Telangana HC concerned over higher number of Muslims booked for lockdown violations

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 24 June 2020 | Posted in , , , ,

IMO News Service

New Delhi: The Hyderabad Police has been pulled up by Telangana High Court over the booking of disproportionately higher number of Muslims for violating lockdown rules. 

The Telangana HC had last week asked the Hyderabad police to explain the conduct of its officials over the booking of a large number of Muslims over lockdown rules violations. The HC acted on a petition filed by Sheela Sarah Mathews bringing to the court’s attention the many incidents of police excess and brutality aimed at people for violating the lockdown rules.

The petitioner, represented by Dipak Misra, had also filed an application in the case under section 151 of the CrPC seeking directions from the court to the Respondents to incur medical expenses of the injured persons as stated in the affidavit filed by the petitioner.

Hyderabad Police Commissioner also filed a counter affidavit addressing the various allegations made in the petition and informed the court about the actions taken against some officials for failure to discharge their duties responsibly.

It was submitted that a departmental enquiry has been initiated against Sub-Inspector B Lingam and SHO of Ameerpet Police station, B Mohan Kumar and ACP of Malakpet Division and the court has directed that the progress of the departmental inquiry be informed to the court.
In the counter affidavit, it is also claimed that Mr. Mohd. Asgar and Mr. Khaleem were not assaulted by the police but injured themselves while running away from the police. Reportedly, Mohd. Asgar, who went to fetch groceries, fell from the top of a building as people began to run to a nearby under construction building as police started lathi charge.

The court, in its June 17 order, observed that the injury report of either individual has not been submitted with the counter affidavit. The police, on the allegation that they had assaulted a handicapped person, stated in the counter affidavit that he was a regulator violator with many traffic challans against him, however, these challans were not submitted to the court.

Further, the court directed the police to submit the name of the police personnel, seen in a video circulating on the internet, abusing locals who had stepped out of their homes to buy groceries. The police have admitted in the Counter affidavit that this incident took place.

Responding to another incident of police excess, whereby it was alleged that the police personnel of Falakhnuma Police station damaged vehicles parked on the road, the counter affidavit said, that the police were checking the vehicles for coronavirus. The court was rather surprised and said there was no need to use lathis to check for coronavirus. The court asked for a complete report to be submitted in this regard.

Further, about the allegation that one Mr. Zaidan was attacked by K Hanumanth Kumar of Golconda Police Station, the counter affidavit stated that Zaidan was intercepted by the police as he was riding a two wheeler without a mask and helmet and in an altercation, the police lathi accidentally hit his spectacles which broke and caused injury under the right eye. The Court, however, observed, “the injury report of Zaidan has not been produced before this Court. Obviously, a single injury to right eye cannot cause an injury requiring thirty-five stitches and a hairline fracture. Thus, it is obvious that the correct facts have not been mentioned in the counter affidavit.”

The court further observed, “although it is claimed that Mr. Hanumanth Kumar was suspended by order dated April 29, and a detailed enquiry has been ordered against him, neither the copy of suspension order, nor the further development in the departmental enquiry has been submitted along with the counter-affidavit.”

In the light of the above observations, the court asked the police to file a fresh report along with requisite injury reports.

The Times of India reported that during the hearing, the court questioned why there was disproportionate charging of people belong to the Muslim community for violation lockdown rules. The bench comprising Justices Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and B Vijaysen Reddy asked, “does it mean that there are no violators from other communities?” The bench also pointed out how nationwide protests broke out in the USA when an African-American man was killed by the cops.

The court sought a fresh report from Hyderabad police by June 29 and scheduled the next date of hearing for June 30.

From freedom fighters in British India to Dissenters in Free India: Face Sedition- Section 124A is the simple answer

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

By Ravi Nitesh

Recently, Amulya Leona got bail from a Magistrate court after session court had denied her bail however, later, Magistrate court accepted the bail on the basis that Police didn’t file chargesheet within due time and during this she spent around four months in jail.

Saroofa Jargar, a youth activist in Delhi has been picked up from her home for her involvement in Ant-CAA protest on the charges that her involvement allegedly caused riots in Delhi. Saroofa is pregnant, a research scholar in Jamia Millia Islamia (which is in Top10 universities as per NIRF of MHRD).

Devangana and Natasha are founding members of a group Pinjra Tod and they were active in Ant—CAA protest in Jaffrabad area of North East Delhi and have been picked up by police on the charges that their involvement allegedly caused riots in North East Delhi. Devangana and Natasha are JNU students (2nd Rank University in NIRF universities ranking)

Delhi Minority Commission Chairman Zafrul Islam Khan is facing inquiry under sedition charges allegedly for his social media post and several visits of Delhi Police have happened at his residence in the name of inquiry.

Anup Singh, an individual from Prayagraj (U.P.) booked because he had posted a comment on a facebook post on migrant workers issue and had made an objectionable remark on CM Yogi Adityanath.

Many more known and unknown names across India can be added in above list with one thing common that they all are those who faced sedition charges in recent time. These known-unknown names include Students of JNU like Umar Khalid, many other Jamia and AMU students, journalists like Vinod Dua, Dhaval Patel, activists like Khalid Saifi to less known Kashmiri students, local journalists, individuals who wrote something against CM, PM, Government. You just name someone, share reports, criticize heavily, organize protests and the next week you may face undesirable guests in the form of police to detain you under charges of sedition filed against you by any less known person or a political worker in any xyz district. Mostly, sedition is not alone, and added with other charges such as UAPA, defamation law or other IPC sections etc.

Most of them have been in detention by police without any clear involvement of them in any riots or any evidence to prove that their actions are against the sovereignty of India. They have been pushed behind the ‘anti-national’ tag merely for their open criticism against the policy of the government with peaceful protests in writing or through practicing their right to have assembly and freedom of speech. Most of them are students, young researchers but they have been made accused with the help of amended laws of UAPA (in many cases) and also under sedition. The same colonial era sedition which already has caused difficulty in earlier years too such as in cases of Binayak Sen and in Kundankulam Protest, but in present, used excessively to suppress even basic criticism or even in the matter which could be ignored.
Section 124 (A) of IPC was made initially in the year 1870 (IPC-1860) by British against the Indians to suppress their voices of dissent and imposed against freedom of speech and expression, probably to ‘protect’ the British crown from any criticism by creating fear among freedom fighters, dissenters who were active through protests and through their newspapers. Bal Gangadhar Tilak faced sedition for his activities during the freedom struggle and later Mahatma Gandhi also faced the charge for writing an article in his newspaper Young India.

Section 124A in its present form states: “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which a fine may be added; or, with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which a fine may be added; or, with fine.”

After Independence, IPC continued and sedition also remained a part of it and applied by the Indian government also against its own citizens when they tried to speak against the government. With the basis of accusing someone’s action seditious through using words like ‘disaffection’, this extremely serious allegation looks very vague and with all potential to be misused due to lack of clarity of ‘Disaffection’, which is free to be interpreted by anyone.

Probably looking at this and the trail that this law has been misused to tag people, particularly dissenters, activists etc. even a paper of Law commission advocated to repeal or at least review section 124(a). In its report, the Law commission states ‘Section 124A should be invoked only in cases where the intention behind any act is to disrupt public order or to overthrow the government with violence and illegal means.’ It also stated ‘Berating the country or a particular aspect of it cannot and shouldn’t be treated as sedition.’

Also, despite the fact that IPC already has many other provisions and there are many other separate acts in India which are more than sufficient to deal with any actual sedition charges but still applicability of sedition has not been reduced.

Considering the scope and applicability in terms of conviction, even the Supreme Court of India, in its judgements clearly said that statements against government cannot be termed as sedition. In the famous judgement of Kedarnath Singh Vs State of Bihar in 1962, court observed that any criticism and comment against the government cannot be termed as sedition unless it incite people for violence or with intention of creating public disorder. Similarly in Balwant Singh Vs State of Punjab case 1995, Supreme Court observed that casual raising of slogans once or twice (in this case Khalistan Zindabad) can not be said as an attempt to excite hatred.

With the recent data of NCRB, it is clear that conviction rate is extremely low (only 1 case in 2016, 1 in 2017 and 2 in 2018) as these cases couldn’t stand on legal ground inside courtrooms where constitution provides fundamental rights of speech and expression, but still the machinery is picking people frequently, probably because sedition also provides an easy ground to detain because of no clear definition or criteria and till the time a particular case will be judged in court, the dissenter may feel the fear and pain of being lodged in detention.

In recent times, these people, mostly university going boys and girls, research scholars who have been pursuing their thirst of understanding society, putting their opinions on front and without fear are in grip. In fact, a healthy democracy should welcome such people as any critical analysis, critical comments, protests, resistance and dissents are actually a true reflection that democracy is living in paper and spirit. A government in power at center or state, must not see itself as flawless or free from any public advice or public demand for change or criticism. A democratic government should be in fact more welcoming towards the change, as democratic values are like a river that flows continuously and stopping it would result in death.

Government must start striking off the sedition law first and any such actions, even if found to be punished, should be dealt with through other available provisions and this draconian provision, which is a sign of British colonial mindset to crush dissent, should be repealed to respect people’s freedom in Independent India.

Even if this can be done now, after 73 years of Independence, this would be a step in a larger contribution of making a democratic values stronger.

[Ravi Nitesh writes on issues of Peace, Human Rights and Development. He Tweets @ravinitesh] 

India warned over violations of religious freedom

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 23 June 2020 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Dr Mike Ghouse

The Center for Pluralism and the supporting organizations welcome the Press Release by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and the Annual report released by the U.S. Department of the State (DOS) in June 2020.

The USCIRF made a recommendation to the DOS about the gross violations of religious freedoms in India and listed India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) and suggested penalties against India’s Home Minister Amit Shah, the man behind the violations.

The CPC designation has severe consequences for India. The major global corporations that are interested in India’s prosperity will hesitate to do business in India due to social and political unrest. Most companies in the world want to do business in a stable nation.

The biggest economic threat to India is the loss of prosperity gained by the employees and the companies in the information technology sector. The employees and employers stand to lose all the gains they have made in the last twenty years. In the end, every Indian stand to lose.
Prime Minister Modi earned the CPC title by his calculated silence. He has a record for letting the bad guys do whatever they want. He had once said at the beginning of the Gujarat Massacre to his men, “You’ve three days to finish the job.” meaning kill as many as you can. It resulted in the killing of over 1000 people in February 2002.

Modi lives on with his three days formula – An 8-year-old girl Asifa was gang-raped and butchered into pieces, Modi did not speak until the whole nation was agitated. Ansari was brutally beaten with crowbars; Modi did not talk until the entire country condemned it. There were 114 such incidents during his six-year reign. In March this year, his men placed the saffron flag on their homes to identify Muslim homes who did not have the flag – they burned several houses and killed nearly 50 people. Modi did not speak or even had the courtesy to visit.

Christians and Muslims are given an ultimatum by a few members of the ruling BJP Party, that they (230 Million) have three options. Convert to Hinduism, live as 2nd class citizens, or disappear. Mr. Modi has not said a word to allay the fears.

Prime Minister Modi needs to repeal the unnecessary Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and the protests will stop at once, and the nation’s social and political stability will return. The demand for birth certificates is to separate Muslims as the Jews in the Holocaust were pinned Megan David on their sleeves. As per the provisions of the law, if one is a Hindu or of other faith, he/she gets automatic citizenship, but Muslims will go to the detention camps. The great Indian people of all religions have joined the protests, and they have realized, discrimination to one is discrimination to all. The demonstrations are identical to the George Floyd protests across the world.

The Modi government arrested a pregnant woman Safoora Zargar for protesting. She was slapped with false charges. Mr. Amit Shah has extensive experience with making up charges against the people he doesn’t like or, worse, killing them in fake encounters.

Kaleem Kawaja of Association of Indian Muslims of America (AIM) adds, “We hope the Government of India heeds the reports issued by the Department of State and work on correcting the course and save India from the destruction of social structure leading the economic disaster.”

We offer the following solutions to restore sanity and democracy, take back the title of CPC, and recognize all citizens are equal under the law.

We urge the Indian government to issue the visas to the Commissioners of USCIRF to verify the truth and make the recommendations to rectify the wrongs heaped on Indian Citizens, particularly the Kashmiri citizens.

We urge the Prime Minister to speak up and tell the nation that he will not tolerate lynching, cow vigilantes, raping, and harassment of fellow Indians. The calls for Christians and Muslims to convert to Hinduism or live as second-class citizens will be pushed back, and the callers will face serious consequences.

The report in its entirety can be read Here

[Mike Ghouse is the founder and president of the Center for Pluralism. He is a speaker, thinker, author, consultant, pluralist, activist, newsmaker, and an interfaith wedding officiant. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions to the media and the policymakers. He blogs at TheGhousediary.com] 

Opinion: Gujarat Congress faces revolt, heading for a spilt after losing Rajya Sabha election

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Ahmedabad: After losing one seat in Gujarat Rajya election, the Congress is hurtling from crisis to crisis. At the Centre, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah are a formidable force for the BJP, the Congress is groping with Rahul Gandhi poorly equipped to measure up to the challenge and mother Sonia fighting ill-health and out of touch with political activity.
Talking to Gujarat Siyasat and Siyasat.net, a Ahmedabad-based senior political analyst claimed that Gujarat Congress is facing a major revolt in the cadre. Hundreds of party workers are unhappy with top leaders and many loyal workers are feeling humiliation. This may lead to a spilt in the party. 
According to some unconfirmed reports, former CM Shankersinh Vaghela may launch a new party with Congress dissidents in Gujarat. A senior Congress leader is in touch with him, sources claimed. 
 Political maneuvering continues to gain momentum as the Rajya Sabha elections are over in Gujarat. The weaknesses of the Congress central leadership had come to the fore, apart from exposing the fact that former party president Rahul Gandhi’s decisions lack substance.
Rahul Gandhi’s entire team flopped in Gujarat as well. The situation has come to such a pass that it has become difficult for the Congress to win a second Rajya Sabha seat. It is expected to win one seat. What adds to the Congress’ woes is that it may be headed for another split after the RS polls in the state.
Interestingly, the Congress, which had given anxious moments to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in the 2017 Assembly elections, could not remain a united house inside a little over two years, with Rahul Gandhi being blamed for the Congress being a divided house in Gujarat. The question is now if the Congress will at all be a party to reckon with when the state goes to the Assembly elections in 2022.
In 2017, it’s the same Gujarat which had given the Congress some oxygen after its massive defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Rahul Gandhi had taken over the reins of the Congress during the Gujarat polls. He had hit the headlines for trying to play the soft Hindutva card. He visited several temples in an apparent bid to send out a soft Hindutva message. However, the Congress under him, although it gave a tough fight to the BJP, could not come to power. But Rahul Gandhi came in for praise for giving a tough fight to opponents. However, this was followed by Rahul Gandhi taking decisions on his own. This resulted in widening the split already existing in the party. The differences started growing between the old guards and the young Turks. Ignoring the old guard, Rahul Gandhi handed over the state’s command to Amit Chavda, the CLP leader post to Paresh Dhanani and the state in-charge responsibility to Rajeev Satav. These decisions led to massive internal fights.
As the situation went from bad to worse, a big committee of 500 leaders was formed. But this turned out to be an exercise in futility, as the committee was dissolved within a year in 2019. This was followed by Congress’ massive defeat in the Lok Sabha polls in 2019. Rahul Gandhi stepped down as Congress president and Sonia Gandhi was made interim president. 
But the decisions continued to be faulty. Shakti Sinh Gohil and Bharat Solanki were given Rajya Sabha tickets on the advice of Ahmed Patel. But in the meantime legislators began to desert the Congress. The BJP grabbed the opportunity and fielded Abhay Bharadwaj, Rameela Ben and Narhari Ameen. 
Before the split, the Congress had a sufficient number of 77 MLAs and three MLAs of its allies. But the situation changed completely after some of its MLAs left the party. Even after RS election over is an apprehension of more of the remaining 65 legislators leaving the Congress. So the Congress cannot repeat what it did in 2017. It had pulled out a victory of Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha election by one vote to upstage the BJP. Then Gujarat was in charge of Ashok Gehlot. The “Chanakya of Congress” Ahmed Patel was himself camping there.

At the same time, Ahmed Patel managed to get tickets for Gohil and Solanki. Gohil was made general secretary despite his defeat in the Assembly elections. Now, he is in Rajya Sabha by winning the election, which is his reward for ensuring Patel’s win in 2017. But the Congress is definitely getting weakened in the prevailing circumstances.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is Editor of Gujarat Siyasat. He is a Senior Journalist based in Ahmedabad] 

Icon Art Production back in action filming remotely in UAE

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

IMO News Service 

Dubai, UAE: To support the local and International film Industry, UAE based Icon Art Production (IAP) has successfully implemented projects with Remote Filming Solutions to all their International Clients, Producers and Production Companies.

The remote Direction Solution is also available for International Directors who cannot travel but can direct the filming and execute projects, including TV Commercials with remote monitoring.

According to Zakir, CEO of Icon Art production, “Following health and safety measures set by the local authorities and the Rules and Guidelines provided by Dubai Film and TV Commission, live concerts can be filmed in our fully equipped state of the Art Studio for broadcast and sound recording. We film indoor or outdoor Music Videos, TV Programs, Web Series and Online Promotional Video as our team understands the niche requirements of the industry and help assist Directors and Producers during these challenging times.”

Remote Auditions and Casting will be conducted remotely over video conferencing or by sending footage as a safety measure for Covid-19. A separate Make-Up Room and Wardrobe room is provided and the Cast is on Set only when everything is ready for Filming.

Producer Saurabh Kabra said, “In the current times where shoots are banned in India because of widespread of COVID-19, Dubai works as a good opportunity. The city has a good database of actors that can pass of as Indians or are of Indian origin. Hence we prefer to shoot here, it is convenient and cost effective. What the city offers is a world class crew that makes the process endearing.”

Instead of over 100 staff, the production house with minimized First Light and Art Team crew has managed to work with assigned call sheets and delegated their tasks in a progressive shoot ensuring only the required departments are on Set. The Direction team is directing remotely, with Client and agency totalling almost 15 to 20 people monitoring online.
Using this pattern for a few projects recently, Icon Art Production has worked seamlessly resulting in the same quality of filming as a full team. This is a revolution in the Filming Industry specially for TV commercials as Dubai has vast Talent and resources so people around the world can utilize this opportunity to make their projects happen remotely.

Icon Art Production specializes in the production of Feature Films, TV Programs, Music Videos, TV Commercials, Events Productions, Studios & Post Production and has a facility that can be customized and branded for magazine shoots, product launches and pop up events.

Hajj 2020 for only limited number of pilgrims of different nationalities: Saudi govt

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

IMO News Service 

The government of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently made an official statement saying that Hajj 2020 will only be open to a limited number of pilgrims of different nationalities who are already living in the Kingdom. There will be no pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia this year. The decision is being seen to be wise and pragmatic keeping in view the current Coronavirus pandemic.

“Greater Nepal” -- A powerful slogan echoing in India's backyard

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The idea of Greater Nepal is a new brand of nationalism that is being packaged in the Himalayan state against India. Greater Nepal wants an idea to extend its boundaries into the territories like Sikkim, Kumaon, Garhwal and Kangra region of India.

Cities like Darjeeling, Nainital, Almora and Dehradun and few others are supposed to be part of Greater Nepal. They say these territories were ceded to the East India Company under the Sugauli Treaty of 1816 due to the defeat of the Gurkha king in the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814–16. It was an unjust treaty that was held between shareholders of the Company and the King of a state. Such a treaty has no relevance in the age of democracy and people’s sovereignty.  

The Treaty of Sugauli in 1816 caused Nepal's rulers to lose about 105,000 km of territory and left Nepal as it is today, with 147,181 km of present total area.

The British government in December 1923 superseded the Sugauli Treaty with a "Treaty of Perpetual Peace and Friendship.” The Indian government further ratified this Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950.
However, those behind the idea of ‘Greater Nepal’ want to scrap the 1950 agreement with India. Behind this there is a NGO called Greater Nepal Nationalist Front (GNLF) headed by Phanindra Nepal that wants to achieve the goal of Greater Nepal. There are also some political parties like Greater Nepal Nationalist Front that endorse such ideas.

The GNLF has launched a signature campaign demanding the return of territory belonging to Nepal. According to ‘The Rising Nepal', a government-owned national daily, the campaign was initiated by the Greater Nepal Nationalist Front coinciding with Nepal National Unity Day. The signatures collected were supposed to be handed over to the Nepal president Bidya Devi Bhandari, UN secretary general, the five members of the UN Security Council, and to the SAARC secretary general.  

The concept of Greater Nepal stands on two legs. One is Nepal’s treaty with the East India Company that GNLF says has become redundant. Second, the areas that form the parts of Greater Nepal are inhabited by Nepalese people who speak Gorkhali language and are ethnically and linguistically more closer to the people of Nepal than to the Indian mainland.

As far as the government of Nepal is concerned it does not subscribe to the idea of “Greater Nepal” nor do the major political parties of Nepal. However, the fact remains that “Greater Nepal” is a powerful slogan that is gaining ground in the neighboring state.

Recently, both houses of Nepal’s parliament approved a new map including territory controlled by India. The National Assembly or upper house unanimously voted to endorse the new political map issued last month that shows the disputed areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as part of Nepal.

The Indian side has said Nepal’s “shifting” claims are contrary to the Treaty of Sugauli signed in 1815 by Nepal and the British, a ruling by the British governor general in 1817, and Nepal’s boundary treaty with China of 1961 and protocols signed by these two countries in 1963 and 1979.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com] 

Do all Lives Matter in India?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 22 June 2020 | Posted in , , , ,

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has evoked a sea of responses globally and shook its conscience. Americans from all walks of life irrespective of colour have come out in large protest rallies to condemn racism and police brutality in US. There were some unfortunate instances of looting and violence during these protests but by and large the protests were peaceful, sparking debate and bringing the focus on the deep entrenched systemic racism in the country. George Floyd was 47 years old Black American who died in police custody when police officer, Derek Chauvin knelt over his neck for around nine excruciating minutes even as Floyd gasped for air pleading with the officer to release pressure from his neck, repeating “I cant breathe”. The imagery of George Floyd’s humiliation and inhumane subjugation at the hands of the unrelenting Derek Chauvin in his final moments has shaken the social and moral consciousness of the individuals the world over, calling for condemnation and police reforms against police brutality and excesses. While George Floyd’s death has exposed the long historically existent fault lines based on race, this incident has triggered a discourse on police brutalities which are targeting the vulnerable communities in every country. There are parallels to “George Floyd moments” to be found worldwide. In India, George Floyd’s death unwittingly conjures the imagery of the biased police action against religious minorities especially the Muslims and the Dalits which is starkly marked by prejudice and systemic targeting of these marginalized groups. This prejudice against the Muslims partly stems from and is patronized by the supremacist ideology at helm. Here the author would like to reflect on the striking differences in the responses of Indian state as compared to United States while dealing with police action vis a vis vulnerable groups.

In response to the outrage and decry in the United States by the protestors, the state has come up with a number of proposals to address police brutality. Two most far reaching responses being discussed are, firstly to “defund” the Minneapolis and second is the drastic step to disband the police department force entirely in favor of the new community led safety model (The Tribune , 2020). Defunding of the police department would imply massive budgetary cuts to the police which the protestors believed were disproportionately used against the coloured community and reallocating them to public health, mental health, education and affordable housing for the poor. The Minneapolis City Council has vowed to go as far as disbanding the entire police force something unthinkable in countries today where the idea of security is intimately intertwined with a lethally overreaching armed police force. These sweeping changes underline the recognition of the systemic bias and discrimination that exists in the institution as of now. As against these measures seen in the United States, in India there has been a visible trend of placing the police in the position of extreme power and privilege, even in the face of compelling evidences.

The most recent example is that of Khwaja Yunus. Khwaja Yunus was a young man of 27 years who died in the police custody in 2003. He was a resident of Parbhani in Maharashtra who was arrested for his alleged involvement in the Ghatkopar blasts on December 2, 2002. He was a software engineer arrested with four other accused. While the police claimed that Yunus had escaped from custody, his then co-accused, Dr. Mohammad Matin who was the first prosecution witness before the trial court in January, had submitted that he had seen Yunus being stripped and assaulted on January 6, 2003, following which, he was never seen again. Based on the complaint of Yunus’ co-accused in 2003, an FIR was filed against the policemen (Modak, 2018). Four police officers were prima facie found guilty and suspended from services. However earlier this month they were reinstated. The High Court in 2004 had directed disciplinary enquiry against the four accused. This enquiry was never carried out and instead the four accused police officers were reinstated in contrary to the orders of the High Court.

The ill treatment and torture of the innocent Khwaja Yunus is not a stray incident. Muslim youth are perceived as “natural” suspects in terror attacks reflecting the stigma and demonization of the Muslim community in India. Many innocent Muslim youth are incarcerated under stringent acts like UAPA or POTA and remain in prison for years and released only after years when no evidence is found against them. Mohammed Saleem Ansari, a mechanical engineer was released from jail in 2016 after the Supreme Court absolved him of the terror-related charges under which he had been in prison for 23 long years. Ansari, along with three other Muslims, walked out of a Jaipur jail on May 17 after the Supreme Court on May 11 acquitted them of all charges, setting aside their life sentence and ordering their immediate release. They were among the 16 who were booked for triggering five blasts on trains on the first anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, which killed two passengers and injured eight. All of them were charged under the Terrorist and Disruptive Acts Prevention Act (Shaikh, 2016). In another incident, in 2015, Shoaib Khan, 28, from Hingoli, Maulana Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, 30, from Yavatmal and Abdul Malik, 23 from Pusad were arrested by Maharashtra Police and their cases were transferred to Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad. In June 2019, they were acquitted of all charges and walked free after a harrowing time in prison. While the media and police painted a picture of radicalization of the Muslim youth in India and alleged that the three were involved in “jihadi” terror acts, Khan narrated a harrowing tale of torture in police custody to extract false statements (Johari, 2019) A 2012 study by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences found that although Muslims account for 10.6 per cent of the Maharashtra population, they comprise over 30 per cent of the prison population. The study observed that the police and intelligence agencies’ bias against Muslims led to a number of arrests under TADA and MCOC Acts, and even the Official Secrets Act.

The common thread running in all these cases is the humiliation and stigmatization that the community faces owing to its religious identity. The years lost in police or judicial custody after undergoing unbearable torture can never be redeemed and are wasted forever. The torture and stigma scars the victims for the rest of their lives. The victimization of Muslim youth in police custody is not a coincidence but one finds a well established pattern of police interface with the Muslim community. This becomes clear in the context of communal riots and mob lynching. There are numerous studies and commission reports which points towards the biased nature of police during communal riots targeting the vulnerable communities. The Srikrishna Commission report (1998) underlines the “built in bias” of the Bombay police force which manifested in the riots in Bombay in 1992 and other places in Maharashtra. The Report of Justice D.P. Madon Commission on Bhiwandi riots (1970) passed severe strictures on the role of police in Bhiwandi riots. On anti-Sikh riots, three inquiry commissions—Justice Rangnath Mishra Commission (1987), Justice Jain-D.K. Agarwal Committee (1990), and Justice R.S. Narula Panal (1994) submitted their reports and all inquiry commissions had unanimously indicted 72 police officers and clearly outline the discriminatory role of the police. Similarly, there are many reports by fact finding committees that give appalling findings on the police’s partisan role in the Gujarat riots of 20021.

In the mob lynching cases that surfaced post 2014, the police is still found wanting at multiple levels- right from protecting the victims from the bloodthirsty mob, to shoddy investigations allowing the perpetrators to walk away free without punishment and to in fact implicate the victims themselves under stringent charges. One can’t erase the image of the police in Hapur escorting the perpetrators who are seen dragging the helpless bleeding victims, Mohammad Qasim and Samiuddin in a hurry (Times of India , 2018). Rakbar Khan in Alwar lost his life due to the fatal casualness of the police who stopped to drink tea for three hours while Rakbar Khan bled to death on the way to the hospital after being lynched by the mob (Goswami & Sharma, 2018). There are many such incidents where the police have proved to be an obstacle in saving innocent lives and delivering justice.

These hair raising incidents must surely compel one to think that inspite of severity and frequency of such incidents, why doesn’t India have the “George Floyd moment” meaning large scale protests or movement on the lines of Black Lives Matter. This is answered with brilliant insight by political scientist Suhas Palshikar who explained that any such protests or voices of dissent are linked to a thriving democracy. The State has steadily delegitimized concern or voices for rights of the marginalized by posing them as threat to order or nation itself (Palshikar, 2020). This carefully constructed narrative has created a barrier for generating empathy in the larger society for the plights of the marginalized no matter how brutally they are violated. This policy is in tandem with the supremacist ideology which hinges on the central idea of constructing a community of second class citizens- the Muslims, Christians, Dalits. Thus while outrage and pain of the protestors reverberated in most of United States where police in some places took to their knee to symbolically acknowledge police excesses and it was their way to offer an apology, the Indian state has most viciously treated protestors.

The recent example was the handling of anti- Citizenship Amendment Act protests by the police. The police have used stun grenades and tear gas on innocent students of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) which led to serious injuries like loss of sight and loss of limb of some students (The Wire, 2019). This is even as Portland and Seattle have temporarily restricted the use of tear gas on protesters. There was a brutal crackdown on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi for which the police came under criticism. The UP police publicly shamed the protestors by putting up their posters and names warning that their property would be attached to recover against damages to public property. The High Court took up this case and observed that the government was “impinging on privacy, respect and freedom” and called it an “illegal move” (NDTV, 2020). One can gauge how inhumanely the police in India deal with protestors going by the arrest of Safoora Zargar, a Jamia Millia Islamia student who is five months pregnant and booked by the Delhi police under the draconian UAPA where she is denied bail. She along with other students was protesting against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Register of Population (NRP) (The New Indian Express, 2020).

After George Floyd’s death, California’s governor ordered the state’s police training program to stop teaching neck holds. Other governments discussed new policies for apprehending suspects to reduce the risk of deadly encounters. These steps are to minimize injuries or deaths to suspects apprehended by police and placed in police custody. Instead of such steps, encounters or extra judicial killings are being used as state policy in Uttar Pradesh. Officials have admitted to over 3,500 police encounters and nearly 80 killings of alleged criminals in a period of over two years, forcing the Supreme Court to intervene (Indian Express, 2019). These encounters have mostly targeted Muslim youth and have made the Muslim community fear for their life and freedom.

These issues highlighted above are directly linked to accountability and democratic institutions. For democratic institutions to thrive and function with fairness, on one hand there must be participatory democracy where people have the freedom to actively and fearlessly participate and on the other hand a state which builds, invests and encourages institution infrastructure. Individuals have to reclaim the public spaces as citizens to express their empathy and outrage at the violations of rights of the marginalized sections of the society. These protests or voices cant be delegitimized by the state. The state has to actively and consciously nurture and reinforce democratic institutions for accountability. While world over there is a growing trend of dismantling of monuments of oppression and slavery, in India the statues of Godse and Manu are worshipped under the present ideology and this is a matter of concern when India is hailed as the largest democracy. Hopefully, India too will take inspiration from the support to George Floyd and redeem its own state and people in favor of liberty, justice and fraternity.

(This article first appeared in Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Secular Perspective, June 16 – 30, 2020) 

Six months since Jamia violence, police brutalities not forgotten

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , , ,

As we witness worldwide #BlackLivesMatter protests and criticisms of police brutality in the USA, we also need to take a look at our own police system and how it perpetrates violence.

By Ishmeet Nagpal

Any structure that exists with a clear mandate of placing absolute power in the hands of a few, will inevitably undermine the spirit of democracy at some juncture. From beating up of helpless migrant workers simply trying to go home, assaulting doctors and essential workers, to beating children, the police have shown us time and again they are not our friends (unless we are Members of Parliament whose children get birthday cakes from them).

In December 2019, while analyzing the Jamia violence perpetrated by Delhi Police, I had asked the following question in a Hindi article: “जामिया के छात्रों से क्रूरता क्यों?” (“Who is the target of the Police’s Lathi? This is something we should think about”). Therapist and researcher- Sadaf Vidha answers, “The brutality of the police is meted out towards those most oppressed in the society. In this, it follows the same pattern of discrimination that the larger society follows. In India, we see disproportionate police brutality towards the poor, the migrants, the caste minorities, women, and the tribal population. In a bizarre incident, a lawyer in Madhya Pradesh was beaten brutally and told later, with an apology, ‘We thought you had a beard, so you were a Muslim’. When they have to make split-second decisions in the absence of proper training, with violence as the only method available, the decision is made on the bases of these implicit biases that they learned growing up and were later reinforced at various stages in their lives.” (extracts from researcher’s essay on thechakkar.com)

The indiscriminate and unjustified violence meted out by the police in Jamia Milia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University students, as well as the violent measures taken to curb Anti-CAA protests may have fallen out of the news cycle, but they will never be forgotten.

Any citizen of India should be very concerned if, in the end, the police are not held accountable for their actions. An extremely biased report is already doing the job of whitewashing over the facts of Delhi Pogrom 2020. Similar gaslighting can be expected in the cases of police brutality. Whether they enter our places of education to perpetrate violence or overturn vegetable carts on the street, the police’s abuse of power with impunity needs to be questioned.

The Delhi Police, in particular, has also been perpetrating another form of structural violence by making a series of arrests targeting students, activists, and peaceful protestors including Safoora Zargar who has been denied bail yet again. The Judiciary is supposed to step up and protect the interests of the citizens. Instead, the Delhi High Court has repeatedly adjourned petitions seeking police accountability for indiscriminate arrests.

The Bengaluru police targeting veteran journalist Aakar Patel for posting about a peaceful #BlackLivesMatter protest is the latest in a long string of nationwide crackdowns on journalists and their freedom of speech. If we look at the big picture, the very people we rely on to keep us safe, are the source of fear. The Judiciary and the Government are complicit even in being passive. From the protests that helped us achieve our freedom from the hands of the British, to the online protests that we participate in now from our smartphones during the lockdown, it is our right, as citizens, to voice our criticisms of the law and order system in our country. Our ancestors put this free, independent nation in our hands, and we must nurture this freedom, we must build on it, we must never give it up in any manner. Jai Hind!

(Courtesy: Sabrang

Yoga Day observed in AMU

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , , ,

IMO News Service

Aligarh: The Department of Physical Education, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) observed the sixth edition of International Day of Yoga on Sunday, June 21 amid the COVID-19 pandemic by going digital sans mass gathering.

In line with the Government of India guidelines on social distancing, Yoga Asanas (Poses) were performed at the Department of Physical Education, where Prof Zamirullah Khan (Chairman) spoke on 'Yoga at Home with Family', the theme for Yoga Day 2020.

Speaking on the importance of yoga and meditation, Prof Zamirullah said that even as AMU is celebrating the Yoga Day indoors like other institutions in the country, it is the feeling of solidarity across the nation in the unprecedented time of the pandemic that keeps the spirits high.

Dr Rajendra Singh interacted with the audience as the Yoga expert, while Dr Merajuddin Faridi conducted the programme. Dr Naushad Waheed Ansari coordinated the event.

Dr Mohd Arshad Bari coordinated with Facebook live session and Dr Sayed Khurram Nisar extended the vote of thanks.

Alish, Vikas Raghav and Nehave Verma were the demonstrators. Over 500 viewers watched the live session on Facebook.

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