“Draconian” Laws Target Minorities: Scores of People have been slapped with UAPA by Yogi’s Uttar Pradesh Police.
October 29, 2018
A delegation initiated by NCHRO returned with a preliminary fact finding mission this week having visited the violence hit Khaira Bazar in Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh, gathered witnesses’ statements of communal feud that has been turned into yet another opportunity to demonize Minorities.
Interviews with victims, civic leaders and officers have suggested that an orchestrated and coordinated campaign of violenceorganized in the wake of Durga Puja procession abetted by the local police and directed at Muslim Minorities families. The extent of police cooperation with the extremist mobs is alarming. Treated like criminals rather than being recognized as victims of a crime is evident as victims has been booked with draconian UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) by the Uttar Pradesh police, have booked 80 Muslims as identified and 100-200 others as unknown,alleging attacked idol procession during Dussehra on 20th October.
Besides UAPA, six sections of Indian Penal Code have also been slapped against them. Yet another example in our country where draconian laws are enforced to serve partisan and political interests, gives the police unaccountable authority to arrest, slap any number of charges, and ensure that the arrested innocents rot in jail as the law meanders through the courts.
The fact-finding report by a seven-member team has concluded that the Khaira Bazar Violence on 20th October 2018 was “Preplanned”. Violence saw deliberate damage to Muslim shops and households in the presence of police, so much so that almost all Muslim families in the area had to flee. Around 40 Muslim men are in police custody – including those who have not been named in FIR. Police has raided, threatened, ransacked and damaged the house holds thrice since that day – all at night. The police action spread fear and alienation. Local police so far neither protected minorities nor sought to hold accountable those who perpetrated the violence. The majority of those who organized or participated in communal violence, though readily identifiable, were not detained or prosecuted by either the police or local authorities.
According to the FIR lodged at the Baundi police station in the Bahraich district, on the written complaint of an alleged member of the procession Ashish Kumar Shukla, those 80 Muslims along with 100-200 others were hiding on the way of the procession and when it was passing through the Khaira village on way to Badnapur for immersion, they attacked the procession. The complainant claimed in the FIR that the attackers were armed with guns, pistols, bombs and swords. He named three persons and 50-60 unknown persons from the procession were seriously injured in the attack.
However, fact-finding team of NCHRO has pointed out several holes in the FIR such as:-
1) Preplanned:-The complaint itself seems to have been prepared even before the procession.
2) Time:- The FIR does not mention the time of the incident but it mentions the time of the filing of the complaint. After a cursory look at the FIR, the incident seems completely doubtful. The complainant has not written the time of the incident, yet FIR says incident took place at 00:00 clock on 20th Oct and it was registered at 21:38 PM.
3) Attackers Remembered Readily, Not Victims:- Ashish Kumar Shukla names 80 people out of 250-300 attackers but mentions only three persons injured and didn’t specify the names of other 50-60 people who too claimed as injured. The person, who does not remember injured members of his own procession, readily remembers 80 attackers is the wonder. This proves that those named as accused in the FIR were already identified and recorded prior to the procession itself.
4) Booked under Draconian Law UAPA:- The law would not be wielded as a weapon of oppression but in Khaira Bazar the accused have been booked under six IPC sections (147, 148, 295-A, 296, 323, 506) and Section 7 of UAPA. The FIR has nothing that warrants invocation of UAPA. Draconian laws like UAPA gives police forces extended powers in places where the rule of law has been compromised.Anti-Muslim sentiment has once again become popularized, and certainly considered an acceptable basis upon which the political agenda can be shaped.
5) Running fabricated Videos and spreading false Rumours :- Fictitious and Malicious Rumours is the new age technique of communal elements. Here in this case, it is a video alleging Minority Communities with Anti National rhetoric. This video came after three days of the incident and does not mention in the original FIR. In this technical age, authorities can easily identify the real conspirator but what matters here is the issue of the integrityof Uttar Pradesh Police. Law enforcement officers acting illegally and outside their remit is the immediate concern.
6) Integrity: – When coming into contact with the police or law enforcement authorities, everybody has rights that are protected by the Constitution but here in Khaira Bazar the victims were Minorities who remain vulnerable to violence and discrimination; Injustice appears actively endorsed by local officials. More than anything, what we really need is to rethink the role of police in society. Locals told the fact-finding team that around a dozen of the accused have been arrested. However, the Police did not give any number.Ensuring lawful use of police authority with respect of human rights and by applying the law to all citizens equally is the need of the hour. Such a system is meant to uphold police integrity and deter misconduct and to restore or enhance public confidence in policing.
The delegation met Bahraich Superintendent of Police and narrated how the police action has violated rights of the citizens and their action has terrorised the Minority community. The SP has assured that they will take a relook into the case. The question remains whether the authorities uphold the rule of law or not.
The fact-finding team had comprised of:- Adv. Amit Srivastav (President, NCHRO Delhi), Adv. AnsarIndori (NCHRO Exco Member), Rajeev Yadav (General Secretary, Rihai Manch), Baljit Kaur (Human Rights Activist, Delhi), Human Rights Defenders Kirpa Shankar, Robin Verma and Rajvir Kaur.
The fact finding showed that the attacks were targeted entire minority communities, including women and children, and possibly aimed at destroying their livelihoods and social and economic infrastructure. The rise of modern fascism was chilling. The active governmental promotion or directions of violence against minority communities are alarming.The government is increasingly demonstrating that it has no interest in establishing a fully functioning democracy where its entire people equally enjoy all their rights and freedoms.
As renowned activist Arundati Roy pointed out, this is the most dangerous atmosphere in our country when the ruling party is losing popularity fast. There will be ruthless, continuous attempts to divert (attention) from the reasons for the loss of popularity and fracture the growing solidarity of the Opposition.”She added: “From now to the elections it will be a continuous circus of arrests, assassinations, lynchings, bomb attacks, false flag attacks, riots and pogroms. Divide and rule is old; now it is divert and rule. We will not know from where and how and what kind of fireball is going to fall on us.
We appeal to the concerned citizens to call and email Superintendent of Police on the following contact details and demand a fair investigation into the case.
Dr.Gorav Grover, Superintendent of Police Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, Mob: 09454400259, Email :firstname.lastname@example.org
Complete Report in Hindi can be Downloaded Here