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Culture of 'violence-driven immunity' in MP: CJP writes to Minorities Commission

By Our Representative 

Well-known human rights organisation, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), has written to the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), drawing its attention to the repeated attacks on Muslims in Madhya Pradesh that have been taking place since August 2021.
Headed by Teesta Setalvad, who has fought several 2002 Gujarat riot victims' cases, CJP’s prayer to the apex minority rights body is to conduct a full-fledged investigation into such incidents and also seek information about such attacks under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
CJP has listed the incidents that have come to light over the past few weeks in the state.
On October 9, a Muslim family was attacked in Indore’s Kampel locality, after the family refused to leave the village dominated by the Hindu community. The family of about 8 sustained injuries on their head, arms, and legs. One family member, Fouzia, alleged that a group of 100-150 men associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), had come to her house and started threatening her family to leave the village.
She said that her uncle, and her father, who is also a diabetic was assaulted and injured their arms and head. The mob allegedly broke her phone and injured her leg.
CJP’s complaint also mentioned the case of Tasleem Ali, a bangle seller who was beaten up by a mob of right-wing Hindu groups on August 22 in Indore. The victim was warned to not enter the ‘Hindu’ locality. To further harass him, Tasleem was arrested on a complaint of the Class VI student, who stated that he introduced himself as Golu, son of Mohar Singh (instead of Tasleem Ali), and molested her while her mother had gone inside the house to get money to pay for the bangles purchased.
A case was registered against him under sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment), 467 (Forgery of a valuable security), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged), 420 (cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC as well as under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Meanwhile, Tasleem’s lawyer has alleged that when he went to lodge his complaint at first instance, no FIR was lodged and thereafter this case of molestation was lodged against him as an afterthought. Tasleem’s complaint was finally lodged after a crowd gathered outside the police station.
CJP’s complaint highlighted how some posters have been put up in Ratlam prohibiting the entry of “non-Hindus” outside Garba venues. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) claims that non-Hindu men indulge in objectionable activities and thus their entry is being prohibited for Garba. One of the volunteers manning the entry at the college event, Habib Noor, a third-year B. Com student, has said that members of the Bajrang Dal had picked out Kadir Mansoori in the parking lot, saying “Ye unwala hai (he is one of theirs).”
One Sajid Shah, Adnan Shah’s uncle, released a video on social media stating that his nephew was put behind bars on allegations of “love jihad”. He questioned, “Can a Muslim not celebrate garba in his college function?” He said that members of Bajrang Dal and VHP selectively dragged out the Muslim boys and handed them over to Gandhinagar police station.

Impact of 'vitriolic' attacks

The CJP complaint stated that the manner in which hate has been maliciously whipped up against the Muslim minorities in the state, needs immediate attention as this behaviour cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.
“These are clear indicators that a persistent and all-pervasive attempt is made not just to disturb social harmony but worse, to create a climate of divisiveness wherein hate crimes preceded by hate speech are being deployed to target an already vulnerable minority community,” read the complaint.
CJP urged the Commission to take cognisance of its complaint and ensure physical protection to members of the religious minorities
These attacks, it said, will play into the deep communal divide the authorities are ignoring and we are on the verge of violence, targeted violence and social disharmony becoming the norm in our society. Hence, it has urged the commission to protect the minorities from this danger as India is a democracy which is committed to the ideology of tolerance and diversity.
The complaint further referred to the Supreme Court judgment of Tehseen S Poonawalla vs Union of India (2016), where the court has listed down the dangers of mob violence and how the state is responsible to maintain law and order in the society. The court had ruled:
"Mob vigilantism and mob violence have to be prevented by the governments by taking strict action and by the vigil society who ought to report such incidents to the state machinery and the police instead of taking the law into their own hands. Rising intolerance and growing polarization expressed through spate of incidents of mob violence cannot be permitted to become the normal way of life or the normal state of law and order in the country.
"Good governance and nation building require sustenance of law and order which is intricately linked to the preservation of the marrows of our social structure. In such a situation, the State has a sacrosanct duty to protect its citizens from unruly elements and perpetrators of orchestrated lynching and vigilantism with utmost sincerity and true commitment to address and curb such incidents which must reflect in its actions and schemes.”

The complaint has also listed down the various violations of law that include charges of rioting, hate speech, assault, causing grievous hurt, being a member of an unlawful assembly and attempt to murder.
CJP urged the Commission to take cognisance of its complaint and ensure physical protection to members of the religious minorities in a state like Madhya Pradesh where a culture of violence-driven immunity appears to prevail.
It asked the commission to issue guidelines /advisory to all State governments/ administrations, State police departments to deal with communally motivated and partisan attacks in a stringent manner and urge the authorities to follow through with these complaints in a swift manner.

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