May 16, 2010

RENT A ROIT EXPOSE

Posted in Hindutva, India Facts, Riots, Uncategorized at 7:57 am by zarb

FOR THE RIGHT PRICE, YOU CAN GET THE SRI RAM SENE TO ORGANISE A RIOT ANYWHERE. AN EXPOSÉ BY PUSHP SHARMA. WRITTEN BY SANJANA. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY K ASHISH

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MEDIEVAL MINDSET Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik outside a Mangalore court in connection with the pub attack case
PHOTOS: RK BHAT

THERE ARE 133 videos that show up on YouTube when you search for “Mangalore pub attack”. Over 300,000 people have viewed the first video. Put in the same query on Google and 69,000 websites show up in a fraction of a second. On 24 January 2009, a group of 35-40 men barged into a pub in Mangalore and attacked young women as they enjoyed an afternoon drink. Amongst the attackers were members of Sri Ram Sene — a right-wing organisation that was relatively unknown at the time. The Sene cadres considered women drinking publicly as “indecent behaviour” and more importantly “an insult to Hindu culture and tradition”. Two days after the attack, as India marked 60 years of the Constitution coming into force, national television channels looped footage of women being slapped, beaten and chased out of the pub. (In a telling detail, the footage of the assault was available only because the Sene had informed journalists and photographers in Mangalore of their intended attack 30 minutes before they entered the pub.) The footage sparked outrage. News producers from French, Russian, German television channels despatched correspondents to ground zero. Even producers from The Oprah Winfrey Show called in asking for the footage. The Sene had burst onto the scene.

As an organisation, the Sene has always claimed for itself a radical Hindu identity. Its leaders position themselves as zealous custodians of “Hindu religion” and “culture”, its cadres as valiant foot soldiers. In their own words, they will not hesitate to assault people, vandalise property, destroy artistic expressions, separate mixed religion couples — in general, interfere violently — to implement their hardline Hindutva agenda. Their professional calling card is violence justified by a puritanical, spitfire morality.

A six-week undercover investigation by TEHELKA, however, reveals that even this violent, spitfire morality can be a hypocritical sham. Sri Ram Sene members are not just committed ideologues who are spontaneously willing to become violent law-breakers for a “cause”. That’s just one of their criminal and negative faces. They are also cynical lumpen that can be bought for a price. “Contract rioting” — thugs being handed out contracts or money to create riots — no longer needs to be a matter of mere speculation. TEHELKA’s investigation shows it is an alarming reality. Vandalism can be purchased; ‘cultural nationalism’ can go on sale. It’s all kosher in the “business” of outrage.

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‘I cannot get involved directly, I have an image to maintain, I have a certain credibility in society. People look up to me as a man of principles, an idealist, a Hindutvawadi’

PRAMOD MUTHALIK, National President, Sri Ram Sene

To expose this aspect of the Sri Ram Sene, a TEHELKA journalist posing as an artist met Pramod Muthalik, the president of the Sri Ram Sene, with a proposal. Using the rationale that all controversy is good publicity, he asked Muthalik if the Sri Ram Sene would orchestrate a pre-paid, pre-meditated attack on his painting exhibition so that the resulting furore would spark public interest, catapult him to fame and help sell his paintings both in India and abroad by attracting higher bids at art auctions. (Never mind that the supposed paintings this furore might help sell evoked Hindu- Muslim amity, particularly Hindu-Muslim marriages — a phenomenon the Sene abhors.) In return, Muthalik and the Sene would regain the national stature they had achieved during the Mangalore pub attack, besides pocketing the agreed upon fee. Far from rejecting this proposal with horror and outrage, Muthalik readily connected the TEHELKA reporter to one Sene member after another — down a food chain that exposed a disturbingly entrenched criminal mindset, which is confident of fixing the system to abet it.

Before the story of what this food chain threw up, however, it might help to revisit the history of the Sri Ram Sene and its founder.

THE SRI Ram Sene was started in 2007 by Pramod Muthalik, who continues to be its National President. Born in Bagalkot in north Karnataka, Muthalik spent his formative years — he joined a shakha when he was 13 years old — with the Hindu right wing organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). By 1996, his RSS seniors shifted Muthalik to its paramilitary wing, the Bajrang Dal. It took Muthalik less than a year to be named the Dal’s south India convener. People who knew him back then called him “ambitious, dedicated and sharp-tongued”. In his 23-year association with the RSS and its affiliate organisations, Muthalik had several brushes with the law, but despite being charged in numerous cases for provocative speech-making, the only significant time he has spent in jail is two months — a record he maintains till date.

Upset with the BJP’s failure to reward his Hindutva zeal with any political dividends, Muthalik severed ties with the RSS in 2004. He claims the RSS and its affiliate organisations are betraying the Hindu cause by not being hardline enough, and the BJP government in the state too is not helping him enough. Predictably then, extreme hardline Hindutva politics has been the cornerstone of the Sri Ram Sene since it was floated in 2007. Violence is the only way forward, says Muthalik. In 2008, attempting to enter political centre stage, Muthalik floated the Rashtriya Hindustan Sena — the political wing of the Sene — but failed miserably. None of the candidates fielded made a mark. While talking to TEHELKA, Muthalik admits on camera that his candidates lost the state Assembly elections because “we need money, religion and thugs to succeed. We didn’t know that. Today’s political situation is a wretched one.”

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MOB FOR HIRE The attack on Mangalore’s Amnesia Pub (above) in 2009 by Bajrang Dal, Sri Ram Sene and others brought the SRS to national prominence; Sene national vice-president Prasad Attavar (below)
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Resolving to return to electoral politics after establishing himself more stridently, Muthalik and the Sene launched a series of plans to strengthen its “Hindu” identity. Though the organisation is most strongly rooted in the coastal Karnataka region and pockets of north Karnataka, their activities have not been limited to these regions. On August 24, 2008, in Delhi, a few Sene members barged into an art exhibition organised by SAHMAT an NGO, and destroyed several MF Husain paintings, leaving behind a clutch of pamphlets denouncing Husain’s attempts to hurt Hindu pride. A month later in September, speaking at a public event in Mangalore, Muthalik referred to the Bengaluru bomb blasts that had taken place a week earlier and declared 700 Sene members were being trained to carry out suicide attacks. “We have no more patience. Tit for tat is the only mantra before us to save Hinduism,” he had announced. “If centres of religious importance for Hindus are targeted, twice the number of religious centres of the opposite party will be smashed. If Hindu girls are exploited by the members of other religions, double the number of girls from other religions will be targeted.”

Months later, in January 2009, the Karnataka police arrested nine people in connection with bomb blasts that exploded in Hubli during the state Assembly elections. The kingpin, Nagaraj Jambagi, was a Sene member and a close Muthalik associate — a fact Muthalik himself had admitted to at the time. In July 2009, Jambagi was murdered while serving time in Bagalokot Jail.

During the Mangalore pub attack, minutes before he was arrested for inciting his cadres, Muthalik had asked newspersons gathered at the scene why everybody was making such a big issue of the attacks. “We took steps to protect our Hindu culture and punished girls who were attempting to destroy that tradition by going to pubs. We will not tolerate anybody who steps out of this code of decency,” he said then.

This Muthalik-prescribed code of “decency” is still being enforced in several ways in coastal Karnataka. In Mangalore, Sene cadres walked into a Hindu wedding celebration on July 15, 2009, and assaulted a Muslim guest for attending the event. Muslim boys, in fact, are often beaten up across the region merely for talking to Hindu girls. And they have whipped up anxiety and anger about a derisive concept called “Love Jihad”— a conspiracy allegedly evolved by Muslim boys to convert Hindu girls to Islam through proposals of marriage — through vicious attacks and propaganda.

As part of the investigation then, the TEHELKA journalist posing as an artist declared his forthcoming exhibition would be on positive images of “Love Jihad”. But it did not seem to bother Muthalik — or any of the Sene members TEHELKA met — that their help was being sought to boost sales of paintings on a theme they claimed to ideologically oppose. For a man who frequently talks of how he does not have a single bank account in his name and depends entirely on public contributions, Muthalik’s easy acceptance of the proposal is a telling comment in many ways.

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‘Sri Ram Sene has a very good team in place, whatever you want we will deliver. We have a setting for everything. There is only one problem — money problem’

KUMAR, Sri Ram Sene member, Mangalore

Here is how the story unfurled once TEHELKA met with Muthalik.

TEHELKA FIRST met with Muthalik at the Sene office in Hubli. Before laying out the proposal of a preengineered attack on the art exhibition, a cash donation of Rs 10,000 is offered to Muthalik — “Hindutva ke liye hum bhi kuch karen (We want to do our bit for Hindutva).” Muthalik immediately reaches for the money and puts it in his pocket, without even a token refusal.

Over the course of the conversation, a detailed proposal is suggested that could potentially be a mutually beneficial proposition. Muthalik betrays no surprise or shock — not even when the reporter suggests that the art exhibition should be organised in a Muslim-dominated area in Bengaluru for the impact of the attack to be maximised. Muthalik’s only response to the suggestion is — “Yes, we can do it. In Mangalore as well.” The acceptance and the suggestion of Mangalore, another city where the attack can be staged, are instantaneous. Within the next five minutes, Muthalik offers to depute the task of coordination and suggests taking the discussion forward to two Sene leaders — Vasantkumar Bhavani, the President of the Bengaluru city unit, and Prasad Attavar, the Sene vice-president, who is based out of Mangalore.

(Though the conversations are in Hindi, the transcripts have been translated into English here for the purpose of the story.)

TEHELKA: I’ll take leave sir, what I want is to gain popularity and if I get popularity my business will improve. If you say then I…just tell me a time limit… these many boys will be there…this much for advo…meaning that of lawyers…we will not even complain… because that is our understanding… but sir, it is that whatever you say that amount of advance I will leave with you, then I say to you that now it has all come to you, and sir now do the job…

MUTHALIK: Can do it in Mangalore, Bangalore…

TEHELKA: I can get more popularity in the Shivaji Nagar area of Bangalore… because that whole area is theirs…the Muslims. If you give one statement in the press and 10 of your workers reach there…we will shut it down…what is it to us? But at least we will get popularity.

MUTHALIK: Yes, that can be done…

TEHELKA: So sir, just tell me straight up…or tell me to come after two or four days….tell me for certain that ‘This is my expense… you do this much…’ so sir, I’ll complete it and plan it all out…

MUTHALIK: What I’m telling you, our president there…

TEHELKA: of Bangalore?

MUTHALIK: Of Bangalore…he is also very strong…on speaking to him…all three of us — you, me and him — will sit and plan out what is to be done…then we will do it…definitely do it

The hour long conversation is peppered with choice abuses and a vitriolic diatribe against Muslims and their “plans to divide the country”. Love jihad, Muthalik tells TEHELKA, is the Muslims’ way of conquering over Hindus, by increasing their own population. Muslims, he continues, pursue Hindu Brahmin or Jain girls so that their children can inherit their brains and be intellectually sharp to help them in their mission.

According to him, this calculated strategy by Muslims was taking place across the country with increasing frequency. When TEHELKA asks him why Hindu boys were not engaging in a similar counteractivity, Muthalik said the Sri Ram Sene was now inspiring Hindu boys to pursue Muslim girls.

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‘I worked in the RSS first in 1996, then the Bajrang Dal. I was in the main team that attacked the Mangalore pub. But my name is not there in the police case, I was never arrested’

SUDHIR PUJARI, Sri Ram Sene member, Mangalore

Over this conversation, TEHELKA repeated its proposal several times — opportunities were given to Muthalik to decline the offer of money. But Muthalik offers to brief other Sene associates, who will play definitive roles in the execution of the plan, and connect them with TEHELKA. The date for the next meeting is fixed and personal phone numbers are exchanged. Muthalik asks TEHELKA to return a week later.

He is categorical that, as the National President of the Sene, he is conscious of the trouble he will be in if he is caught planning details of the operation, so he says he will talk over specifics with his associates Prasad Attavar, Vasanthkumar Bhavani and Jeetesh and then put them on to TEHELKA. Throughout there is no ambiguity that Muthalik heads the chain of command and that the final decisionmaking power rests with him.

DESPITE MUTHALIK’S intervention, connecting with Prasad Attavar, the National Vice-President of Sri Ram Sene, was no easy task. He treats almost everyone with suspicion and consequently never answers any of his mobile phones. Therefore, it took TEHELKA several days to catch up with him. Considered to be a close associate of Muthalik, Attavar is credited with leading the Sene to notoriety in Mangalore. Having been with the Sri Ram Sene since its inception in 2007, Attavar exercises tremendous control over the Sene cadres. In Mangalore, Attavar runs a security agency in partnership with another Sene member. Unlike several others, he is not dependent on the Sene for financial stability. In January 2009, Attavar openly claimed responsibility for the Mangalore pub attack. When another TEHELKA reporter had contacted him for a story at the time, Attavar had even claimed responsibility for planning the attack. He had called the media to the spot himself, he said. Days later, Attavar and 27 others, including Muthalik, were arrested for their role in the pub attack. A week later, when a Mangalore city magistrate granted them bail, Attavar and the others were accorded a hero’s welcome.

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PUBLIC LOSS The charred remains of a bus vandalised after Attavar’s arrest in the wake of the pub attack
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HATE-MONGERS Muthalik and other Sene members display propaganda material against ‘Love Jihad’

When contact was finally made with Attavar, a Sene cadre called Jeetesh was sent to take TEHELKA to a nondescript hotel in Mangalore for the meeting. A few minutes into the conversation, it became evident that Attavar was evading arrest — a warrant had been issued against him. The police had charged him with executing the orders of an underworld don, Ravi Pujari. Pujari is rumoured to have worked with Mumbai gangster Chhota Rajan, and later with Dawood Ibrahim, before establishing his own empire. Besides having interests in the tourism and hospitality sector, Pujari allegedly also has interests in Karnataka’s real estate industry. As Pujari’s associate, Attavar has been accused of threatening businessmen and builders in Karnataka’s coastal region as part of an extortion racket that is controlled from outside India.

Having been briefed by Muthalik, Attavar is completely aware of the TEHELKA reporter’s proposal from the first moment of conversation. His suggestions therefore are concrete and to the point. He offers a choice of organising the exhibition (and the attack) outside Karnataka as well. “We can do it in Mumbai, Kolkata or Orissa as well,” he says.

When TEHELKA suggests the impact of the planned attack against the artist would be enhanced considerably if an engineered threat could be issued by his associate, Ravi Pujari, Attavar agrees it is doable — thereby confirming his proximity with the don.

A minute later, he talks how the police need to be taken into confidence: they have to be “set”. Additionally, the boys who will participate in the attack have to be from outside Mangalore, he says.

TEHELKA: We don’t have to go to the police, neither do we have to do a case… so if a case is filed it won’t stand because there is no party in front… we people will not identify…

ATTAVAR: That setting with the department I’ll do….

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‘I will tell you how much money is needed. It will be like the Mangalore pub attack, even better. You will get full national media coverage, I assure you. I’ll do all the setting for you’

PRASAD ATTAVAR, National Vice-President, Sri Ram Sene

Six days after this meeting with TEHELKA, Attavar was arrested by the Mangalore police, taken to Mangalore Jail and then remanded to judicial custody. He was placed in Bellary Jail — considered to be one of Karnataka’s high-security prisons. Throughout, however, Attavar continued to maintain contact with TEHELKA and TEHELKA managed to meet with Attavar both in the Mangalore and Bellary jails. At the meeting in Mangalore Jail, when TEHELKA asked if Rs 50 lakh would be enough to organise the riots in two different cities, Attavar’s answer is inconclusive. He asks for more time to return with a final figure. “I will calculate the final amount and let you know,” is all he will finally agree to. The discussion revolves around the final amount — there is no opposition to the proposal at all.

PRASAD: What all is to be done…does arrangement for hotel need to be done?

TEHELKA: No that I’ll do…your input will only be the team and the rest…

TEHELKA: We need to create a riot…we have to have violence…50 lakh is being spent on two cities..

PRASAD: In Mangalore …

TEHELKA: Yes about 200 workers should be there…at the time of the exhibition…

PRASAD: Yes…

At Bellary Jail, a mere payment of Rs 2,500 to some wardens and SN Hullur, the Superintendent at Bellary Jail is sufficient to set up a meeting with Attavar in a separate discussion room. (So much for the norms of a high-security jail). At this meeting, Attavar says he has no money and asks the TEHELKA reporter for some money to tide him over. The reporter gives him Rs 3,000. After this meeting in the jail, Attavar frequently texted TEHELKA asking the reporter to call back. Alarmingly, both accessibility and mobile connectivity within a high security prison seemed easy for Attavar. His advocate, Sanjay Solanki later told TEHELKA that Attavar’s access to mobile phones was possible as Superintendent SN Hullur had been handsomely paid. (TEHELKA has not corroborated this independently.)

AFEW DAYS after the meeting with Muthalik, TEHELKA also connected with Vasantkumar Bhavani, the Bengaluru city unit head of the Sri Ram Sene. Bhavani is the Sene’s de facto public relations man. He is fluent in English and Hindi and lives in Bengaluru. Immediately after the pub attacks in Mangalore, Bhavani had travelled from one television studio to another, staunchly defending the Sene’s action and its ideology. In one memorable live interview, when a women’s rights activist challenged the Sene’s ideology by saying alcohol had long been a part of Hindu traditions, Bhavani’s specious rebuttal silenced her completely: “Go ask your grandmother to drink alcohol. I will buy her a drink myself.” The sheer ridiculousness of Bhavani’s arguments coupled with his vehemence made him a hot favourite with most media channels at the time.

A realtor by profession, Bhavani is considerably wealthy and, like Attavar, does not depend on the Sene to back him financially. Ask him for the numerical strength of Sene cadres in Bengaluru and there are no answers forthcoming. “Even Pramod [Muthalik] does not ask me that question. Dealing with numbers is unnecessary. My boys will be in trouble if the police realises our true strength,” he says. (In February this year, when the Sene announced its usual opposition to Valentine’s Day celebrations, the police rounded up 400 men as part of its preventive arrests.)

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RECALL FACTOR Sri Ram Sene members deface posters and paintings of MF Husain at an exhibition organised by SAHMAT in Delhi in 2008
Photo: SHAILENDRA PANDEY

A fortnight before TEHELKA met with Bhavani, he had led a Sene protest in Bengaluru against Muthalik’s humiliation. (In an unfortunate incident that mirrored their own intolerant politics, Muthalik’s face had been blackened by members of the Karnataka State Youth Congress during a television debate on Valentine’s Day celebrations. Bhavani and several others had been arrested during the Sene’s counter-protests.)

In his conversation with TEHELKA, the talk revolves cynically around the specifics of the planned attack in Bengaluru and how its impact can best be maximised. Here’s what Bhavani suggests:

BHAVANI: You know Ravindra Kalashetra, right?

TEHELKA: Yes, Yes…

BHAVANI: Behind it is an open stage.

TEHELKA: How many people can that accommodate?

BHAVANI: Two thousand…

TEHELKA: Two thousand… but is that communally sensitive?

BHAVANI: It is also communally sensitive… the market is also close by from there…

TEHELKA: City market?

BHAVANI: City market…

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‘I was charged under IPC Section 307, half murder, for the Kasargod clash. I killed two or three people with a sword. They attacked two of our men, so we got two of theirs’

JEETESH, Udupi unit head, Sri Ram Sene

TEHELKA: Yes, there’s a Muslim area there…

BHAVANI: That is why that place is very good for you… the scope there is much better than in Shivaji Nagar because in the close by areas the Muslim population is very high.

TEHELKA: Yes, in city market it is… but the area there is mostly commercial?

BHAVANI: It suits to what you have in mind…

TEHELKA: It suits the profile that we have…

BHAVANI: It suits that better than Shivaji Nagar… Shivaji Nagar is a remote area whereas this is more suitable it suits your purpose.

TEHELKA: If it is done in Shivaji Nagar it will look like there is not much educated class there so why do it there… if it is done in city market.

BHAVANI: This is matching your idea and your concept… because illiterates will not come and watch your gallery… who will watch it are your upper class… middle class.

TEHELKA: Elite class…

BHAVANI: It will mostly be the upper class… so upper class… if you keep it in Shivaji Nagar, who will come and watch it… it will look preplanned to everybody…

TEHELKA: Hmmm…

BHAVANI: If done in Shivaji Nagar… if looked at from a different direction it seems right… but it will not get much publicity…

TEHELKA: Yes people might think… that it is an under-table alliance

BHAVANI: Could look like that….

Having secured an agreement on the venue, a discussion on dates follows. Referring to the calendar on his phone, Bhavani politely asks us for our preference — weekdays or weekends? — before suggesting weekends himself. More people are likely to attend art exhibitions on weekends, he says. Venue and dates out of the way, Bhavani methodically moves on to plan the protest itself. When TEHELKA asks if inaugurating the exhibition by a Muslim community leader or politician will raise the octane of the event and attack, Bhavani not only approves, he has suggestions of his own:

TEHELKA: In this programme, Vasant, I need public beating for sure, because as your trademark is and I want to call a Muslim leader for the inauguration, so some people from the Muslim community will be there… there is Prof Hujra at IIM.

BHAVANI: Why don’t you call Mumtaj Ali…

TEHELKA: Who…

BHAVANI: Mumtaj Ali Khan…

TEHELKA: Who is he?

BHAVANI: The minister of Waqf board… now.

TEHELKA: From Karnataka?

BHAVANI: Yes.

TEHELKA: He will come… How old would Mumtaj Ali be?

TEHELKA: Above 50…

TEHELKA: 50-plus… Is he an MLC or MLA?

BHAVANI: Being an MLC… he is a backdoor entry… he is a minister… Huj committee or Waqf Board…

TEHELKA: Apart from him, wasn’t there another one who became Rail Minister…

BHAVANI: CK Jaffar…

TEHELKA: Jaffar Sharief…

BHAVANI: He is too old now…

Bhavani also asserts that other preparations are necessary as well. Ominously, for instance, an ambulance at the venue:

BHAVANI: Like if you keep Husain’s name itself it will be good… will make it popular.

TEHELKA: No, if we keep Husain, I will not get the ‘mileage’, instead he will get the ‘mileage’…

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‘If we can agree on an amount, then I will talk to my boss, Muthalik. He gives us the green signal for action but the screen script is all ready with him. You think about your offer’

VASANTKUMAR BHAVANI, Ram Sene head, Bengaluru

BHAVANI: Mileage will go to him… I cannot give assurance for this… how much damage you will bear… there will be damage… but how much that I cannot guarantee… because our boys are very ferocious boys… they don’t look left or right…

TEHELKA: If it is to be done, it is to be done…

BHAVANI: Done… I cannot avoid them also because they will get annoyed with me then… if the leader is ferocious, the followers will also be ferocious… this much I want to tell you… there will be damage, but how mach I cannot say…

TEHELKA: Can there be public beatings…

VASANT: Can be done… whoever they find there… because our boys do all this also…

TEHELKA: If there is a crowd, they cannot control themselves, right?

BHAVANI: No, usually they can’t…

TEHELKA: Will we have to keep an ambulance ready?

BHAVANI: Absolutely… that can also happen… after all, they are my boys… if they take any task in hand… then… you have to tell them… you have to make them understand… more cases will add on… already there are lots of pending cases… try and control… only target whatever is on display…

TEHELKA: Do damage…

BHAVANI: Do damage… do not touch the people…

TEHELKA: But they usually don’t listen

BHAVANI: I’ll make them understand this much, but I can’t ensure… there is someone or the other… who damage whatever comes in front… such lunatics they are…

TEHELKA: That means I need to keep an ambulance ready in advance… should keep that in mind…

There is further evidence of the Sene’s preparedness and calculated approach to protests and destructive violence. While discussing the aftermath of the attacks, when TEHELKA offers to not file cases against the Sene, Bhavani turns down the suggestion. If cases aren’t filed against the attackers, people will suspect that the attack has been pre-engineered, he says. It doesn’t matter if they are hauled to court, Bhavani reassures. They are prepared to deal with such conditions and TEHELKA would be handed instructions by them on how to deal with the legalities and fallout once the attack has proven successful.

TEHELKA: From our side in this gallery programme… whatever riot happens inside the art gallery, we are not going to register a case… when there is no rival party…

VASANT: You will have to register a case…

(A discussion follows this assertion on how Attavar, Bhavani’s counterpart in the group, suggests a different approach)

TEHELKA: So a case needs to be registered?

VASANT: You will have to file it… if there is a wrongdoing, a case has to be filed…

TEHELKA: Don’t you think it’s going to be very complicated then?

VASANT: It has to be complicated then only the purpose will be solved… once inside the water, whats the point of fearing the depth…

TEHELKA: Ok, whatever you say… but coming to court regularly, standing there… for any man it will be a very difficult task to come 3,000 km to attend the court cases…

VASANT: We will give you a way out of that… once this turns out to be a success, I will sit and explain it to you… what is to done, how it needs to be done…

TEHELKA: Set any of the local lawyers who gets the date extended… will keep on happening…

VASANT: I will tell you… I will explain it to you… I will explain to you what has to be done and how it has to be done…

TEHELKA: Ok.

VASANT: But you have to be mentally prepared…

Minutes later, Bhavani proceeds to discuss the “fees” with TEHELKA.

“Give me a figure so I can take the discussion forward with sir [Muthalik],” Bhavani says. The TEHELKA reporter writes Rs 70 lakh on a sheet of paper and pushes it towards Bhavani. His immediate response is to ask how much has been offered to Attavar, the Sene National vice-president and the pointperson in Mangalore. (Though the figure written by the reporter on paper is not visible on camera, the offer is corroborated on camera in a later conversation with Muthalik.) When he is informed that the same amount was offered to Attavar too, Bhavani dismisses it saying, “Attavar will never settle for this amount.” Bhavani then insists that TEHELKA should also set aside money to pay off the police:

TEHELKA: They told me two lines… separate for organisation (SRS)… separate for the workers… so I said five lakh for the organisation… so they said they will see… on the level of the workers, if there is a case then fair enough, we will give Rs 50,000 to each worker… some will go to him and some can be used in the case… if 10 boys come then five lakh… what he suggested… what your dealings are with the organisation, you discuss with Muthalikji himself… as for the boys… that I will give you… the arrangement with the police… that also I will do… will have to be done…

BHAVANI: The police will also be managed… without that, it cannot be done…

TEHELKA: I agree, so the money is going in three phases… separately for the organisation… separately for the workers… and separately for the police?

BHAVANI: Separately for the police…

Yet another discussion follows on the modes of payment. The TEHELKA reporter asks if the fee for the riot can be paid by cheque instead of cash. Bhavani refuses categorically. The business of outrage obviously cannot be transacted through legal financial instruments.

THE METHODICAL approach with which these Sri Ram Sene functionaries approached TEHELKA’s proposal could be an indication of the organisation’s engagement with similar activities in the past. At the very least, it exposes the Sene’s adroitness in dealing with the law and the police — and the loopholes it slips through whenever it engages in violence.

TEHELKA’s conversations with Sri Ram Sene cadres in Udupi and Mangalore reaffirmed this very strongly. After TEHELKA spoke with Attavar, Jeetesh — the head of the Sene’s Udupi unit — agreed to introduce TEHELKA to Sene cadres who would ultimately execute the attack. Kumar and Sudhir Poojari, two such cadres, spoke freely of their involvement in earlier Sene attacks, including the infamous pub attack on January 24, 2009. All three — Jeetesh, Poojari and Kumar — had evaded police arrest despite having been part of the pub attack. All three had also spent several years with the RSS and Bajrang Dal before joining the Sri Ram Sene.

A minute into the conversation, Kumar and Poojari brag about how they gave the police the slip. Kumar also talks of his involvement in a previous incident that left eight Muslims injured. “They had to be admitted in the hospital,” he says, “after we attacked them.”

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SAFFRON GETS PINK Sri Ram Sene members check out the pink undergarments gifted to them as a mark of protest against their attack on women at a Mangalore pub
Photo: KPN

Jeetesh has several similar stories. A day earlier, in his meeting with TEHELKA, Jeetesh talked openly of an incident in 2007 when he and two others had attacked a church where they believed coerced conversions were taking place. According to him, three or four pastors were hospitalised after the attack, while Jeetesh and his cohorts were handed jail terms. A few minutes later, he recounts an even more gruesome incident. Jeetesh, then a resident of Kasargod in Kerala and a member of the Bajrang Dal, was involved in an attack on a mosque. In a calm voice, he tells TEHELKA about how he attacked a maulvi with a sword. The maulvi died and Jeetesh was charged with murder. After four months in jail, he was bailed out, he says. Throughout that period, he says he was supported by the Bajrang Dal with lawyers at hand to handle his bail applications. Once he was released, Jeetesh moved to Udupi. A few years later, when Muthalik started the Sri Ram Sene, he joined him. The conversation constantly hovers around a hatred for Muslims and Christians and their plans to take over the world.

As his comfort level increased, Jeetesh also shared another important piece of information. In 2006, along with 100 others, Jeetesh says he participated in an arms training camp organised by the Sri Ram Sene. The firearms they used at the camp were largely unlicensed, he said, but refused to volunteer any further details.

A day later, he accompanied TEHELKA to meet with Attavar, the Sene vice president, and plan the specifics of the proposed attack in Mangalore.

AFTER THE meetings with Attavar and Bhavani, where they agree to organise attacks in Bengaluru, Mangalore or Mysore, TEHELKA met with Muthalik again. The only issue left to clinch was the amount. While discussions with Attavar (inside Mangalore Jail) had pegged the cost between Rs 50 to 60 lakh, the negotiation with Bhavani had been for Rs 70 lakh. TEHELKA asks Muthalik if these sums are agreeable to him.

TEHELKA: Sir, is it ok if we remain in touch over the phone with Prasadji? Because, sir, I refrain from calling over the phone…

MUTHALIK: Yes …yes…

TEHELKA: Well with… Prasadji… fine… but I just wanted to confirm with you, maybe Sharmaji won’t appreciate it, but I wanted to have clarity about money… because I was told Rs 60 lakh for three locations.

MUTHALIK: Haaan.

TEHELKA: Rs 60 lakh… it’s ok from your side?

MUTHALIK: Who told you about it?

TEHELKA: Vasantji had told…

MUTHALIK: Yes… yes.

TEHELKA: So I decided to confirm once again…

MUTHALIK: Yes… yes… I can’t tell about the money… it’s their job only they can do it…

As the story goes to press, Attavar and his advocate Sanjay Solanki have continued to be in touch about the modalities and fees for planning the attack. In the last conversation, Solanki told TEHELKA that Attavar’s bail application pending with the Karnataka High Court would be accepted. Solanki categorically mentions that they will try and manage the judicial process and have already committed Rs 1.5 lakh to that process (TEHELKA has not corroborated this independently — this could be a wild claim for all we know). Advocate Solanki also assured TEHELKA that a conversation with Attavar — which would clinch the deal and close on the final terms of payment — would be possible very soon.

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November 2, 2008

15 miscreants arrested for forcing Muslims to shave beards

Posted in Riots at 11:56 am by zarb

15 miscreants arrested for forcing Muslims to shave beards

Mumbai: The curfew has lifted in the riot-hit Dhule Township and its suburbs in East Maharashtra and police has geared up mass arrest for investigations. According to the sources in Dhule police, during last 15 days 310 people have been arrested for links to different activities. More than two hundreds were taken into judicial custody while the rest is still in police custody. Relief and rehabilitation work has started for riot victims as well.

The police have arrested those 15 culprits who forced Majeed Mansoori, Anwar Panjari and Aarif Panjari to shave their beards during the riot in Khandala village 30 Km from Dhule. Majeed Mansoori informed this correspondent that the DSP called us to identify the culprits. We singled out those 15 persons who not only forced us but stopped Namaz and Azan through Loudspeaker in the mosque. He also said that police have assured all protection of our homes and village but we did not return to our homes. We still fear that miscreants may retaliate on us any time.

The police filed case under article No. 506, 452, 149, 295, 147, 153 and 143 of the IPC yet police are probing the veracity of the case.

October 17, 2008

Theories on Bhainsa riots and Killings ?

Posted in Human Rights, Minorities, Riots at 10:58 am by zarb

Hyderabad,October 13:The involvement of rebel TRS mla is recent riots in  bhainsa     is an eyeopener,The mla factory was used by miscreants to set the town ablase,most of the rowdy elements were seen operating from the factory in carrying out their attack on muslims of bhainsa .

Police are reportedly investigating the role of a TRS rebel MLA from Adilabad district and members of the Hindu Vahini, in the communal violence at Bhainsa, even as six persons of a family were burnt alive in a house in nearby Watoli village early Sunday morning.

Many eyewitness has taken the name of patel as the main suspect in these riots and he happens to be trs rebel mla and now under the patronage of congress party.

Just a day before the riots the TDP has extended support for the TELANGANA statehood which was a historical decleration.The congress party is on a backfoot after this declaration and the involment of rebel TRS mla in riots has lot of questions to be answered as majority of congress leaders of andhra are against  formation of telangana state.
Muslims all over the country are not taking the UpA governement role specially the arrests and torture of innocent boys in the name of terrorissm lightly,Jamia millia fake encounter and the govt failure to appoint a judicial commission to enquire, has hurt the muslims feeling all over the country.

Atleast in AP muslims have aternate secular forces like TDP and rjp of chirenjeevi to vote . Can these riots are trigerred to consolidate muslims votes  ? and for whom ?

Can these riots be engineered by congress leadership to put the telangana issue on a back burner by raising a communal issue in andhra pradesh .

Bjp is non-existenent in AP  and a spent force till now but bjp can be  a big gainer in telangana if communal tensions are aroused.Maharastra is just 40 km from bhaisa and there are good chances of shiv sena and bajrang dal forces comming from maharastra for formenting trouble in AP.

Bjp has tasted power in karnataka by playing the soft communal card and they are bent upon playing an active role in andhra politics  ,as Ap will have  a triangular and four cornered fights Bjp wants to fish in the trouble waters of andhra pradesh to fetch some good catch.

 

The home minister Jana reddy  claims that these people died because of electric short circuit but the govt did their best to prove that this incident was an accident through the television channels and govt agencies.

Girl raped:

It has been proved without doubt that the girl was raped and burnt ,Al the 5 members of the family were burned beyond recognition except this girl.

 

Anti-Muslim riots in North Assam

Guwahati: Anti-Muslim violence erupted in north Assam in early October between militant Bodo tribals and Muslims in which an estimated 150 Muslims have been killed so far, hundreds have been injured, mostly women and children, and around 150,000 Muslims have been made homeless. They are now living in temporary camps which lack basic amenities and sanitation. The violence is almost totally one sided and almost official as the Bodo militants attacking Muslims are actually “Surrendered Security Battallion” (SSB) which is the security force of the autonomous Bodo Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) and consists of the former Bobo militants who have been absorbed in an official security force in the wake of the settlement of February 2003. Worst areas are the districts of Darang, Udalgiri and Gwalpara which are considered communally sensitive areas. About 60 villages have been emptied of their Muslim population as a result of these attacks. Several hundred houses and other immovable properties have been set on fire. The new refugees join the earlier 45,000 refugees who are displaced since 1993.

National Highway No. 52 has been closed and curfew has been clamped in various localities. Order has also been given to shoot at site. These physical attacks are synchronised with media attack on the Muslims of Assam as they are dubbed as “Bangladeshis” without any proof. In addition to NE TV and Times Now, all local channels and newspapers are unashamedly dubbing these Muslims as “Bangladeshis” even as the Assam government denies these charges. Even PTI is parrotting these cliches.

A number of injured persons have been admitted in Guwahati Medical College and Hospital, condition of many of whom is very serious. State government is unable to control the riotous situation. Udalgiri’s Police Superintendent has been suspended and replaced by Manoj Agarwal. Another officer Abu Sufian has been given the charge of maintaining law and order in the affected areas. It may be stated here that the state of unrest has in fact been prevailing for the past one and a half months and in spite of deployment of large contingents of CRPF, army and imposition of curfew etc, end of violence is nowhere in sight. Influential Muslims in letters to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil have appealed for immediate intervention by centre to bring the situation under control. 

Bodos in order to extend their land to form a larger Bodoland have joined hands with communal Hindu organsations like Bajrang Dal, VHP. They are openly telling Muslims that they are “Bangladeshis” and hence must quit India. Since the Congress government of the state stands with the help of Bodos crutches, it cannot do anything against the Bodos for fear of Bodos removing the crutches. (With inputs from AH Imran, editor, The Qalam Weekly)

August 17, 2008

Posted in Minorities, Riots tagged , , , , , , at 8:25 am by zarb

Bandh turns violent in Madhya Pradesh; 5 killed in Indore

 Friday, 04 July 2008:

Bhopal: At least five people were killed several injured as communal clashes erupted in many towns of Madhya Pradesh on Thursday during the BJP-VHP bandh over the Amarnath land deal in Jammu and Kashmir. Following incidents of communal flare-up, the police imposed curfew in Pandharinath, Chatripura, Malharganj and Khajrana localities of the city.

According to police sources, curfew was imposed in four areas of Indore after members of two communities indulged in violence. A violent mob also pelted stones at Khajrana police station damaging vehicles parked in the premises, an official said, adding police resorted to lathi-charge and used teargas shells to control the situation. Protestors also damaged a Reliance Fresh store at Janjeerwala square

Indore’s Inspector General of Police Anil Kumar said four people, killed in group clashes, were yet to be identified.

The situation was tense in old city areas of Bhopal where stone pelting and arson took place as pro- and anti-shutdown groups clashed, the police said.

Half a dozen vehicles were set on fire by a mob forcing the strike near a Bhopal cinema.

Violence erupted near old Bhopal’s bus stand area and adjacent localities when activists of the BJP, the Shiv Sena and the VHP forced the shopkeepers to down their shutters.

They beat up some shopkeepers and passers-by.

A trader in Satna area set himself afire after a mob allegedly looted his jewellery shop, beat him with sticks and threatened him if he reported the matter to the police.

“Bajrang Dal activists in main Satna market reached the jewellery shop of Heera Soni and asked him to close the shop. When he refused, they barged into the shop, looted some jewellery and beat him up,” Narendra Soni, the victim’s younger brother, told mediapersons.

“The activists also threatened him following which my brother out of fear set himself ablaze. The police also beat up my brother so that he does not report the matter to the higher authorities,” Narendra alleged.

Heera was taken to Satna district hospital where he breathed his last in the evening, the police said.

Clashes between people belonging to two communities also occurred in Shahjehanabad, Budhwara, Itwara and Karond in old Bhopal.

According to reports, rioting between the workers of the BJP and the VHP and some shopkeepers also took place in Jabalpur, Indore and Dhar. Several shops were damaged in Jabalpur.

Angry over the forced closure, some people threw stones at the shutdown supporters from the rooftops of their houses, triggering minor clashes in communally sensitive old Bhopal.

Authorities later deployed personnel from the Rapid Action Force (RAF) to control the situation.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said that the guilty would not be spared.

“The violence was unfortunate and a thorough probe will be conducted. The situation in the state is completely under control,” he told mediapersons at his residence late Thursday evening.

In the state capital also witnessed scattered violence in many areas. Similarly, incidents of violence have also been reported from Jhabua, Satna, Sagar, Gwalior and Jabalpur. ,Section 144 has been imposed in Jhabua to control the situation, while in Satna a businessman put himself on fire even as protesters went on a rampage in other parts of the state.

Major highways that were temporarily blocked include the Agra-Delhi highway in Delhi and Western Express Highway in Mumbai. Many trains are also being targeted; Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express has been stopped near Agra.

The VHP is also taking an active part in the bandh. “The forest act issue is just an excuse,” VHP general secretary Venkatesh Abdeo said. “This is a conspiracy to stop the Amarnath pilgrimage. Tomorrow it will be Vaishnodevi and Tirupati.”

The severity of the bandh is especially strong in NDA ruled states. Major disruptions have been reported in Punjab, where BJP activists have took to the streets in Ludhiana and Jalandhar.

In many parts of MP, schools and colleges have been shutdown to prevent any untoward incident.

Amarnath row: Bandh hits normal life, 2 dead in Indore

Mumbai, July 3: The nationwide bandh called by BJP and VHP on the Amarnath land transfer row turned violent in Indore on Thursday leaving two persons killed while highways were blocked and trains stopped disrupting normal life in parts of the country.

The bandh evoked mixed response but Jammu region, the epicentre of protests since Tuesday, had no respite from violence when protesters set afire vehicles and fought pitched battles with police at several places. The bandh was called in protest against revocation of Amarnath land transfer.

Another 25 persons were injured on Thursday in Jammu region taking the total number of injured to nearly 100 while curfew remained in force for the third consecutive day in parts of the region.

Normal life was hit in parts of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Assam and Jharkand where incidents of stone pelting and road blockade were reported prompting police to resort to lathicharge.

The bandh had little or no response in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Tripura. In Delhi, no untoward incident was reported but several arterial roads were blocked. Shops and business establishments remained closed in a few areas.

Curfew was imposed in four areas of Indore in Mahdya Pradesh after members of two communities indulged in violence.

A violent mob also pelted stones at Khajrana police station damaging vehicles parked in the premises, an official said, adding police canecharged and used teargas shells to control the situation. Protestors also damaged a Reliance Fresh store in Janjeerwala square

“Two persons have been killed in violence in Khajrana area while six others are injured,” Indore Collector Rakesh Shrivastava told reporters. One of the injured is reported to be in a serious condition.

As the situation turned violent in Indore, district administration imposed curfew in four areas including Muslim dominated Bombay Bazar and Mukeripura. Police have arrested five persons.

With the state BJP opting out in Gujarat, the bandh got a lukewarm response in the state.

Most of the business establishments, small shops and offices were functioning as usual in Ahmedabad while some malls and shopping centres remained closed.

Incidents of stone pelting and road blockades were reported in some parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai and in Thane. Five BEST buses were damaged in Mumbai’s suburban Kandivili areas in stone throwing by protesters, police said.

VHP supporters halted traffic on some key roads in Vakola, Malad and Borivilli areas in north-west Mumbai and in the northeastern suburb of Ghatkopar causing hardships to officergoers, police said, adding that the saffron activists were dispersed and vehicular movement restored.

Reports of stone pelting on state-owned buses came in Maharashtra’s Thane region where BJP and VHP workers forced show-owners to down shutters.

In Punjab, scores of BJP activists stopped the Howrah-Amritsar express in Ludhiana and stopped road traffic and forced closure of shops in certain parts of the state.

elhi-Bhopal Shatabdi express was stopped by BJP and VHP workers for about 30 minutes in the cantonment station in Agra where protesters got some markets shut and a section of lawyers owing allegiance to the saffron outfits boycotted courts.

In Left-ruled West Bengal, the bandh had little impact with public transport largely remaining unaffected. Some disruption in train schedules were reported in the Sealdah section as BJP workers squatted on tracks.

VHP bandh: Curfew imposed in Indore

Indore: Curfew was imposed in Bombay Bazar and Mukeripura areas of Indore on Thursday and Section 144 has been clamped in Khajrana area following violence during the bandh called by VHP over Amarnath land issue.

Police canecharged and used teargas shells to control the situation as members of two communities indulged in violence, Indore Superintendent of Police R K Choudhry said.

Heavy police force has been deployed in the areas to prevent further flare up, he said.

Meanwhile, protestors damaged a Reliance Fresh store in Janjeerwala square. Police have arrested five persons in this connection

 

Bharath Bandh: Saffron activists forced closure of shops, blocked roads

New Delhi: Normal life was hit in parts of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra as saffron activists stopped trains, blocked roads and forced closure of shops in the wake of an all-India bandh called by BJP and VHP on the Amarnath land transfer issue.

In Left-ruled West Bengal, the bandh had little impact with public transport largely remaining unaffected. Some disruption in train schedules were reported in the Sealdah section as BJP workers squatted on tracks.

Roads were blocked and shops and business establishments remained closed in a few areas in Delhi. Protesters blocked the Delhi-Noida flyway and some arterial roads in east and central Delhi. NH 17 was also reportedly blocked in Udupi, Kundapur and Byndoor in Karnataka and Safron activist pelted stones on vehicles.

In Punjab, scores of BJP activists stopped the Howrah- Amritsar express in Ludhiana and stopped road traffic and forced closure of shops in certain parts of the state to protest revocation of the order on transfer of land to the shrine board by the Jammu and Kashmir government.

Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi express was stopped by BJP and VHP workers for about half-and-hour in the cantonment station in Agra where protesters got some markets shut and a section of lawyers owing allegiance to the saffron outfits boycotted courts.

Shops and business establishments in several parts of Karnataka remained closed with Dakshina, Udupi, Mysore, Kodagu and Hubli-Dharwad regions being hit even as bus services were affected in certain areas.

The bandh, however, failed to evoke much response in Bangalore where government offices functioned normally and public transport plied as usual. The bandh is not being support by the BJP-ruled Karnataka government, officials said.

Incidents of stone pelting and road blockades were reported in some parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai. Five BEST buses were damaged in Mumbai’s suburban Kandivili areas in stone throwing by protesters, police said.

July 26, 2008

Communal Riots – 2005

Posted in Riots tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:49 pm by zarb

Communal Riots – 2005

By Asghar Ali Engineer

22 January 2006

Like 2004 the year 2005 was also comparatively less violent as far as communal riots are concerned. In fact it is Gujarat, which takes the cake. Perhaps for years to come nothing like Gujarat carnage is likely to take place. Communal carnage of the kind, which took place in Gujarat is not possible without active support of the state machinery. But that does not mean communal violence does not take place at all. It does.

One can put communal violence under two categories: 1) Communal violence which is carefully planned and executed with political or state support or at least with subtle state connivance. Such violence results in great losses of lives as well as properties. It goes on for a long period of time and is deliberately not controlled unless the stated goal is achieved. Anti-Sikh riots of 1984, Bhagalpur riots of 1989, Mumbai riots of 1992-93 and Gujarat riots of 2002 are its obvious examples.

2) Those riots which spontaneously break out on minor causes like dispute on land or money matters between two individuals or groups, knocking out somebody accidentally by car or scooter or construction of mosque or temple etc. Since these are unplanned and spontaneous clashes can be easily controlled, given little determination on the part of police. And in such riots few lives are lost or not much damage is done to properties.

The second category of riots takes place as a result of constant communal propaganda. It is important to note that absence of communal violence does not mean absence of communal propaganda. Communal propaganda goes on riots or no riots. Thus communal forces keep on poisoning the minds of people and keep on promoting animosity between the communities. And so skirmishes continue.

Communal Riots in 2005

It began with Vadodra, Gujarat on 4th February. Gujarat is highly communalised state today in India, thanks to BJP rule and Narendra Modi’s open hostility to Muslims. Trouble began when people in a marriage procession, accompanied by DJ and high power music system, allegedly beat up an auto-rickshaw driver passing on the same rout when he complained of traffic jam. The driver belonged to the minority community, ran away after being beaten up. Soon thereafter a mob came and pelted in stones. A posse of policemen rushed and lobbed four tear gas shells. About a dozen people including a policeman were injured. Four persons were arrested and police also seized the music system.

The rioting in Vadodra was followed by one in Jaunpur village Khetasarai on 4th February. Here it was result of dispute about a cemetery land. In this one woman was killed and 23 persons were injured. Communal tension mounted in the area subsequent to this incident. Violence erupted when some people hoisted saffron flag on the cemetery land when settlement process was on. Then people of one community set fire to two houses of another community. And in response to that people of another community set fire to one shop. Then PAC reinforcements were brought. The people of two communities gathered in large numbers and raised slogans against each other. The police arrested 23 persons from both the communities.

On 8th February communal violence broke out in Rajnandgaon of Chattisgarh. This was result of two girls having fled from their houses and two groups fought on that. Then firing began and then first 144 was clamped and then curfew in the area. There was no news, however, of any death.

Then it was turn of Azamgarh district on 9th February when dispute on distribution of kerosene in Diwali Khalsa village in which 12 persons were injured. Some people belonging to another community tried to enter the queue out of turn and situation went out of control. The police rushed to the spot and controlled the situation.

Again a village in Vadodra district witnessed communal clashes on 11th February when two cyclists belonging to different communities fought. Fifteen persons were injured including a leader of VHP. Many houses were also damaged. The police was keeping a vigil to keep control over the situation.

Next we see communal rioting in Nagazmangala town of Mandya district in Karnataka when an idol was taken from the temple and thrown on the road. However, no one knows who was the culprit. After the rouble broke out rioters, Hindus as well as Muslims went on a rampage in the town. It is said properties worth crores of rupees were destroyed. The police lobbed teargas shells and fired five rounds in the air.

Agra witnessed riots on 13th February in Tajganj near Tajmahal when someone from one community teased a girl from another community. Many houses were set afire after this incident and stoning on large scale started. The police maintained that since police inspector of Tajganj police station had gone out the rioting took such fierce form. He said there was incidence of firing also between two communities. Many illegal arms were found in the area.

Next it was Sanbhalnagar of Moradabad that communal violence erupted on the occasion of Moharram on 19th February. These are communally highly sensitive areas. Rioters resorted to firing in Sanbhalgarh. The police arrested 100 persons from both the communities.

On the same day Lucknow witnessed rioting between Shias and Sunnis in which 3 persons lost their lives and 40 were injured in the old city. Government announced compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs for every person died. 10 shops were looted. The trouble started with Muslims of one sect threw stones on Tazia procession of another sect. Many shops were set on fire. The Shia and Sunni leaders have appealed for peace. Later on 22nd February Banaras also saw sectarian violence between Shias and Sunnis in which 24 persons were injured and when dispute started on Tazia procession due to falling of tree on the way. The curfew was imposed which continued even on the third day of incidents.

Dhar in M.P. also witnessed communal disturbances on 22nd February after an explosion and curfew was clamped. Curfew was clamped after stone throwing and setting fire to properties. Ten persons were injured including policemen. An auto rickshaw was set on fire near the bus stand.

Bhilwada, thanks to activities of Bajrang Dal and VHP, has become extremely sensitive town. On 13th March town became very tense after murder of a Bajrang Dal man. For three days curfew remained in force. In Naseerabad in Ajmer District experienced communal tension when a religious leader was injured in Chaprasi Mohallah.

In Mandal, in Bhilwada district more violence erupted on 8th April when some miscreants hoisted saffron flag on a mosque. Muslims were agitated and they filed FIR and the police promised to act against the culprits. Muslims then took out a silent procession and submitted a memorandum. Then in the evening a procession of Charbhujanath was taken out and it stopped near Lakhara chowk and lot of gulal (a coloured powder) was thrown around and at that time some stones were thrown by unknown people. No one knows who threw stones. All those who live around this chowk are Hindus and stones mainly came from the roofs of Hindu houses. It could be the conspiracy of those who were involved in hoisting saffron flag on mosque in the morning.

Immediately after this situation went out of control and 11 Muslim shops and two houses were burnt to ashes and two mazars (mausoleums) were uprooted and Madina Masjid was damaged and one motor cycle was set on fire. Then curfew was imposed at 7-30 p.m. but before it a person called Kanhaiyya Das, who was among the rioters was killed in police firing. The miscreants put his dead body outside a temple and spread rumor that some Muslims entered the temple and killed him.

The police who knew better registered an FIR under pressure from BJP, VHP and even some Congress politicians and it arrested 25 Muslims and beat them up mercilessly. In search operation for illicit arms in Muslim houses many women were also beaten up. Thus Muslims had to suffer financially and physically. In Mandal there were cordial relations between Hindus and Muslims but BJP-VHP combine do not like Hindu-Muslim unity.

Then in Kareda Tehsil suddenly one found flags on Hindu temples with 786 Muslim sacred symbol) inscribed on them and some animal bones. One can well understand who must have done it. Kareda markets remained closed for 72 hours. The Sangh Parivar fixed the responsibility of this on a sufi saint of Kareda Sailani Baba and described his centre as centre of Pak agents and smugglers and demanded his removal from there and threatened that if administration did not act then it will be converted into Gujarat. Communal tension continued there for many days.

Sailani Baba who has Hindu and Muslim disciples was subjected to thorough search but nothing incriminating was found there. And one who had desecrated the temples was nothing but a Shiv Sena activist Ramratan Jhanvar. The whole conspiracy was exposed and Hindus were stunned by such blatant act.

Holi is another occasion when communal skirmishes invariably take place in some communally sensitive areas. Three persons were killed and several others injured. In Balrampur U.P. people in Subhashnagar and Gandhinagar clashed and set fire to several shops. When the procession was passing through a religious place stoning began and clashes started. The police imposed curfew. Police has filed FIR against 52 persons and have arrested 35 so far.

In Rajasthan curfew had to be imposed in Sojat town in the Pali district on 27th March following clashes between two communities during a dance procession on the occasion of Holi. A dozen persons were injured in the clash. According to the police sources, the incident occurred on Saturday evening as a traditional Holi dance procession passed through a Muslim locality and suddenly both side started pelting stones at each other. Angry processionists went on rampage and shops in the area were set on fire. Seventeen persons were injured and 20 shops were set ablaze.

On 27th March Faizabad in U.P. too experienced communal disturbances when members of two communities clashed on the question of throwing colour by Holi revellers. Members of both communities fired on each other. Four persons were injured seriously and 12 shops were set ablaze. It is reported that during Holi revelries about 6 persons died in different parts of U.P. and 50 persons injured. Police said that in Ferozpur one person was shot dead and one died of fire burns. In Fatehgarh, Farrukhabad one person was shot dead.

On 31st March on the occasion of Rangpanchmi communal disturbances broke out in Sarangpur in Rajgadh district in Rajasthan. In these disturbances several people were injured in stone throwing and police has arrested 50 persons in this connection.

Bhilwara, Rajasthan, which has emerged as most sensitive town again witnessed communal clashes on 8th April when communal rioting took place in Mandal town of Bhilwada district. Muslims from villages in the district began to flee for safety. Trouble began when a saffron flag was hoisted on a mosque in Mandal on 8th April and violence broke out when a religious procession was in progress. In Karjalia village of Bhilwada district Muslims faced total boycott and they began to migrate from there when a RSS activist was murdered on March 1. Hindu activists fanned out in the area and called for a social boycott of Muslims. Some 19 families from the village migrated to other places. No one talks to Muslims and if someone does he has to pay a fine of Rs. 11,000. No Hindu shop sells them anything. Bhilwara has become Gujarat within Rajastan.

In these disturbances 10 persons were injured, 6 shops were set afire and three religious places were burnt down. Kanahiyalal Beragi was killed in police firing but police is trying to shift blame on someone else saying he was killed in firing from unlicensed weapon. Beragi’s family maintains that he was killed in police firing and unless police officer is arrested they will not perform last rites of Beragi.

On 19th April people of to communities clashed in Morshi Taluka of Amravati district in Maharashra in which one person was killed and two were injured. This was result of fight between two youths of two communities on a shop. According to collector of Amravati district many shops were set ablaze and looted. Two Autorickshaws and two motor cycles were also burnt down.

On 7th May a Hindu a 50-60 strong mob presumably belonging to Sangh Parivar attacked with lathis on Muslims who had gathered in Kamba in Bhivandi gathered there to pray at Jannatshahwale Baba’s mausoleum. Most of the Muslims were injured. They also upturned a rickshaw and beat up two motorcyclists. They claimed it is Samadhi of Nonathbaba and not Jannatshah Baba’s mausoleum. The dargah has 100 acre property and Sangh Parivar wants to grab the land.

Next Surat came under spell of communal violence on 16th May. Disturbances started after a minor collision between a Muslim Scooterist and a Hindu Kahar Autorickshawwala. Nadeem alias Kaliyo, the Scooterist was injured and shifted to civil hospital and his people came demanding compensation from Autorickshaw owner. An argument began and stoning and acid bulbs were thrown along with soda water bottles. Several people were injured. 27 persons were arrested in this connection. The mob also set fire to one rickshaw and two cycles. Rumours that Dhansukh Kahar was kidnapped and killed began doing rounds until he was found sleeping near the Tapti bank.

Dhar in M.P., another communally sensitive town came under bout of communal violence after some dispute between persons of two communities in which two persons died and 11 were injured. One Raju Bherivi was killed in these skirmishes. Then a Hindu mob armed with swords and other weapons went and killed one Muslim named Allah Noor. It was result of fight between children of two families, which assumed such grave proportions. Curfew had to be imposed on the town.

Badoda (Vadodra) witnessed another bout of communal violence in Mughalwada and this happened, according to the police, due to gamblers. It is gamblers who were interested in provoking violence to earn money. One gambler has been arrested in this connection. Police had to do lathicharge, had to throw teargas shells and open 8 rounds of fire in the air. In this firing one person i.e. Mohammad Saeed was killed. According to the police apart from gamblers, some politicians and media people also might have been involved.

Major Riot in Mau (U.P.)

Mau, in U.P., again a highly sensitive town and went up in flame in October on the occasion of Dasehra. Mau has significant population of Muslim weavers. It is primarily a weavers’ town. Unofficial figures of casualties after proper investigation stand at 14 dead in all and properties worth crores of rupees were reduced to ashes. Many shops were looted. Hospitals, schools and other properties belonging to minority community were totally destroyed.

The dispute started on the question of loudspeaker. Taravih prayers were going on in the mosque nearby due to month of Ramzan and in nearby Dasehra maidan loudspeaker was being used for songs. Some Muslims requested to stop it and Hindus, including one BJP leader agreed to it. But next day some activists of Hindu Yuva Vahini led by Yogi Aditya Nath objected and started playing loudspeaker again and some Muslim youth snatched the equipment. A Hindu Yuva Vahini leader fired and several Muslims were injured. This incited some Muslims to attack Hindus and loot their shops.

But next day the Hindu miscreants took over and killed, looted and set fore to Muslim properties and police looked on. A high police officer from Lucknow told me that it appears that Mulayam Singh government deliberately allowed this mayhem and pillage to balance what happened to Hindus on the first day to ward off BJP criticism. However, whatever the truth fact remains that Muslims suffered great loss of properties although casualties seem to be equal in both the communities.

The role of the media, particularly Hindi media, as usual, was far from satisfactory. It published inflammatory headlines about massacre of Hindus. One T.V. Channel also seems to have doctored a video about the independent M.L.A. Mukhtar Ansari as if he was provoking riots in presence of police bodyguards. The video clip showed only his gestures but there was no sound. All this shows media remains a part of the problem rather than part of solution. Unfortunately administration never takes any action against the media for spreading rumours and hatred.

While disturbances were going on in Mau, Agra once again witnessed communal skirmishes on 23rd October as a result of a small incident in which one woman was accused of theft in a cloth shop and the servant of the shop searched her bag under suspicion. This small incident led to communal clashes when other shopkeepers also joined in. Many anti-social elements suddenly appeared with firearms and began looting shops. Hundreds of people went up on their roofs and began stoning from there. This area around Jami Masjid in Agra is communally very sensitive.

On 20th December communal clashes took place between Hindus and Muslims in Vasundari village under Titwala police station. The clashes started on the question of digging earth. While some Muslims were digging earth, some Hindus attacked them with lathis, iron rods and pickaxes. Seven persons were injured. The injured were admitted to Sion Hospital, Mumbai. One Rohidas Pandurang Jadhav succumbed to his injuries and this led to further tension in the village. On hearing of Jadhav’s death many Muslim women fled from the village as many Muslim men had already been arrested. There was ongoing dispute between Zamir Nazir Pawle and Ganesh Haribhav Jadhav about digging the earth for brick kiln. His brick kiln was also destroyed.

Thus it will be seen that except for Mau riots in October 2005 all other riots were minor and result of small incidents here and there. Such violence is also result of constant hate propaganda by communal forces and regrettably governments of various states do not take any action against hate propaganda. And this propaganda helps communalists for planning major communal violence whenever needed as in Mau this year. It is only vigilance by the people and committed members of civil society that major clashes can be prevented.

The author is director, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai. He may be contacted at csss@mtnl.net.in

July 3, 2008

1993 riots case: Key witness identifies Sena leader Sarpotdar

Posted in Riots tagged , , , , , at 4:51 am by zarb

 

1993 riots case: Key witness identifies Sena leader Sarpotdar

A prime witness in the 1993 riots case against Shiv Sena leader Madhukar Sarpotdar on Friday was the first among six persons to identify him before a special court. Police Inspector (PI) Madhav Khanolkar, told the court that he was on duty on December 27, 1992, when a mob of people from the Ganesh Utsav Samiti Mandal gathered near the Ganesh temple in suburban Kherwadi area of Mumbai. He said Sarpotdar, one K P Naik and Ramesh Pawar from Sena were present with the trustees of the Mandal. The trio had been charged with giving inflammatory speeches after taking a procession in the area.

Khanolkar, now retired, was a police inspector at the Nirmal Nagar police when the case against Sarpotdar was registered. “I cannot tell the exact words of their speech but these speeches were regarding the demolition of the Babri Masjid and that the government was taking sides with Muslims and harassing the Hindus,” said Khanolkar.

He said some of the slogans on the placards carried by the mob stated “Mandir Wahin Banega (the temple will be built there only)”, “Is desh main rehna hain toh Vandemaataram kehna hoga (if they want to stay in this country they have to say ‘I owe to you mother’)”. “The speeches were instigating and inflammatory to the two religions,” he added.

Defence lawyer J P Bagoria, however, cross-examined him asking if Khanolkar was aware that an application was made seeking permission for the processions, which the latter was not aware of. Bagoria presented copies of the application before the court stating that the procession was religious in nature. Khanolkar denied it saying the procession was for political intent under the garb of religion and it violated the orders of the Commissioner of Police restricting assembly of more than five persons for security reasons.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/3107409.cms

June 2, 2008

Communal riots in 2006 – A review

Posted in Riots tagged , , , , , at 5:11 pm by zarb

Communal riots in 2006 – A review

— By Asghar Ali Engineer

This is as usual our annual survey of communal riots and events during 2006. This was comparatively a year with few riots. In fact post-Gujarat India has witnessed fewer riots. Gujarat was indeed another watershed like the one after post-Babri riots. It has been witnessed that after some major riot, subsequent years witness smaller and fewer riots. Mumbai riots after demolition of Babri Masjid by Sangh Parivar fanatics were also very intense and widespread in 1992-93 in which more than one thousand persons perished. After Mumbai riots there was no major riot with the exception of Coimbatore riots (in which 40 persons were killed) until Gujarat happened.

Gujarat was really earthshaking both in its intensity and in its brutality and direct involvement of state machinery. In fact nothing like Gujarat had happened in post-independence period. Gujarat happened in 2002 and since Gujarat no major riot like it has happened. Such major riots perhaps make even communal forces make so nervous by exposure of media that it takes quite sometime for them to gather courage for next major communal riot. Also, after riots like the ones in Gujarat, 2002, it becomes difficult for communal forces to get people’s support for another one for quite some time. It is also important to note that the next major riot does not usually occur at the same place. For example, after Mumbai riot of 1992-93 next major riot took place in Gujarat, not in Mumbai. Similarly earlier during eighties many major riots took place but subsequent riot never occurred at the same place.

So after Gujarat there has been no major riot so far. During 2006 several small riots took place in different places. The first riot occurred at Baroda on 17th January. Two groups of Hindus and Muslims clashed on some petty matter in which two persons were injured. The police and Rapid Action Force came into action and prevented further trouble. Three persons were arrested.

On 3rd February there were clashes between those going for Friday prayers in Kamalmaula Masjid and Bhojshala temple for worship in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh. The Hindu Jagran Manch, a Sangh Parivar unit has been claiming that Kamalmaula Masjid is a Hindu temple and Dhar has become communally highly sensitive place and clashes occur here frequently. More than 300 Muslims were prevented from entering the mosque to pray and police had to resort to lathicharge and fire teargas shells and impose curfew. Muslims had to pray in a temporary structure outside. Later on curfew was relaxed and Hindus were allowed to perform puja.

Very surprisingly clashes between Muslims and Buddhists occurred in Leh in J&K on 10th February. The mob set ablaze a house at Horay Gonpa in protest against the alleged desecration of Qur’an. 31 persons were arrested in clashes between Muslims and Buddhists. The Qur’an was allegedly kept inside the mosque in Bodh Kharboo in Kargil. Curfew had to be imposed which continued for few days and Army had to stage flag march. Leh, in a sense, is communally sensitive as earlier too clashes had occurred between Muslims and Buddhists.

There were clashes in Muzaffarnagar, U.P. between communities on 17th February during demonstrations against cartoons of the Prophet of Islam. Six persons were injured. The sentiments were inflamed as U.P.’s minister of Haj Haji Muhammad Yaqoob announced reward of 51 crores of rupees for anyone who brings the head of the cartoonist. PAC was posted to control the situation. In Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh also clashes occurred between Muslims and Hindus in which one shop was set on fire and 5 persons were injured on same day i.e. on 11th February in Char Minar and other areas. Hyderabad witnessed similar disturbances again on 24th February when a religious place was desecrated in Karwan locality. The faces of lions installed outside the religious place were found broken. Immediately large number of people collected and began stoning the houses of other community. Police had to resort to lathicharge to disperse the mob.

On 3rd March Lucknow which is not so communally sensitive witnessed communal clashes between Hindus and Muslims in which 4 persons were killed while Muslims were staging demonstrations against Prophet’s cartoons after Friday prayers in Aminabad, Qaiserganj, Latoosh Road when Muslims forced shopkeepers to down their shutters. However, according to Muslim source disturbances started when Khatiks (Hindu slaughterers) stoned Muslims protesting against Prophet’s cartoons. Then firing started from both sides in which 4 persons were killed. Majority of those injured were Muslims. In retaliation Muslims stoned many vehicles and damaged them and set fore to effigies of Bush.

Goa also witnessed communal violence on 4th March when Muslims took out protest march against demolition of a structure used for prayer by the minority community. To save the minority community, police claimed, they were evacuated. The Congress blamed the Hindu fundamentalists for disturbances. The Hindus stoned the Protest march. Then the mob ransacked several establishments and torched vehicles. Police fired in the air when someone attacked inspector Gaad and snatched his revolver. Two persons were injured in the firing. About 100 persons were arrested.

Bangalore saw communal violence on 10th March when dispute started between members of two communities in a Muslim majority area of city on the question of barking of dog. The argument between youths of two communities and 9 persons were injured when stoning started and one person was seriously injured in stabbing. The police brought the situation under control.

On March 26 Baroda witnessed communal violence once again in Fatehpura area. More than 100 persons gathered and stoned in which 6 persons were injured. The dispute between the two communities arose on small matter and soon engulfed the area in violence. Of the injured four were seriously injured and had to be hospitalised.

Aligarh flared up on the eve of Navratri on April 6 and four persons were killed. The two communities indulged in stoning and firing. It was alleged that Muslims removed the decorative lighting of a temple and violence flared up. Then the clash occurred with Muslims in Sabzi Mandi and Daiwali Gali. In fact, some alleged that when a piyao (structure for drinking water) was sought to be used as temple and was decorated with lights on the occasion of Navratri, the dispute started and took violent form. Besides 4 persons who died, 13 were injured of which 6 were in critical condition. Curfew had to be imposed in the area of five police stations.

On April 11, on the occasion of Prophet’s birth day Khandwa was engulfed in communal violence and in Pali in Rajasthan was also affected on this occasion. Twelve persons were injured in stoning in Khandwa. In both the places indefinite curfew was imposed. The police sources in Khandwa said that dispute started when some Muslims removed a Raavi Pandal in Jalebi chowk. In Pali, 10 persons were injured when a procession of Mahavir Jayanti was stoned. Some Muslims objected to procession being taken from Pinjara Mohalla and trouble started.

Thana experienced communal disturbances on 24th April. It is reported that one Muslim was unloading wood from a truck when two Hindu youth objected. However, matter was apparently settled but at night around 10 p.m. some Hindu youth came with swords and attacked Muslim houses. But Bajrang Dal group leader Prakash Ramkumar Yadav claimed that clashes started when he and his father were attacked and injured. But Mahmood Dalvi said he received a phone call from the area and when he reached there Ramprakash Yadav, along with 150 others were attacking Muslim houses. They were saying that we will make this area Gujarat. It was also alleged that when Muslim houses were being attacked the local MLA Eknath Sinde and policemen were silent spectators. Muslims alleged that police was arresting us instead of mischief mongers and attackers. Muslims felt terrorised by Bajrang Dal activists and lack of police support.

On April 25 one person was killed in Bhivandi, a Shiv Sainik, on the question of playing cricket. Four others were injured. It all started with a cricket ball hitting a Hindu woman and Muslim boys refusing to stop playing cricket. They forcibly stopped and slapped the boys. The boys threatened to return and settle score. They, some 30 in all returned with sticks, chains and stumps and attacked Mohan. Mohan later succumbed to his injuries. Police arrested six boys and was looking for 20 others.

Baroda, communally highly inflammable place since early eighties, once again was in flames on May 1st when a three hundred year old dargah of Chishti Rashiduddin was demolished by Vadodara Municipal Corporation which sparked riots in which 4 persons were killed and more than 12 were injured in police firing. Two of the dead had bullet injuries while other two were stabbed. It was demolished as an ‘illegal structure’. How can a three hundred year old dargah be declared as illegal?

Initially there was argument between residents of the locality but matter worsened when police intervened leading to riots which soon spread in different parts of the city. The police failed to disperse the mob by lathicharge and resorted to firing. Later on one Muslim was burnt alive along with his car and when people phoned control room police allegedly said ‘Go to Pakistan’. According to one estimate in all 6 persons died.

On intervention by Kamaluddin Bawa, it was agreed by Muslims that a portion of Mazar could be sliced of for road widening but when Muslims discovered that VMC plans to demolish entire Mazar they protested. The corporators most of whom were from BJP, also maintained that when they could demolish temples why can’t VMC demolish dargah. But they forgot that temples were unauthorised and of recent origin whereas dargah was three hundred years old and could not be called ‘illegal’. Anyway it resulted in serious communal violence resulting in death of six persons. On 18th May dead bodies of two children were found in decomposed state in the dicky of a car belonging to a VHP leader. How heinous crimes these communal fanatics can commit!

Aligarh witnessed another bout of communal violence on 29th May when a BJP leader was murdered and in retaliation two persons were killed. The police further extended the curfew which was already force since last eruption of violence and clamped it in two more areas. Thus curfew was clamped in all five police station areas. Ahmedabad also experienced communal violence after a scooter rider knocked down person of another community near a place of worship. The police resorted to lathi charge and in all 30 persons were injured both in lathicharge and stoning between persons of two communities.

Next communal violence erupted in Karoli, Rajastan on 16th June when at a tea stall a mentally unstable person put cow dung on Qur’an and wrote objectionable things on it and showed it to people. This caused provocation to Muslims who set fire to two Hindu shops besides damaging some stalls. They then marched to collector’s office and submitted a memorandum demanding action against the offender. Some Hindus set fire to an autorickshaw. There were some incidents of stabbing also.

On 18th June there was incidence of communal violence in Goda village in Pratapgarh district of U.P. Two girls were burnt alive after the murder of a Hindu youth by some unknown persons. As the news of Hindu youth’s murder spread hundreds of people poured in Gonda village with weapons and attacked establishment of a Muslim community in Gonda, Baldu and Subedar villages. Over 100 houses were set ablaze in which two girls were charred to death. These three villages border on Pratapgarh and Raebareli districts. Immediate police reinforcements were rushed and situation was controlled. Some 100 persons were arrested. On fourth September Raesen town in M.P. saw eruption of communal violence. Some persons allegedly threw pieces of beef at Jain temple. Hearing this news Hindus began to gather in large numbers and began stoning shops belonging to Muslims and damaging them. The police tried to disperse mob by firing teargas shells and when crowd did not disperse it fired three rounds in the air. Police reinforcements and rapid Action Force was brought to keep situation under control.

Ganpati festival is another occasion for eruption of communal violence. This year on 7th September Rabori area of Thane, near Mumbai and Usmanabad in Marathwada saw eruption of communal violence. In Rabori Muslims and those in the Ganpati procession clashed and began stoning but the police was quite alert and immediately brought the situation under control within 15 minutes.

However, it was more serious in Usmanabad where those in the Ganpati procession began throwing gulal (red powder) at Muslims in an inebriated state. They threw stones at the mosque and several Muslim shops. They also began to set fire to shops and vehicles and broke open some shops. It went on till late at night. It began from Khwajanagar of Shams chowk and continued right up to Samtanagar, near the place where Ganpati is submerged in water. Police arrested 64 persons from both the communities.

Nanded is another communally sensitive town in Marathwada region of Maharashtra. It witnessed communal violence on 29th September when student organisation Chava took out procession against reservation on religious grounds and passed through a Muslim locality and began stoning a mosque and damaged stalls selling iftar (breaking fast) eatables as it was month of Ramadan. These students having support of Shalinitai, a Maratha leader, were carrying lathis and other sharp weapons. They were shouting slogans against Muslims and attacked Abidin mosque near Bank of Hyderabad and damaged stalls selling fruits for Iftar. The vehicle belonging to Chava was full of stones. They were also carrying and waving swords. The police remained silent spectator and did not take any action against students. This procession was taken out when article 144 was in force. But police Dy.S.P. Abdurrazzaq claimed it lathicharged the processionists and arrested 30 of the Chava Organisation.

Mangalore in South Karnataka is highly sensitive area and BJP has its stronghold here. Since the BJP became part of ruling coalition in Karnataka, the communal situation has deteriorated there. The police is playing partisan role and Sangh Parivar members have become quite bold. Mangalore area has history of communal violence. In 1998 Surathkal riots 8 persons were killed and Muslim properties were widely damaged. This time around 2 persons were killed in Mangalore area between October 4 and 7 but also in between hundreds of minor skirmishes took place between Hindus and Muslims.

The communal polarisation has been created by BJP since 1992 when Babri Masjid was demolished and JP has reaped benefits in elections by winning 11 seats in Assembly elections of 2004 from the region. According to T.A. Jhonson of Indian Express “several flashpoints for communal violence have emerged from the issue of transportation of cows in violation of a state law to eve teasing to inter-religious relationships.” Also, the minorities complain of administration’s bias since the BJP became partner in coalition. Ironically the Mangalore district is under the charge of a BJP minister. The rightwing Hindu youth feel that they can get away with anything. Those in 15-25 year age group are cause of frequent violence against Muslims and over-react on issues like cow transportation as they feel no action will be taken against them.

However, Hamid Khan, member of the Muslim Central Committee said that police acted swiftly after outbreak of violence on October 4 and imposed curfew effectively, otherwise situation would have got out of control. The BJP minister Nagaraj Shetty also gave assurance that action will be taken against the guilty “without politics”. The Janata Dal (Secular) which allied with BJP blamed Bajrang Dal and SIMI for violence.

On the occasion of Diwali on 22nd October communal violence erupted in three districts of U.P. Muzaffarnagar, Blandshahar and Ambedkarnagar. In Khalapar region of Muzaffarnagar a firecracker was ignited and dispute started with this between some Hindus and Muslims and violence erupted in which one person was killed and more than three were injured. There was firing from rooftops, which continued for half an hour resulting death of one person. Mulayamsingh declared compensation of Rs.5 lakhs for family of Pankaj killed in the clashes. Another person, a student of 11th class was murdered in Ambedkarnagar and communal disturbances started in which several people were injured including some police officers. Here many shops and houses were also damaged.

From what has been narrated above it can be seen that several small riots take place on small matters like playing cricket or lighting a cracker or someone being knocked down by a scooterist and so on. Why does it assume communal colour? The obvious reason is that communal forces indulge in communal propaganda and poison the minds of people and this continues throughout the year without any respite. This helps create communal mindset and even personal disputes between Hindus and Muslims then acquire communal colour and becomes cause of communal violence.

Communal propaganda going on unceasingly becomes greatest obstacle in smooth relationship between two major communities of India. Unfortunately the governments even in the Congress ruled states do not contemplate any action against such propaganda though there are laws prohibiting such propaganda creating ill will between communities. Not only this, there is pronounced bias in text books taught in government as well as private schools from primary to secondary levels. These text-books also help create polarisation in our country. Education has thus become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

One more thing which we observe from description of riots above that these incidents sparking communal violence do not assume major proportions only because political parties do not perceive any political benefit in spreading communal violence and police curbs violence by taking effective action. However, if politicians perceive any direct benefit they immediately exploit the incidents to create major communal flare up. Thus it is mainly politicians who are responsible for major communal flare up. The violence will be contained if politicians do not want and it will assume major proportions, if they desire communal violence for electoral politics like in Mumbai in 1992 and Gujarat in 2002.

It is only proper awareness among people and active role of civil society actors which can help contain major mishaps. We need aware and vibrant civil society to contain outbreak of major communal violence. When civil society gets polarised on communal lines as in Gujarat, it becomes very difficult for civil society to intervene

Is their any hope of justice?

Posted in Riots tagged , , , , , , at 4:41 pm by zarb

— By Iqbal A Ansari

The trial of the accused personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) charged with the cold blooded murder of about forty Muslims of Hashimpura, Meerut on 22 May 1987 has taken more than 19 years to haltingly start in the Tees Hazari Court, Delhi on July 15 2006. It is not only a case of proverbial judicial delay, but crookedness of the course of law that deserves critical scrutiny to be able to understand how the system has given rise to a climate of impunity, especially in heinous hate crimes against vulnerable groups, which emboldens the criminals including those in official uniforms and causes frustration among victims, who lose hope in the system.

According to the order of 18 May 2006 by the Court of the Additional Sessions Judge, Delhi, N P Kaushik it is the prosecution’s case based on the inquiry report of the Crime Branch of the CID (CBCID), that curfew was clamped in Mohalla Hashimpura of Meerut city in the name of search for illegal arms and 644 persons (all Muslims) were randomly picked up from their homes and were arrested. Of these 644, forty two (mostly younger ones) were directly taken in a PAC truck to Upper Ganga Canal, Murad Nagar, where some were shot at and the bodies were thrown into the canal and the remaining were taken to Hindon river, where similar operation was done. Though all were taken as dead, a few survived. FIR was lodged on the basis of their statements on 22/23 May 1987.A few days later dead bodies were found floating in the canals — sending shock waves worldwide.

The ghastly incident had stirred the conscience of the nation, as the outrage it caused in the average citizen was more than that felt against terrorist violence, as the killers in this case were those who were supposed to be protectors. Nikhil Chakravarty compared the event with “Nazi pogrom against the Jews, to strike terror and nothing but terror in the whole minority community”. Mr Subramaniam Swamy, who went on fast unto death over the incident, characterized it as a clear case of genocide. Mr Chandra Shekhar made the observation that “the Hashimpura (Meerut) tragedy was the most shocking incident in my political life…”

Nirmal Mukarji observed that “the truth is that Hashimpura and Malliana affected the Muslim psyche as nothing else had since independence, for the community began to see itself as under attack by the state itself. The least that should have been done was to have promptly disbanded this particular unit of the PAC and to have cashiered its officers. But no action was taken. The outcome was that, far from being on the side of the angels, the UP police emerged as the devil itself ”.

In a joint statement, eminent persons including I.K Gujral, Rajindar Sachar, Kuldip Nayar, Subhadra Joshi and Badr-Ud-Din Tyabji demanded that “the government must prosecute all those members of the PAC and police who have disgraced their uniforms. Their misdeeds must be treated at par with treason and tried by special courts”.

The letter that was sent by the team of inquiry led by Justice Rajindar Sachar to the Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, along with the report, was not even acknowledged. Even though the Prime Minister was convinced about the veracity of the case by the testimony of one of the survivors, Zulfiqar Nasir, who was produced before him, and wanted to initiate effective action, he was advised not to do any thing, which could undermine the morale of the armed police, which were, in their view, the main prop of the state’s authority.

When the pressure on the government increased, the Chief Minister B.B Singh instituted an inquiry into the incident by CBCID. By the time the inquiry report was submitted after seven long years in February 1994,the incident had become a forgotten massacre, like a bad dream, by not only the political class but also by all segments of the civil society. People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court in 1987 for investigation of the case and damages to the victims, which was routinely dealt with and disposed of on 12 September 1990,enhancing the rehabilitation – compensation from Rs 20,000/- fixed by UP Government to Rs 40,000/-, though with the provision that “ if any one has applied for claim for compensation for death or bodily injuries, our direction for payment of rehabilitation compensation does not intend to affect such claim and same would be available to be proceeded in accordance with law”

After the submission of the CBCID report, some of the victims of Hashimpura, who were left to fend for themselves, filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court in February 1995 for making the report public, prosecution of all the indicted persons and payment of adequate compensation to the victims. The Supreme Court did not consider it a fit case for admission under Article 32, and directed the petitioners to approach the High Court, in spite of the fact that the drafting history of the Article shows that the provision was made to ensure that in the event of clear violation of any fundamental right a citizen could seek remedy directly from the apex court. It could have easily settled the issue of adequate compensation, which it had kept open in 1990, in the light of its own liberal rulings on the issue. Subsequently Jalaluddin and others of Meerut filed a writ petition in the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on 15 Feburary 1995 with the same prayer.

Though the CBCID had indicted more than sixty PAC and police personnel of all ranks, the Government of UP gave permission for prosecution of only 19 of them, all of lower ranks. What disciplinary departmental action was taken against others has not been made public. On the contrary many of them are enjoying promotion.

How successive governments led by the Congress, SP, BSP and the BJP from 1987 till date seem to be determined to deny adequate compensation to the victims and seem not to be keen on punishment of the guilty, is obvious from the record of the cases at Lucknow and Ghaziabad and subsequently from September 2002 at Tees Hazari, Delhi.

On the issue of compensation, the UP Government’s counter-affidavit says that in compliance with the Supreme Court’s order it had paid Rs 40,000/- and the issue was therefore closed, which is in utter disregard of the clear direction of the Court on the matter. The case is still lying in the High Court at Lucknow in a state of neglect.

Even statutory resolution of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) for enhancement of compensation in October 1999 and firm assurances given by the Chief Secretary of UP in May 2000 to the NCM to review the case, has not yielded any result so far. It must be kept in view that Hashimpura is not a case of police-firing during riots, but a case of custodial terrorist killing, with hate motive by the states’s forces against innocent citizens on the ground of their religious affiliations, worse than Best Bakery and other cases in Gujarat, where in spite of states’ complicity the police did not pick up Muslims from their homes and killed them; nor did it happen in anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984.

II

Though the UP Government filed charge sheet against 19 PAC men in the court of CJM, Ghaziabad on 20 May, 1996 under sections related to murder, attempt to murder, conspiracy and concealment of evidence, how serious it was for successful prosecution is obvious from the fact that in spite of CJM court’s summoning order followed by bailable and non-bailable warrants 23 times between January 1997 and April 2000 the accused PAC men, who were in active service and whose residential and posting addresses were there in the file, were never produced before the court.

I had started appealing to minority and human rights groups since 1995 to intervene in the case or provide necessary assistance to the petitioners, so that “successful conviction of the PAC personnel sends the message that law is still supreme in the country.” However by 1999 I realized that the local petitioners did not have adequate legal resources and no assistance was being made available to them. I personally visited Meerut and Ghaziabad in May 1999 to collect papers related to the case: Subsequently in a meeting convened by the Minorities Council on July 9, 1999 a decision was taken that the Council in cooperation with other organizations willing to lend support, including PUCL, would pursue the cases in the Lucknow High Court, and Ghaziabad CJM’s Court.

I also published an article under the title ‘Forgotten Massacres, on Hashimpura case from 1987 till August 1999’ in the Autumn 1999 issue of the Quarterly IOS Bulletin Human Rights Today that I edit, which made some impact and led to Siddharth Varadarajan taking interest in the case, who published front page story in The Times of India of May 17, 2000 on the bizarre proceedings in the CJM Ghaziabad Court. That was the time when on our representation, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) impressed upon the Union Home Minister and the Government of UP to take early measures for payment of adequate compensation and speedy trial. This pressure from the Minorities Council, the NCM and The Times of India seems to have forced the UP government to realize that it could no longer shield the guilty PAC men. As a consequence of this pressure, 16 of the 19 accused PAC men surrendered in groups in the last week of May 2000 and early June 2000. One accused was absconding, another was reportedly dead. They were refused bail by CJM, Ghaziabad. However they were allowed bail by the District Judge on the ground that there was no direct evidence against them and that being members of the PAC there was no chance of their absconding.

Apparently their practically being absconders from January 1997 to May 2000 did not weigh with the learned court while easily allowing bail to all 16 in groups on June 2, 2000 (Bail Application No. 1353/2000), June 5, 2000 (No. 1412/2000), June 27, 2000 (No 1564/2000) and July 4, 2000 (No. 1620/2000).

The entire sequence of legal proceedings since the submission of CBCID report in February 1994 till date has been rightly summed up by Siddharth Varadarajan of The Times of India in the following words, “Even by the lethargic and Kafkaesque standards of the Indian judicial system, the Hashimpura case is in a class of its own” (TOI, May 17, 2000). From the analysis of the order sheet from May 1996 to June 2000 at CJM court Ghaziabad it was obvious that there was collusion between the prosecution and the accused, which made this writer, who has been helping the victims in the case on behalf of the Minorities Council, apply to the Supreme Court for transfer of the case from UP to Delhi, which it did in September 2002, in the interest of justice. [It needs to be recorded that since May 1999 it was under legal guidance of Justice R S Narula (then President of Minorities Council) and Justice Rajindar Sachar that I was all along pursuing the case with some success. Advocate Sanjay Parekh, a member of this team, helped prepare and file the application for transfer of the case in Dec. 2001, which was argued personally by Justice Rajindar Sachar before learned bench of the Supreme Court, which ordered the transfer of the case. Again it was under the advice of Justice Sachar that I approach Mrs. Vrinda Grover for regular legal assistance in the case at Tees Hazari court, which she has been doing with diligence and dedication.]

However, after transfer in September 2002, not much progress could be made in the case for lack of timely appointment of a team of competent and independent PPs and SPP, who could do justice to the case; part of the reason lying in the lack of clarity about the appointing authority in such transferred cases. As along with the Supreme Court’s order transferring the case from Ghaziabad (U.P) to Delhi, there was no direction on the appointment of SPP, as was done in the Best Bakery case. Initially the Delhi Court as well as the complainants took the view that it was for the Government of Delhi Administration to appoint the PP/ SPP. Later the Additional Sessions Judge, Tees Hazari issued notice to the Government of U.P expressing concern at the delay in appointing the SPP.

Later the long-awaited U.P Government’s appointee was found to be technically unqualified. Subsequently the Government appointed an SPP, but the case continued to be adjourned on various technical grounds, as well as owing to strike by lawyers of the Tees Hazari court, which continued for months. At long last the Additional Sessions Judge Sh. N.P Kaushik passed orders on 18/24 May 2006 for framing of charges against the accused and fixed 15 July 2006 as the date for the evidence of witnesses. On the date, when the survivor eyewitness Zulfiqar Nasir came prepared to give evidence, the SPP Shri. Adhlakha expressed inability to produce before the court the ‘Property of the Case’ including the rifles and some necessary documents required under law. Taking a serious view of such deliberate slowing of the trial, the Hon’ble court issued notice to the Chief Secretary and other concerned officials and summoned the Additional SP (CBCID) Meerut, Ms. Bharti Singh to explain the reason for non-production of the rifles etc and fixed 22 July as the next date of hearing.

On 22 July the sensational disclosure was made that the rifles used in the case, had been redistributed. Admitting this fact Ms. Bharti Singh gave the assurance that she would submit to the Court the information on how and under whose orders the rifles were redistributed. Noting this, the Court recorded the detailed deposition of the first witness Zulfiqar Nasir – who gave graphic description of the ghastly incidents of 22 May—when he was shot at and taken as dead.

How serious is the Government of Uttar Pradesh in effectively pursuing proper prosecution is obvious from the fact that on the next date of hearing of the case i.e. 31st July, Adhlakha was absent, incurring a fine of rupees five thousand against the State Government. On 8 August 2006 the rifles were deposited with the Court and deposition of Zulfiqar Nasir continued. The list of witness being long, it will take quite some time to complete it.

The role of the Samajwadi Party Government led by Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is supposed to be favourably inclined to Muslims, has lately come in for severe criticism in the sections of media, and by political groups, some of which are motivated by calculations in the ongoing electoral game in the State, but it cannot be denied that even Mulayam Singh Yadav and his Muslim supporters including his Muslim ministers can take credit only for sanctioning approval for prosecution of the 19 PAC personnel of the lower rank. They have done just absolutely noting more. Concern for getting justice done in the case has been totally missing, from Rajiv Gandhi – Bir Bahadur Singh to the present incumbents and their predecessors at Lucknow and Delhi.

III

The issues that arise from criminal neglect of the case by successive governments and the apparent apathy of the civil society including human rights groups, need to be raised and discussed in the larger institutional and political perspective of the failure of all the organs of the State to deliver justice to victims and punish the guilty. In his report on 1982 Meerut riots NC Saxena, the then Joint Secretary NCM, had written that “…In many places the PAC behaved like a mob and committed atrocities” and made a significant observation that “the district administration perceived threat to public peace only from Muslims… the order from the senior officers in the district to the police could be summarized in one phrase: ‘Muslims must be taught a lesson’ the PAC and the Police faithfully implemented this policy”. The result was deliberate killing of Muslims trapped in Feroze Building. But all that was done by the secular class, Gandhians and human right groups was to raise the level of rhetoric.

The guilty were allowed to enjoy impunity. Such deliberate targeted killing of Muslims by the PAC started in Aligarh in 1978 and has continued till 5 April 2006 when four Muslim youth were killed by police firing, unwarranted by the situation. It is this climate of impunity which made the senior district officials of Meerut—may be with active or passive connivance of the political executive at Lucknow—decide to teach Muslims a bloodier lesson than was done in 1982.

In the name of ‘operation search’ the most brazen killing against Muslims in Independent India was performed by State’s armed constabulary—the PAC, which was characterized by the Amnesty International in its report on Meerut, 1987, as a Hindu paramilitary force in numerical terms (only about 2% of the PAC being Muslims) as well as in terms of attitudes. Subramaniam Swamy undertook fast unto death against the crime of genocide in Hashimpura,

which the honourable politician broke when a team led by Justice V.M Tarkunde offered him a glass of juice—with the implied assurance that the issue of genocide that he had raised will be addressed. Was any step taken in that direction? It is lack of accountability of the district administration and police/ paramilitary forces and their political mentors for such crimes against humanity that made them play blatantly partisan role during most situations of communal conflicts during decades of 1980s and 1990s, which led to Gujarat 2002. In the Bill 2005 on communal violence there is continuing glaring absence of any such provision for accountability of those who wield power.

Even in the absence of any law on the crime of genocide, in the light of existing Constitutional-legal provisions, the Government of BB Singh should have been dismissed and under President’s rule, there should have been disbanding of the specific unit of the PAC and all concerned District officials and the Police-PAC personnel of all ranks should have been tried under a special Tribunal constituted for the purpose.

The most distressing aspect of the case is the lack of provision of adequate compensation for loss of life and limb caused by the State’s agents—State’s liability to pay such compensation is settled in India. However, till date no law on rights of victims has been enacted, in spite of the NCM’s persistent demand since 1980 and recommendations of several bodies, including Justice Malimath Committee.

The apex court has not covered itself with glory by routinely disposing of in 1990 the case on Hashimpura filed by PUDR in 1987 and again by missing the opportunity of playing a proactive role when a writ was filed by the aggrieved Jalaluddin and others in 1995. Why did the sections of political class and civil society, including human rights groups allow such delay and denial of justice in the case?

It requires some introspection and action now with clarity and vigour, including a concerted non-partisan demand for NHRC-NCM approaching the Supreme Court for direction for appointment of amicus curiae and guidelines for appointment of PP-SPP, and most urgently for payment jointly by the Central Government and the State Government of adequate compensation of at least rupees five lakhs plus interest—as it was not a case of killing by police firing in the street during riots. But a case of cold-blooded murder with hate communal motive by State forces.

Hashimpura massacre trial after 19 years– Failure of all organs of state

Posted in Riots tagged , , , , at 4:27 pm by zarb

— By Iqbal A Ansari

The trial of the accused personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) charged with the cold blooded murder of about forty Muslims of Hashimpura, Meerut on 22 May 1987 has taken more than 19 years to haltingly start in the Tees Hazari Court, Delhi on July 15 2006. It is not only a case of proverbial judicial delay, but crookedness of the course of law that deserves critical scrutiny to be able to understand how the system has given rise to a climate of impunity, especially in heinous hate crimes against vulnerable groups, which emboldens the criminals including those in official uniforms and causes frustration among victims, who lose hope in the system.

According to the order of 18 May 2006 by the Court of the Additional Sessions Judge, Delhi, N P Kaushik it is the prosecution’s case based on the inquiry report of the Crime Branch of the CID (CBCID), that curfew was clamped in Mohalla Hashimpura of Meerut city in the name of search for illegal arms and 644 persons (all Muslims) were randomly picked up from their homes and were arrested. Of these 644, forty two (mostly younger ones) were directly taken in a PAC truck to Upper Ganga Canal, Murad Nagar, where some were shot at and the bodies were thrown into the canal and the remaining were taken to Hindon river, where similar operation was done. Though all were taken as dead, a few survived. FIR was lodged on the basis of their statements on 22/23 May 1987.A few days later dead bodies were found floating in the canals — sending shock waves worldwide.

The ghastly incident had stirred the conscience of the nation, as the outrage it caused in the average citizen was more than that felt against terrorist violence, as the killers in this case were those who were supposed to be protectors. Nikhil Chakravarty compared the event with “Nazi pogrom against the Jews, to strike terror and nothing but terror in the whole minority community”. Mr Subramaniam Swamy, who went on fast unto death over the incident, characterized it as a clear case of genocide. Mr Chandra Shekhar made the observation that “the Hashimpura (Meerut) tragedy was the most shocking incident in my political life…”

Nirmal Mukarji observed that “the truth is that Hashimpura and Malliana affected the Muslim psyche as nothing else had since independence, for the community began to see itself as under attack by the state itself. The least that should have been done was to have promptly disbanded this particular unit of the PAC and to have cashiered its officers. But no action was taken. The outcome was that, far from being on the side of the angels, the UP police emerged as the devil itself ”.

In a joint statement, eminent persons including I.K Gujral, Rajindar Sachar, Kuldip Nayar, Subhadra Joshi and Badr-Ud-Din Tyabji demanded that “the government must prosecute all those members of the PAC and police who have disgraced their uniforms. Their misdeeds must be treated at par with treason and tried by special courts”.

The letter that was sent by the team of inquiry led by Justice Rajindar Sachar to the Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, along with the report, was not even acknowledged. Even though the Prime Minister was convinced about the veracity of the case by the testimony of one of the survivors, Zulfiqar Nasir, who was produced before him, and wanted to initiate effective action, he was advised not to do any thing, which could undermine the morale of the armed police, which were, in their view, the main prop of the state’s authority.

When the pressure on the government increased, the Chief Minister B.B Singh instituted an inquiry into the incident by CBCID. By the time the inquiry report was submitted after seven long years in February 1994,the incident had become a forgotten massacre, like a bad dream, by not only the political class but also by all segments of the civil society. People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court in 1987 for investigation of the case and damages to the victims, which was routinely dealt with and disposed of on 12 September 1990,enhancing the rehabilitation – compensation from Rs 20,000/- fixed by UP Government to Rs 40,000/-, though with the provision that “ if any one has applied for claim for compensation for death or bodily injuries, our direction for payment of rehabilitation compensation does not intend to affect such claim and same would be available to be proceeded in accordance with law”

After the submission of the CBCID report, some of the victims of Hashimpura, who were left to fend for themselves, filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court in February 1995 for making the report public, prosecution of all the indicted persons and payment of adequate compensation to the victims. The Supreme Court did not consider it a fit case for admission under Article 32, and directed the petitioners to approach the High Court, in spite of the fact that the drafting history of the Article shows that the provision was made to ensure that in the event of clear violation of any fundamental right a citizen could seek remedy directly from the apex court. It could have easily settled the issue of adequate compensation, which it had kept open in 1990, in the light of its own liberal rulings on the issue. Subsequently Jalaluddin and others of Meerut filed a writ petition in the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on 15 Feburary 1995 with the same prayer.

Though the CBCID had indicted more than sixty PAC and police personnel of all ranks, the Government of UP gave permission for prosecution of only 19 of them, all of lower ranks. What disciplinary departmental action was taken against others has not been made public. On the contrary many of them are enjoying promotion.

How successive governments led by the Congress, SP, BSP and the BJP from 1987 till date seem to be determined to deny adequate compensation to the victims and seem not to be keen on punishment of the guilty, is obvious from the record of the cases at Lucknow and Ghaziabad and subsequently from September 2002 at Tees Hazari, Delhi.

On the issue of compensation, the UP Government’s counter-affidavit says that in compliance with the Supreme Court’s order it had paid Rs 40,000/- and the issue was therefore closed, which is in utter disregard of the clear direction of the Court on the matter. The case is still lying in the High Court at Lucknow in a state of neglect.

Even statutory resolution of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) for enhancement of compensation in October 1999 and firm assurances given by the Chief Secretary of UP in May 2000 to the NCM to review the case, has not yielded any result so far. It must be kept in view that Hashimpura is not a case of police-firing during riots, but a case of custodial terrorist killing, with hate motive by the states’s forces against innocent citizens on the ground of their religious affiliations, worse than Best Bakery and other cases in Gujarat, where in spite of states’ complicity the police did not pick up Muslims from their homes and killed them; nor did it happen in anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984.

II

Though the UP Government filed charge sheet against 19 PAC men in the court of CJM, Ghaziabad on 20 May, 1996 under sections related to murder, attempt to murder, conspiracy and concealment of evidence, how serious it was for successful prosecution is obvious from the fact that in spite of CJM court’s summoning order followed by bailable and non-bailable warrants 23 times between January 1997 and April 2000 the accused PAC men, who were in active service and whose residential and posting addresses were there in the file, were never produced before the court.

I had started appealing to minority and human rights groups since 1995 to intervene in the case or provide necessary assistance to the petitioners, so that “successful conviction of the PAC personnel sends the message that law is still supreme in the country.” However by 1999 I realized that the local petitioners did not have adequate legal resources and no assistance was being made available to them. I personally visited Meerut and Ghaziabad in May 1999 to collect papers related to the case: Subsequently in a meeting convened by the Minorities Council on July 9, 1999 a decision was taken that the Council in cooperation with other organizations willing to lend support, including PUCL, would pursue the cases in the Lucknow High Court, and Ghaziabad CJM’s Court.

I also published an article under the title ‘Forgotten Massacres, on Hashimpura case from 1987 till August 1999’ in the Autumn 1999 issue of the Quarterly IOS Bulletin Human Rights Today that I edit, which made some impact and led to Siddharth Varadarajan taking interest in the case, who published front page story in The Times of India of May 17, 2000 on the bizarre proceedings in the CJM Ghaziabad Court. That was the time when on our representation, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) impressed upon the Union Home Minister and the Government of UP to take early measures for payment of adequate compensation and speedy trial. This pressure from the Minorities Council, the NCM and The Times of India seems to have forced the UP government to realize that it could no longer shield the guilty PAC men. As a consequence of this pressure, 16 of the 19 accused PAC men surrendered in groups in the last week of May 2000 and early June 2000. One accused was absconding, another was reportedly dead. They were refused bail by CJM, Ghaziabad. However they were allowed bail by the District Judge on the ground that there was no direct evidence against them and that being members of the PAC there was no chance of their absconding.

Apparently their practically being absconders from January 1997 to May 2000 did not weigh with the learned court while easily allowing bail to all 16 in groups on June 2, 2000 (Bail Application No. 1353/2000), June 5, 2000 (No. 1412/2000), June 27, 2000 (No 1564/2000) and July 4, 2000 (No. 1620/2000).

The entire sequence of legal proceedings since the submission of CBCID report in February 1994 till date has been rightly summed up by Siddharth Varadarajan of The Times of India in the following words, “Even by the lethargic and Kafkaesque standards of the Indian judicial system, the Hashimpura case is in a class of its own” (TOI, May 17, 2000). From the analysis of the order sheet from May 1996 to June 2000 at CJM court Ghaziabad it was obvious that there was collusion between the prosecution and the accused, which made this writer, who has been helping the victims in the case on behalf of the Minorities Council, apply to the Supreme Court for transfer of the case from UP to Delhi, which it did in September 2002, in the interest of justice. [It needs to be recorded that since May 1999 it was under legal guidance of Justice R S Narula (then President of Minorities Council) and Justice Rajindar Sachar that I was all along pursuing the case with some success. Advocate Sanjay Parekh, a member of this team, helped prepare and file the application for transfer of the case in Dec. 2001, which was argued personally by Justice Rajindar Sachar before learned bench of the Supreme Court, which ordered the transfer of the case. Again it was under the advice of Justice Sachar that I approach Mrs. Vrinda Grover for regular legal assistance in the case at Tees Hazari court, which she has been doing with diligence and dedication.]

However, after transfer in September 2002, not much progress could be made in the case for lack of timely appointment of a team of competent and independent PPs and SPP, who could do justice to the case; part of the reason lying in the lack of clarity about the appointing authority in such transferred cases. As along with the Supreme Court’s order transferring the case from Ghaziabad (U.P) to Delhi, there was no direction on the appointment of SPP, as was done in the Best Bakery case. Initially the Delhi Court as well as the complainants took the view that it was for the Government of Delhi Administration to appoint the PP/ SPP. Later the Additional Sessions Judge, Tees Hazari issued notice to the Government of U.P expressing concern at the delay in appointing the SPP.

Later the long-awaited U.P Government’s appointee was found to be technically unqualified. Subsequently the Government appointed an SPP, but the case continued to be adjourned on various technical grounds, as well as owing to strike by lawyers of the Tees Hazari court, which continued for months. At long last the Additional Sessions Judge Sh. N.P Kaushik passed orders on 18/24 May 2006 for framing of charges against the accused and fixed 15 July 2006 as the date for the evidence of witnesses. On the date, when the survivor eyewitness Zulfiqar Nasir came prepared to give evidence, the SPP Shri. Adhlakha expressed inability to produce before the court the ‘Property of the Case’ including the rifles and some necessary documents required under law. Taking a serious view of such deliberate slowing of the trial, the Hon’ble court issued notice to the Chief Secretary and other concerned officials and summoned the Additional SP (CBCID) Meerut, Ms. Bharti Singh to explain the reason for non-production of the rifles etc and fixed 22 July as the next date of hearing.

On 22 July the sensational disclosure was made that the rifles used in the case, had been redistributed. Admitting this fact Ms. Bharti Singh gave the assurance that she would submit to the Court the information on how and under whose orders the rifles were redistributed. Noting this, the Court recorded the detailed deposition of the first witness Zulfiqar Nasir – who gave graphic description of the ghastly incidents of 22 May—when he was shot at and taken as dead.

How serious is the Government of Uttar Pradesh in effectively pursuing proper prosecution is obvious from the fact that on the next date of hearing of the case i.e. 31st July, Adhlakha was absent, incurring a fine of rupees five thousand against the State Government. On 8 August 2006 the rifles were deposited with the Court and deposition of Zulfiqar Nasir continued. The list of witness being long, it will take quite some time to complete it.

The role of the Samajwadi Party Government led by Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is supposed to be favourably inclined to Muslims, has lately come in for severe criticism in the sections of media, and by political groups, some of which are motivated by calculations in the ongoing electoral game in the State, but it cannot be denied that even Mulayam Singh Yadav and his Muslim supporters including his Muslim ministers can take credit only for sanctioning approval for prosecution of the 19 PAC personnel of the lower rank. They have done just absolutely noting more. Concern for getting justice done in the case has been totally missing, from Rajiv Gandhi – Bir Bahadur Singh to the present incumbents and their predecessors at Lucknow and Delhi.

III

The issues that arise from criminal neglect of the case by successive governments and the apparent apathy of the civil society including human rights groups, need to be raised and discussed in the larger institutional and political perspective of the failure of all the organs of the State to deliver justice to victims and punish the guilty. In his report on 1982 Meerut riots NC Saxena, the then Joint Secretary NCM, had written that “…In many places the PAC behaved like a mob and committed atrocities” and made a significant observation that “the district administration perceived threat to public peace only from Muslims… the order from the senior officers in the district to the police could be summarized in one phrase: ‘Muslims must be taught a lesson’ the PAC and the Police faithfully implemented this policy”. The result was deliberate killing of Muslims trapped in Feroze Building. But all that was done by the secular class, Gandhians and human right groups was to raise the level of rhetoric.

The guilty were allowed to enjoy impunity. Such deliberate targeted killing of Muslims by the PAC started in Aligarh in 1978 and has continued till 5 April 2006 when four Muslim youth were killed by police firing, unwarranted by the situation. It is this climate of impunity which made the senior district officials of Meerut—may be with active or passive connivance of the political executive at Lucknow—decide to teach Muslims a bloodier lesson than was done in 1982.

In the name of ‘operation search’ the most brazen killing against Muslims in Independent India was performed by State’s armed constabulary—the PAC, which was characterized by the Amnesty International in its report on Meerut, 1987, as a Hindu paramilitary force in numerical terms (only about 2% of the PAC being Muslims) as well as in terms of attitudes. Subramaniam Swamy undertook fast unto death against the crime of genocide in Hashimpura,

which the honourable politician broke when a team led by Justice V.M Tarkunde offered him a glass of juice—with the implied assurance that the issue of genocide that he had raised will be addressed. Was any step taken in that direction? It is lack of accountability of the district administration and police/ paramilitary forces and their political mentors for such crimes against humanity that made them play blatantly partisan role during most situations of communal conflicts during decades of 1980s and 1990s, which led to Gujarat 2002. In the Bill 2005 on communal violence there is continuing glaring absence of any such provision for accountability of those who wield power.

Even in the absence of any law on the crime of genocide, in the light of existing Constitutional-legal provisions, the Government of BB Singh should have been dismissed and under President’s rule, there should have been disbanding of the specific unit of the PAC and all concerned District officials and the Police-PAC personnel of all ranks should have been tried under a special Tribunal constituted for the purpose.

The most distressing aspect of the case is the lack of provision of adequate compensation for loss of life and limb caused by the State’s agents—State’s liability to pay such compensation is settled in India. However, till date no law on rights of victims has been enacted, in spite of the NCM’s persistent demand since 1980 and recommendations of several bodies, including Justice Malimath Committee.

The apex court has not covered itself with glory by routinely disposing of in 1990 the case on Hashimpura filed by PUDR in 1987 and again by missing the opportunity of playing a proactive role when a writ was filed by the aggrieved Jalaluddin and others in 1995. Why did the sections of political class and civil society, including human rights groups allow such delay and denial of justice in the case?It requires some introspection and action now with clarity and vigour, including a concerted non-partisan demand for NHRC-NCM approaching the Supreme Court for direction for appointment of amicus curiae and guidelines for appointment of PP-SPP, and most urgently for payment jointly by the Central Government and the State Government of adequate compensation of at least rupees five lakhs plus interest—as it was not a case of killing by police firing in the street during riots. But a case of cold-blooded murder with hate communal motive by State forces.