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Flouting of law and order: Arrests in Khatauli, setting free Muzaffarnagar riots accused, extra-judicial killings

An Insaaf Yatra was organised by Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD) on 31st March 2018 in Uttar Pradesh. Those who were on the fact-finding mission were Muzaffarn Ovais Sultan Khan, human rights activist and Managing Trustee of ANHAD; AC Michael, former member, Delhi Minorities Commission; Md. Faizan Alam, social activist, Meha Khanduri, human rights activist; Syed Ravish Alam and other social and human rights activists from Delhi, Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. A note:

An Insaaf Yatra was organized by ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy) on 31st March 2018 to Muzaffarnagar and Shamli to:
  1. Express solidarity with the families and children in Khatauli who had been arrested and jailed unlawfully 
  2. Protest the state government’s move to erase 131 cases against those accused of 2013 Muzaffarnagar pogrom  
  3. And to protest the spate of extra judicial killings in the State
The delegation first met with multiple Muslim residents of Khatauli and heard about incidents to provoke lawlessness. The residents narrated that processions with weapons were being taken out on Hindu religious holidays to intimidate them and provoke riots. The residents also complained of an indifferent administration which turned a blind eye to such provocation, and the arrest of many Muslim including journalists had been arrested by the police on flimsy charges. The members also discussed detailed facts on the case of 4 minor children being arrested and jailed with adults since December 2017.
The Insaaf Yatra went on to Muzaffarnagar to express solidarity with the protests being organized by the Uttar Pradesh National Alliance for People’s Movements and other civil society organizations against erasure of the criminal cases of Muzaffarnagar pogrom accused. They also met residents of Muzaffarnagar and discussed the local law and order issues. The members of the Insaaf Yatra gave the representatives of the government a memorandum and went on to Kandhla to meet the residents and evaluate the situation post the 2013 pogrom.
The delegation was shocked by the tales of lawlessness, intimidation of Muslim residents, and shocking flouting of law and order by the police. The Insaaf Yatra strongly condemns the arrest of the minor children in Khatauli and being jailed with adults instead of juvenile homes and calls for strict action to be taken against the police and the judge who has abused the rights of children.
The delegation also expressed a strong protest on the state government’s move of withdrawing 131 criminal cases against those accused of riots, murders and dacoity. These are heinous crimes and the guilt, or the innocence of the accused should be decided by the judicial process only. Letting them free without the due process of law is an insult to the Indian judiciary and Constitution as well as the rights of the victims. The members of the delegation have decided to further carry out rallies, protests at local and national level too.
It was specially horrifying hearing about the fake encounters and that pressure being exerted by the police on the families of the victims to withdraw their demands for judicial inquiry. Extra judicial murders have no space in a lawful democracy and we demand independent judicial inquiries into all such encounters. In case of them being proved as murders, the policemen who have been involved in such encounters should be arrested and punished by a court of law. The delegation calls for a strong civil society response against these illegal acts by the police and a national and international campaign to stop the misuse of the law and order machinery.

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