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Why is 'expel Muslims' campaign allowed in Uttarakhand? 52 babus write to CS, DGP

Counterview Desk 

In an open letter to the chief secretary (CS) and the director general of police (DGP), Government of Uttarakhand, seeking immediate action on the communal situation in the State, a group of 52 civil servants, who are part of the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), have expressed dismay that despite prior information being available, the criminal campaign against minority communities is being allowed.
Stating that the administration refused to go beyond the registration of a case against "unknown persons" after posters were put up recently, CCG – claiming former civil servants to have no affiliation with any political party, and believing in impartiality, neutrality and commitment to the Constitution of India – demanded to ensure that no communal, intimidatory, hate focused or other programme takes place.

Text: 

We write to express our deep concern at the developing situation in Uttarakhand, particularly in Uttarkashi and Tehri Garhwal districts. We wish to draw, in particular, your attention to the fact that threats have been made regarding a mahapanchayat proposed to be held on 15 June 2023 in the town of Purola and a rally and "chakka jam" program on 20 June 2023 at Tehri, both explicitly associated with calls to expel Muslims from these areas. We call upon you to ensure that no such criminal, communal or intimidatory program is permitted to take place on these dates or otherwise, and that the state police and administration functions as per the Constitution, the law, and the multiple directions of the Supreme Court to act against hate speech and mob violence.
We note that these programmes come in the wake of a communal campaign in the region, including bazaar bandh calls in over 12 towns and rallies and hate speech against Muslims, that has already led to 42 Muslim families reportedly fleeing the town of Purola on May 28th and to Muslim shopkeepers vacating their premises in Purola, Badkot and possibly other locations. On the basis of available reports in the media, we cannot avoid the conclusion that this ongoing campaign is a criminal enterprise explicitly aimed at threatening our fellow citizens.
We note, in particular, that as per a report in the “Hindustan Times” on 5 June 2023, posters were put up in Purola on Muslim owned shops demanding that their owners vacate before the mahapanchayat on June 15th. “Amar Ujala” subsequently reported on 11 June 2023 that a planning meeting for such a mahapanchayat has been held in Purola (and that a number of figures at the forefront of the anti-minority campaign attended this meeting). We also note that on 9 June 2023, “Hindustan” reported that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had sent a letter to the Tehri District Magistrate saying that an "ultimatum" has been given to all members of the Muslim community to leave the Jaunpur valley and in particular the towns of Nainbagh, Jakhar, Nagtibba, Thatyur, Saklana, Damta, Purola, Barkot and Uttarkashi, and that if this ultimatum is not complied with, these organisations will jam roads and hold protests in Tehri on 20 June 2023.
It is a mystery to us as to why, despite information being available in the public domain, the criminal campaign against minority communities underway since 26 May 2023 has seen no action whatsoever being taken by the administration beyond the registration of a case against "unknown persons" after posters were put up. We wish to draw your attention to the fact that in April 2022, a similar mahapanchayat was planned in Haridwar, until the Hon'ble Supreme Court explicitly directed that the Chief Secretary of the state would be held responsible for any hate speech at this gathering after which the administration ensured the gathering did not take place, indicating that it was aware of what was likely to happen. We also wish to draw your attention to the fact that on 30 May 2023 twenty three Supreme Court lawyers wrote to the Governor of Uttarakhand, pointing out that the state is in contempt of court and in particular of the 21.10.2022 order of the Court in Shaheen Abdullah vs. Union of India (WP(C) 940/2022), wherein the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi were specifically directed to "ensure that immediately as and when any speech or any action takes place which attracts offences such as Sections 153A, 153B and 295A and 505 of the IPC etc., suo moto action will be taken to register cases even if no complaint is forthcoming and proceed against the offenders in accordance with law." Yet till date nothing has been done.
The intimidation campaign is being justified on the grounds of so-called love jihad and land jihad
We finally note that this intimidation campaign is being justified on the grounds of so-called "love jihad" and that the Chief Minister of the state has been repeatedly making public statements claiming that "land jihad" and "love jihad" will not be tolerated in the state, notwithstanding that it is against both the law and our Constitution to target entire communities on the basis of supposed wrongdoing by individuals. We also note that the state government has been claiming that hundreds of religious shrines, the vast majority of them mazars, have been demolished in the last two months.
Uttarakhand is a state known for its social peace and harmony. Hence, we call upon you to act immediately, and in particular to:
  1. Ensure that no communal, intimidatory, hate focused or other programme is permitted to be held on June 15th, June 20th, or any other date in the state of Uttarakhand.
  2. Ensure that any person, whatever her/his political affiliation, who instigates or indulges in violence, harassment, or intimidation of any other person on the basis of their religious identity is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
  3. Ensure the full implementation in Uttarakhand of the 2018 judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Tehseen Poonawalla vs. Union of India and Ors. for prevention of hate speech and mob violence.
  4. Direct the provision of security and compensation to any person or community who has been forced to flee from any area due to their religious identity.
We urge you to initiate action on the above on an urgent basis.
Satyameva Jayate
---
For signatories click here

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