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Those who saw death and destruction, won't be reassured by mere talk

Hindutva forces trying to cause social rupture between communities 

26 Mar 2020

dr zafrul

Hindutva forces are trying to cause social rupture between the two communities says, Delhi Minority Commission Chairman Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan. That the Central Government, being directly responsible for the law and order in Delhi did not step in when needed, has made matters worse. While it is known that  the compensation offered to riot victims is not adequate, even the measly amount is not accessible for many who have lost documents and not been able to file complaints. The assessment of damage is a mammoth task and long term relief planning will have to put in place. With Covid-19 lockdown most of this work has slowed down too. However, things hopefully will get back on track as volunteers and NGOs continue to step forward when the authorities fail to do enough.
 

In an exclusive interview with Sabrang India, he spoke to Karuna John.

 

The Delhi Minority Commission (DMC) has been mapping the damage caused in North-East Delhi. Please share your assessment of the extent of damage .

Delhi Minority Commission (DMC) started the assessment of riot victims and their losses as part of its fact-finding committee’s work. The pressing reason was that we were getting reports that area Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) were rejecting forms, that police were not registering (First Information Reports) FIRs or was clubbing many complaints with one FIR, which meant that some, or many, victims will not get justice and compensation. So we designed elaborate assessment forms and our volunteers are going house-to-house and to camps, to fill the forms at the doorstep of the victims. We are also giving receipts, while SDMs were not giving receipts. We plan to track those victims who do not get compensation and will use our assessment forms to get them their dues. The work has been slowed down at present due to the curfew restrictions as a result of the Corona epidemic. It will pick up speed once the situation becomes normal.
 

What is the extent of damage that still needs to be documented?

It is still not possible to offer any figures, but it is known that some people could not file their compensation forms, some fled to their far-away villages or moved to live with their relatives in other parts of Delhi. We have placed 40 notice boards in the North East district with helpline numbers so that people know how to approach us.
 

DMC


Survivors have lost livelihoods. What attempts are being made to help them re-start work?

The DMC is not mandated to do such kind of work. What we did was to intervene with the Govt. of NCT of Delhi to enhance the compensation announced and to cover more aspects, and this was done by the government within days. Still the compensation in our view is not adequate. The Central Government, being directly responsible for the law and order in Delhi should have stepped in but it has not. Private individuals and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are playing a very good role to fill this gap. Victims are being assisted to stand again on their feet and their houses and shops are being repaired by private and NGO help and we are coordinating and helping such activity.
 

Trust between the two communities has been lost. Muslims no longer feel safe enough to return to their old neighbourhoods. What is the solution to this intense ghettoisation in already crowded areas, which have their own challenges?

We are trying through our Peace Committee members in the area to intervene where possible but this is a Himalayan task since people who have seen their kin murdered, attacked and their houses and shops burnt will not be reassured by mere talk. I think people from the majority community should come forward to rebuild the burnt bridges. This is all the more important since we are getting reports that majority community people in some affected pockets are preventing the return of victims to their homes. It is a matter of sorrow that both the state and Union governments are not taking initiatives in this direction. This is a big challenge not only in the North East district of Delhi but in most parts of the country where Hindutva forces are trying to cause social rupture between the two communities.
 

What are the challenges that survivors now have to deal with when the Covid-19 lockdown has been enforced till mid-April?

Most of the victims belong to the poor class who owned small businesses or were daily wage-earners. For such people, who do not have any assets or savings to fall back on, these next few weeks will be very difficult. They need sustained help during this period. We will try that the current phase of help continues until the end of April at least.
 

What about restrictions faced by relief workers due to the lockdown?

Relief workers and volunteers are still active but on a lower scale since Corona scare works both ways: victims do not want to come in contact with strangers and volunteers are apprehensive of going into congested slums where the possibility of infection is high. Also, problems of restricted movement as a result of strict curfew are restricting movements and work of volunteers. I think the momentum of the work will bounce back once the epidemic scare dies down.
 

Riot survivors have lost ID documents when their homes were gutted. How can they avail any government-aided relief?

This is the reason why compensation forms of some victims have not been accepted. DMC forms and volunteers are not demanding such documents. People can take time and procure copies of documents when things get normal. Where needed, we will not desist from intervention with concerned authorities to force them to issue duplicate copies of lost documents and for fair compensation to be paid to them. 
 

Is the DMC launching any relief work for the lockdown period?

The DMC is not mandated to do relief work on its own. We are working with some NGOs and individuals and helping them to carry out this work. If need be, we will intervene with the government.
 

Has the Commission called for more funds to meet increased needs due to the Covid-91 pandemic?

No. We have not taken any such step.
 

Why is Delhi Police picking up youth from N-East Delhi, have they responded to the Commission’s warning? How many youth are missing from that area?

This is a real problem that police are picking up youth randomly, pressuring them to accept their “guilt” or to implicate others. We have taken notice of this. We have not received any reply so far or maybe some reply has come but could not reach us because our offices like other Govt. offices are totally locked at present. 

As regards the missing persons, we do not know the numbers but it is a fact that some people are still missing. Most probably they were killed and dumped somewhere, like in nallas (sewers). I understand that some bodies are still lying in hospitals because these could not be identified by anyone. Hence the actual number of the violence victims is yet not known in exact terms.

Those who saw death and destruction, won't be reassured by mere talk

Hindutva forces trying to cause social rupture between communities 

dr zafrul

Hindutva forces are trying to cause social rupture between the two communities says, Delhi Minority Commission Chairman Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan. That the Central Government, being directly responsible for the law and order in Delhi did not step in when needed, has made matters worse. While it is known that  the compensation offered to riot victims is not adequate, even the measly amount is not accessible for many who have lost documents and not been able to file complaints. The assessment of damage is a mammoth task and long term relief planning will have to put in place. With Covid-19 lockdown most of this work has slowed down too. However, things hopefully will get back on track as volunteers and NGOs continue to step forward when the authorities fail to do enough.
 

In an exclusive interview with Sabrang India, he spoke to Karuna John.

 

The Delhi Minority Commission (DMC) has been mapping the damage caused in North-East Delhi. Please share your assessment of the extent of damage .

Delhi Minority Commission (DMC) started the assessment of riot victims and their losses as part of its fact-finding committee’s work. The pressing reason was that we were getting reports that area Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) were rejecting forms, that police were not registering (First Information Reports) FIRs or was clubbing many complaints with one FIR, which meant that some, or many, victims will not get justice and compensation. So we designed elaborate assessment forms and our volunteers are going house-to-house and to camps, to fill the forms at the doorstep of the victims. We are also giving receipts, while SDMs were not giving receipts. We plan to track those victims who do not get compensation and will use our assessment forms to get them their dues. The work has been slowed down at present due to the curfew restrictions as a result of the Corona epidemic. It will pick up speed once the situation becomes normal.
 

What is the extent of damage that still needs to be documented?

It is still not possible to offer any figures, but it is known that some people could not file their compensation forms, some fled to their far-away villages or moved to live with their relatives in other parts of Delhi. We have placed 40 notice boards in the North East district with helpline numbers so that people know how to approach us.
 

DMC


Survivors have lost livelihoods. What attempts are being made to help them re-start work?

The DMC is not mandated to do such kind of work. What we did was to intervene with the Govt. of NCT of Delhi to enhance the compensation announced and to cover more aspects, and this was done by the government within days. Still the compensation in our view is not adequate. The Central Government, being directly responsible for the law and order in Delhi should have stepped in but it has not. Private individuals and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are playing a very good role to fill this gap. Victims are being assisted to stand again on their feet and their houses and shops are being repaired by private and NGO help and we are coordinating and helping such activity.
 

Trust between the two communities has been lost. Muslims no longer feel safe enough to return to their old neighbourhoods. What is the solution to this intense ghettoisation in already crowded areas, which have their own challenges?

We are trying through our Peace Committee members in the area to intervene where possible but this is a Himalayan task since people who have seen their kin murdered, attacked and their houses and shops burnt will not be reassured by mere talk. I think people from the majority community should come forward to rebuild the burnt bridges. This is all the more important since we are getting reports that majority community people in some affected pockets are preventing the return of victims to their homes. It is a matter of sorrow that both the state and Union governments are not taking initiatives in this direction. This is a big challenge not only in the North East district of Delhi but in most parts of the country where Hindutva forces are trying to cause social rupture between the two communities.
 

What are the challenges that survivors now have to deal with when the Covid-19 lockdown has been enforced till mid-April?

Most of the victims belong to the poor class who owned small businesses or were daily wage-earners. For such people, who do not have any assets or savings to fall back on, these next few weeks will be very difficult. They need sustained help during this period. We will try that the current phase of help continues until the end of April at least.
 

What about restrictions faced by relief workers due to the lockdown?

Relief workers and volunteers are still active but on a lower scale since Corona scare works both ways: victims do not want to come in contact with strangers and volunteers are apprehensive of going into congested slums where the possibility of infection is high. Also, problems of restricted movement as a result of strict curfew are restricting movements and work of volunteers. I think the momentum of the work will bounce back once the epidemic scare dies down.
 

Riot survivors have lost ID documents when their homes were gutted. How can they avail any government-aided relief?

This is the reason why compensation forms of some victims have not been accepted. DMC forms and volunteers are not demanding such documents. People can take time and procure copies of documents when things get normal. Where needed, we will not desist from intervention with concerned authorities to force them to issue duplicate copies of lost documents and for fair compensation to be paid to them. 
 

Is the DMC launching any relief work for the lockdown period?

The DMC is not mandated to do relief work on its own. We are working with some NGOs and individuals and helping them to carry out this work. If need be, we will intervene with the government.
 

Has the Commission called for more funds to meet increased needs due to the Covid-91 pandemic?

No. We have not taken any such step.
 

Why is Delhi Police picking up youth from N-East Delhi, have they responded to the Commission’s warning? How many youth are missing from that area?

This is a real problem that police are picking up youth randomly, pressuring them to accept their “guilt” or to implicate others. We have taken notice of this. We have not received any reply so far or maybe some reply has come but could not reach us because our offices like other Govt. offices are totally locked at present. 

As regards the missing persons, we do not know the numbers but it is a fact that some people are still missing. Most probably they were killed and dumped somewhere, like in nallas (sewers). I understand that some bodies are still lying in hospitals because these could not be identified by anyone. Hence the actual number of the violence victims is yet not known in exact terms.

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Delhi HC asks govt to expedite DNA testing of Delhi riot victim

The government was unable to present legal provision which requires court orders to conduct DNA test

25 Mar 2020

delhi violence

The High Court has directed the state government to expedite DNA testing of bodies of riot victims without waiting for court orders to that effect. The Court was hearing a petition moved by the parent of child who has been missing since February 25, 2020 when rioting took place in North East Delhi. 

The man has been waiting to have a DNA test confirm whether the charred remains recovered two days later belong to his son. The Court, however, noted that there was no need for the government to wait for the court’s orders to go on with the DNA testing as there was no legal provision or prerequisite to that effect.

DNA samples had already been collected from the family members as well as from the body suspected to belong to the petitioner’s son. The testing was, however, not initiated as the government was waiting for court orders for the same. The petitioner submitted that delay in the DNA testing would make it difficult for his missing person to be traced. Delhi government’s counsel submitted that it is only in the cases of a direction being given by a Court that priority is granted to such cases; but failed to put forth a legal provision to this regard.

The Court then asked the respondents to expedite the process of the DNA testing and provide the report to the petitioner as soon as it is received while also filing an affidavit in court confirming the same. The Court then specifically asked the respondents to take a call on the basis of urgency of each case and not wait for court’s order.
 

The Delhi High Court order can be read here: 

 

Delhi HC asks govt to expedite DNA testing of Delhi riot victim

The government was unable to present legal provision which requires court orders to conduct DNA test

delhi violence

The High Court has directed the state government to expedite DNA testing of bodies of riot victims without waiting for court orders to that effect. The Court was hearing a petition moved by the parent of child who has been missing since February 25, 2020 when rioting took place in North East Delhi. 

The man has been waiting to have a DNA test confirm whether the charred remains recovered two days later belong to his son. The Court, however, noted that there was no need for the government to wait for the court’s orders to go on with the DNA testing as there was no legal provision or prerequisite to that effect.

DNA samples had already been collected from the family members as well as from the body suspected to belong to the petitioner’s son. The testing was, however, not initiated as the government was waiting for court orders for the same. The petitioner submitted that delay in the DNA testing would make it difficult for his missing person to be traced. Delhi government’s counsel submitted that it is only in the cases of a direction being given by a Court that priority is granted to such cases; but failed to put forth a legal provision to this regard.

The Court then asked the respondents to expedite the process of the DNA testing and provide the report to the petitioner as soon as it is received while also filing an affidavit in court confirming the same. The Court then specifically asked the respondents to take a call on the basis of urgency of each case and not wait for court’s order.
 

The Delhi High Court order can be read here: 

 

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Delhi Pogrom victims need your help more than ever

A group of volunteers has been raising funds for families displaced during the Delhi Pogrom. With less than ideal provisions of relief camps and the imminent threat of COVID-19, these families need your help now!

25 Mar 2020

delhi

10 month old Baby Maryam’s story was shared by many, as the youngest victim of violence in Delhi Pogrom. She was beaten with sticks and hurled on the road. He collar bone was broken. Her father Sarfaraz’s car was burnt.  Dushyant A  put out a Call For Action to raise funds for Maryam’s family, and the fundraising then snowballed as other volunteers and media picked it up. Barkha Dutt also covered the story and put out the call for fundraising.

These fundraising efforts started by Dushyant A during, and in the aftermath of the Delhi Pogrom which took place between February 24 and 27, 2020, were swiftly joined by multiple people who stepped forward to help. Citizen volunteers like Nupur Singh RiatSwati D’souzaMinu Jain and on ground co-ordinator Doctor Muheet Saifi, started raising awareness about more families that were affected and urging people to donate via their posts on Twitter. This core team is supported by 10 volunteers who undertake in-person field visits, interact with the victimized families, raise funds, and handle the administrative tasks involved.

The volunteers liaise with and obtain leads from journalists and legal teams who are on ground with the victims and citizen volunteers engaged in relief efforts. Some victims who receive help may also share stories of other families in need and these are then included in the relief efforts once a due process of verification is followed. Once the volunteers asses the scale of losses suffered and verify bank details, the calls to action are shared on social media. Since the donations are deposited directly in the victim’s bank accounts, there is no middle man and the process is quicker.

The quick and accessible aid is evident in the story of Salman and Wasim. Volunteer Hasiba Amin shared their story in a Tweet on March 10, 2020.
 


Within 3 days, the volunteers raised enough funds and supplies to start rebuilding and re-stocking the store. This story also highlights the intent behind this fundraising effort. People lost their livelihoods. They are not looking for money, they are looking for means to get back to work and start earning their bread like they used to.

Ibran, for example, worked as a field blood collector for a Pathology Lab. He relied on his bike to reach people’s homes to provide this medical service. A mob destroyed his bike and he could no longer continue his work. When his story was shared, people came forward with offers of not just funds, but even donating their own vehicles to him.

 

 

Again, within 3 days, he had received enough funds and could resume work immediately. Every day that someone cannot earn for their family, can be very hard not just financially but emotionally as well. All people are looking for, are the means to restore their homes and livelihoods, and resume their lives with dignity.

As of March 17, 2020, the informal core team with its numerous volunteers, has raised about 1.42 crore for more than 80 families, with the funds being deposited directly into the bank accounts of the victims. This is no small feat, and yet, there is a long way to go.

With the looming threat of COVID-19, it has become even more critical that families be able to survive and live in hygienic conditions, and provide their members with enough food as trade and economic activities slowly shut down. These families have borne the brunt of a communal Pogrom and now they face a bigger threat of poverty and vulnerability to disease. Even after being victimized by communal hatred, they still hope to see the good in people, and need continued efforts on our parts to support them. One of the people who received donations, Shahzad, put it poignantly, “I, Shahzad Zaidi, on behalf of my family, from the bottom of my heart, thank those who are helping us through this difficult time. I promise that once I stand on my feet again, I will also extend help to others in the same way. I am witnessing people from every religion extending their help to me even when they don’t know me in person. I salute their humanity. May God keep you safe from all evil.”

The volunteers are still looking for donations and help to rehabilitate more families. The verified fundraisers can be found on any of the following Twitter handles:

Dushyant A - https://twitter.com/atti_cus

Nupur Singh Riat - https://twitter.com/thoumayestnow

Swati D’souza - https://twitter.com/Sw0oti

Minu Jain - https://twitter.com/minu_jain

Doctor Muheet Saifi - https://twitter.com/saifizoology

In these difficult times, if you are able to, please donate or reach out to the affected families in Delhi. If you cannot help monetarily, please amplify the volunteer efforts and help them increase their reach by spreading the word. Shahzad has faith in humanity. Let us strive to keep this faith alive.

 

Related articles:

  1. Delhi violence: Mapping the damage
  2. Lives of the 'haves' and 'have-nots' in the times of Corona
  3. States announce relief measures; Centre still mum on economic aid for Covid-19
  4. Burqas, Bindis, and Bangles: The Femme Revolution of India

 

Delhi Pogrom victims need your help more than ever

A group of volunteers has been raising funds for families displaced during the Delhi Pogrom. With less than ideal provisions of relief camps and the imminent threat of COVID-19, these families need your help now!

delhi

10 month old Baby Maryam’s story was shared by many, as the youngest victim of violence in Delhi Pogrom. She was beaten with sticks and hurled on the road. He collar bone was broken. Her father Sarfaraz’s car was burnt.  Dushyant A  put out a Call For Action to raise funds for Maryam’s family, and the fundraising then snowballed as other volunteers and media picked it up. Barkha Dutt also covered the story and put out the call for fundraising.

These fundraising efforts started by Dushyant A during, and in the aftermath of the Delhi Pogrom which took place between February 24 and 27, 2020, were swiftly joined by multiple people who stepped forward to help. Citizen volunteers like Nupur Singh RiatSwati D’souzaMinu Jain and on ground co-ordinator Doctor Muheet Saifi, started raising awareness about more families that were affected and urging people to donate via their posts on Twitter. This core team is supported by 10 volunteers who undertake in-person field visits, interact with the victimized families, raise funds, and handle the administrative tasks involved.

The volunteers liaise with and obtain leads from journalists and legal teams who are on ground with the victims and citizen volunteers engaged in relief efforts. Some victims who receive help may also share stories of other families in need and these are then included in the relief efforts once a due process of verification is followed. Once the volunteers asses the scale of losses suffered and verify bank details, the calls to action are shared on social media. Since the donations are deposited directly in the victim’s bank accounts, there is no middle man and the process is quicker.

The quick and accessible aid is evident in the story of Salman and Wasim. Volunteer Hasiba Amin shared their story in a Tweet on March 10, 2020.
 


Within 3 days, the volunteers raised enough funds and supplies to start rebuilding and re-stocking the store. This story also highlights the intent behind this fundraising effort. People lost their livelihoods. They are not looking for money, they are looking for means to get back to work and start earning their bread like they used to.

Ibran, for example, worked as a field blood collector for a Pathology Lab. He relied on his bike to reach people’s homes to provide this medical service. A mob destroyed his bike and he could no longer continue his work. When his story was shared, people came forward with offers of not just funds, but even donating their own vehicles to him.

 

 

Again, within 3 days, he had received enough funds and could resume work immediately. Every day that someone cannot earn for their family, can be very hard not just financially but emotionally as well. All people are looking for, are the means to restore their homes and livelihoods, and resume their lives with dignity.

As of March 17, 2020, the informal core team with its numerous volunteers, has raised about 1.42 crore for more than 80 families, with the funds being deposited directly into the bank accounts of the victims. This is no small feat, and yet, there is a long way to go.

With the looming threat of COVID-19, it has become even more critical that families be able to survive and live in hygienic conditions, and provide their members with enough food as trade and economic activities slowly shut down. These families have borne the brunt of a communal Pogrom and now they face a bigger threat of poverty and vulnerability to disease. Even after being victimized by communal hatred, they still hope to see the good in people, and need continued efforts on our parts to support them. One of the people who received donations, Shahzad, put it poignantly, “I, Shahzad Zaidi, on behalf of my family, from the bottom of my heart, thank those who are helping us through this difficult time. I promise that once I stand on my feet again, I will also extend help to others in the same way. I am witnessing people from every religion extending their help to me even when they don’t know me in person. I salute their humanity. May God keep you safe from all evil.”

The volunteers are still looking for donations and help to rehabilitate more families. The verified fundraisers can be found on any of the following Twitter handles:

Dushyant A - https://twitter.com/atti_cus

Nupur Singh Riat - https://twitter.com/thoumayestnow

Swati D’souza - https://twitter.com/Sw0oti

Minu Jain - https://twitter.com/minu_jain

Doctor Muheet Saifi - https://twitter.com/saifizoology

In these difficult times, if you are able to, please donate or reach out to the affected families in Delhi. If you cannot help monetarily, please amplify the volunteer efforts and help them increase their reach by spreading the word. Shahzad has faith in humanity. Let us strive to keep this faith alive.

 

Related articles:

  1. Delhi violence: Mapping the damage
  2. Lives of the 'haves' and 'have-nots' in the times of Corona
  3. States announce relief measures; Centre still mum on economic aid for Covid-19
  4. Burqas, Bindis, and Bangles: The Femme Revolution of India

 

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Delhi violence: Mapping the damage

Delhi Minority Commission fact-finding committee maps NE Delhi, seeks answers from Delhi Police 

23 Mar 2020

delhi violenceImage Courtesy: Hindustan Times

The Delhi Minority Commission (DMC) has been intensely mapping the damage caused by the pogrom that was unleashed in the Muslim dominated areas of North-East Delhi in February, 2020. A 10-member fact-finding committee chaired by M.R. Shamshad, Advocate-on-Record, Supreme Court of India, has started its work in the area, assisted by 30 volunteers. They are surveying the riot affected areas to verify and record the actual damage, using a detailed assessment form. The data collected will show the actual figures of the number of dead, injured, and damage to properties. This data is being collected by volunteers who are going  door-to-door visiting the victims’ houses, shops and relief camps. 

The DMC has also placed notices in the violence-affected areas to let people know that the fact-finding committee has been formed. The committee helpline numbers are: 8076282502, 9540060606, 9717455303. 

Each responded is given a receipt after they fill the assessment form. The DMC will also monitor cases where the victims are being denied due compensation or whose FIRs have not been registered by Delhi Police. The DMC fact-finding committee is in regular contact with the victims, the police as well as the local administration and have also set up a help desk at Mustafabad Eidgah. A large number of survivors had taken shelter here and the local administration had placed bands on their wrists as an identification. Many of these victims had been complaining of inadequate relief material, and said they were facing difficulties in registering FIRs. Lawyers volunteering with the  DMC team are helping the victims file the official paperwork needed to access compensation and seek justice. The DMC has also asked  North East Delhi District Magistrate to provide the list of all compensation forms filed by victims to the SDMs. 

Apart from the fact-finding committee, senior DMC officials including chairman Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan, members Kartar Singh Kochhar and Anastasia Gill have been meeting victims regularly to reassure them. Volunteers, helped by non governmental organisations have ensured that relief material reaches the victims. 

The minorities commission has also issued a warning to Delhi Police to, “desist from haphazard arrests of youth from the North East district.” The DMC, has told the area DCP that, “if such arrests do not stop, and the Commission gets documented cases, legal action will be taken against those responsible.” Another notice has been sent to DCP North East seeking that the complete list of all violence-related FIRs registered since 23 February 2020, as well as copies of all complaints to this effect which were not converted into FIRs, be handed to the commission. 

According to a statement issued by the commission they have also sent the are DCP North East, “four photographs of a lynching case on 24 February 2020 where clearly identifiable persons, including one identified as Anant Bhardwaj are seen lynching one Muhammad Zubair at an underpass near Bhajanpura market.” The DCP has been asked to share details of what action has been taken in the case.

Related:

Stories of Harmony over Hate: Delhi violence
Delhi riots transferred to SITs headed by controversial officers including one barred by EC
Delhi riots carefully orchestrated using social media?
Marooned by Hate: Muslims and the Delhi Pogrom
Is the Delhi Pogrom 2020 really over?

Delhi violence: Mapping the damage

Delhi Minority Commission fact-finding committee maps NE Delhi, seeks answers from Delhi Police 

delhi violenceImage Courtesy: Hindustan Times

The Delhi Minority Commission (DMC) has been intensely mapping the damage caused by the pogrom that was unleashed in the Muslim dominated areas of North-East Delhi in February, 2020. A 10-member fact-finding committee chaired by M.R. Shamshad, Advocate-on-Record, Supreme Court of India, has started its work in the area, assisted by 30 volunteers. They are surveying the riot affected areas to verify and record the actual damage, using a detailed assessment form. The data collected will show the actual figures of the number of dead, injured, and damage to properties. This data is being collected by volunteers who are going  door-to-door visiting the victims’ houses, shops and relief camps. 

The DMC has also placed notices in the violence-affected areas to let people know that the fact-finding committee has been formed. The committee helpline numbers are: 8076282502, 9540060606, 9717455303. 

Each responded is given a receipt after they fill the assessment form. The DMC will also monitor cases where the victims are being denied due compensation or whose FIRs have not been registered by Delhi Police. The DMC fact-finding committee is in regular contact with the victims, the police as well as the local administration and have also set up a help desk at Mustafabad Eidgah. A large number of survivors had taken shelter here and the local administration had placed bands on their wrists as an identification. Many of these victims had been complaining of inadequate relief material, and said they were facing difficulties in registering FIRs. Lawyers volunteering with the  DMC team are helping the victims file the official paperwork needed to access compensation and seek justice. The DMC has also asked  North East Delhi District Magistrate to provide the list of all compensation forms filed by victims to the SDMs. 

Apart from the fact-finding committee, senior DMC officials including chairman Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan, members Kartar Singh Kochhar and Anastasia Gill have been meeting victims regularly to reassure them. Volunteers, helped by non governmental organisations have ensured that relief material reaches the victims. 

The minorities commission has also issued a warning to Delhi Police to, “desist from haphazard arrests of youth from the North East district.” The DMC, has told the area DCP that, “if such arrests do not stop, and the Commission gets documented cases, legal action will be taken against those responsible.” Another notice has been sent to DCP North East seeking that the complete list of all violence-related FIRs registered since 23 February 2020, as well as copies of all complaints to this effect which were not converted into FIRs, be handed to the commission. 

According to a statement issued by the commission they have also sent the are DCP North East, “four photographs of a lynching case on 24 February 2020 where clearly identifiable persons, including one identified as Anant Bhardwaj are seen lynching one Muhammad Zubair at an underpass near Bhajanpura market.” The DCP has been asked to share details of what action has been taken in the case.

Related:

Stories of Harmony over Hate: Delhi violence
Delhi riots transferred to SITs headed by controversial officers including one barred by EC
Delhi riots carefully orchestrated using social media?
Marooned by Hate: Muslims and the Delhi Pogrom
Is the Delhi Pogrom 2020 really over?

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Delhi violence: Volunteers submit memorandum of demands to Delhi gov’t about relief and rehabilitation

A group of volunteers and concerned citizens have submitted a list of demands related to relief, reconciliation, reparation and reparation of survivors in the NE Delhi riots

23 Mar 2020

Mazaar

Post the communal violence in North East Delhi, volunteers and concerned citizens involved in relief, rehabilitation and documentation efforts have submitted a list of demands to the Delhi government, highlighting the measures that are imperative for the state to undertake in the aftermath that left 50 dead, over 500 injured and the whole of North East Delhi grappling with destruction of their homes, businesses, livelihoods and places of worship.

In a press release issued by the Citizen Volunteers for North East Delhi, the group said that three weeks post the incident and after independent relief work and documentation in the area, there is widespread deprivation among the citizens affected due to the violence. It said that the state had a moral and administrative duty to compensate and rehabilitate those affected and not just leave the task to volunteers, especially seeing the scale of the violence and the current impending threat of the Covid-19 as the victims are living in relief camps, making them more susceptible to the disease.

The volunteers and citizens through their observations suggest that the violence in February, was not sporadic, but organized and targeted particularly at Muslim residents in the area. They also questioned the role of the Delhi police during the incident. Because most of the people affected in the violence were workers from the informal labour force, the volunteers suggest that it is even more important to their livelihoods into account.

Post the riots, many have been forced out of their homes and have lost all important documents. Though the Delhi CM did announce compensation for the families of the deceased and for those who were injured and also offered ways to remake identity documents, volunteers on ground in Delhi still feel there is a lot more needed to be done – 

  • conducting a survey of the impact on all sectors of informal sectors and create an inventory of unique needs for each, 
  • check asset loss and loss of wages and valuables, 
  • set up more camps on ground for providing documentation and ensure a simplified method for the same, 
  • announce long-term relief and rehabilitation measures and set up large-scale relief camps and provide alternate employment opportunities to those affected in the pogrom.

The volunteers and citizens have demanded that the ex-gratia amount announced to the next of kin of the deceased must be enhanced from the current Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 25 lakh. They also said that the forms of sexual violence, recognized under the Indian penal code, including rape, assault or criminal force to outrage modesty or intent to disrobe, must be added to the categories of injury with a compensation amount of 5 lakhs.

It also asked the government to create additional categories in loss of moveable property – include thelas, cars, auto rickshaws, cycles and bikes and the compensation for the same, including the loss of domestic / pet animals be enhanced to match with current market rates.

They also demand that compensation for damage to uninsured commercial property / commercial articles must be 100 percent borne by the government and the government must announce daily survival expenses for food, medicines, children’s needs, etc., apart from resettling those who fled to save their lives and those who were internally displaced by providing housing and means of livelihood which are at least on par with what they have before displacement.

Delhi

In a letter to CM Kejriwal and Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, they put forth a memorandum of 9 demands covering the gamut of:

1.       Relief – Offering relief to the families currently at the Idgah camp in Mustafabad, ensuring their safety amid the Covid-19 threat by providing adequate home options, ensuring supply of relief material, especially food and ensuring that every member of the family is treated as a ration card holder and can avail PDS rations.

 2.       Compensation – Create additional categories for compensation apart from increasing quantum of claims where needed, set up grievance redressal processes for tenants who are excluded from claims due to no ID, disburse compensation and process claims in time and set up helplines and desks for citizens to easily put forth their concerns.

 3.       Legal Assistance and Information – Provide full-time government legal aid desk at relief camps and set up legal aid centers to help with cases of police harassment and illegal detention and ensure a Special Investigation Team monitored by a sitting judge of the High Court of Delhi, is set up in the long-term to probe the violence in an unbiased manner.

 4.       Medical and Psycho-Social Trauma Interventions – The government must bear the cost of treatment – from diagnosis to recovery, offer free maternity and OPD services and put in measures for the psycho-social rehabilitation of those incarcerated and those who suffered severe stress, anxiety and depression post the violence.

 5.       Implications of Covid-19 – Ensure alternate accommodation reducing the pressure at Idgah, preferably house those in relief camps at government-owned rented accommodation, ensure a monthly amount to the ‘riot-affected’ families instead of just offering an ex-gratia of Rs. 25,000 and create awareness of sanitization facilities and disinfect the relief camp and all the sites affected in the violence.

 6.       Livelihood Interventions – Survey asset loss, wage loss and property damage in affected areas; announce interim and long-term rehabilitation measures for formal and informal workers and ensuring per month compensation (at least Rs. 3,000) for rural and informal workers seeing the threat of Covid-19

 7.       Skilling and Education – Provision of counseling, school material and tuition support to children, safety of anganwadis and anganwadi workers, offer skilling programmes for people to get back to a better livelihood, life-long pension for widows and a stipend for school and college going children of the deceased.  

 8.       Reconciliation, Reparation and Communal Harmony – Setting up ‘Mohalla Aman’ communities in riot-affected areas, monitoring and curbing of hate speech and communal propaganda through social media and the constitution of a Reparation policy for those affected in the violence.

 9.       Rehabilitation – Time-bound investigation into damaged properties and structures. Security against illegal occupation, a comprehensive scheme on the physical and spatial rebuilding of riot-affected areas and a close eye on the purchase of commercial and residential properties in these areas till the process of rebuilding is completed.

The memorandum of demands has been signed by various eminent citizens who have urgently appealed the elected representatives of the government to undertake swift action and partner with other organizations, federations and unions to ensure the wholesome rehabilitation to those who suffered the Delhi carnage of 2020.

Related:

Stories of Harmony over Hate: Delhi violence
Delhi riots transferred to SITs headed by controversial officers including one barred by EC
Delhi riots carefully orchestrated using social media?
Marooned by Hate: Muslims and the Delhi Pogrom
Is the Delhi Pogrom 2020 really over?

 

 

Delhi violence: Volunteers submit memorandum of demands to Delhi gov’t about relief and rehabilitation

A group of volunteers and concerned citizens have submitted a list of demands related to relief, reconciliation, reparation and reparation of survivors in the NE Delhi riots

Mazaar

Post the communal violence in North East Delhi, volunteers and concerned citizens involved in relief, rehabilitation and documentation efforts have submitted a list of demands to the Delhi government, highlighting the measures that are imperative for the state to undertake in the aftermath that left 50 dead, over 500 injured and the whole of North East Delhi grappling with destruction of their homes, businesses, livelihoods and places of worship.

In a press release issued by the Citizen Volunteers for North East Delhi, the group said that three weeks post the incident and after independent relief work and documentation in the area, there is widespread deprivation among the citizens affected due to the violence. It said that the state had a moral and administrative duty to compensate and rehabilitate those affected and not just leave the task to volunteers, especially seeing the scale of the violence and the current impending threat of the Covid-19 as the victims are living in relief camps, making them more susceptible to the disease.

The volunteers and citizens through their observations suggest that the violence in February, was not sporadic, but organized and targeted particularly at Muslim residents in the area. They also questioned the role of the Delhi police during the incident. Because most of the people affected in the violence were workers from the informal labour force, the volunteers suggest that it is even more important to their livelihoods into account.

Post the riots, many have been forced out of their homes and have lost all important documents. Though the Delhi CM did announce compensation for the families of the deceased and for those who were injured and also offered ways to remake identity documents, volunteers on ground in Delhi still feel there is a lot more needed to be done – 

  • conducting a survey of the impact on all sectors of informal sectors and create an inventory of unique needs for each, 
  • check asset loss and loss of wages and valuables, 
  • set up more camps on ground for providing documentation and ensure a simplified method for the same, 
  • announce long-term relief and rehabilitation measures and set up large-scale relief camps and provide alternate employment opportunities to those affected in the pogrom.

The volunteers and citizens have demanded that the ex-gratia amount announced to the next of kin of the deceased must be enhanced from the current Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 25 lakh. They also said that the forms of sexual violence, recognized under the Indian penal code, including rape, assault or criminal force to outrage modesty or intent to disrobe, must be added to the categories of injury with a compensation amount of 5 lakhs.

It also asked the government to create additional categories in loss of moveable property – include thelas, cars, auto rickshaws, cycles and bikes and the compensation for the same, including the loss of domestic / pet animals be enhanced to match with current market rates.

They also demand that compensation for damage to uninsured commercial property / commercial articles must be 100 percent borne by the government and the government must announce daily survival expenses for food, medicines, children’s needs, etc., apart from resettling those who fled to save their lives and those who were internally displaced by providing housing and means of livelihood which are at least on par with what they have before displacement.

Delhi

In a letter to CM Kejriwal and Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, they put forth a memorandum of 9 demands covering the gamut of:

1.       Relief – Offering relief to the families currently at the Idgah camp in Mustafabad, ensuring their safety amid the Covid-19 threat by providing adequate home options, ensuring supply of relief material, especially food and ensuring that every member of the family is treated as a ration card holder and can avail PDS rations.

 2.       Compensation – Create additional categories for compensation apart from increasing quantum of claims where needed, set up grievance redressal processes for tenants who are excluded from claims due to no ID, disburse compensation and process claims in time and set up helplines and desks for citizens to easily put forth their concerns.

 3.       Legal Assistance and Information – Provide full-time government legal aid desk at relief camps and set up legal aid centers to help with cases of police harassment and illegal detention and ensure a Special Investigation Team monitored by a sitting judge of the High Court of Delhi, is set up in the long-term to probe the violence in an unbiased manner.

 4.       Medical and Psycho-Social Trauma Interventions – The government must bear the cost of treatment – from diagnosis to recovery, offer free maternity and OPD services and put in measures for the psycho-social rehabilitation of those incarcerated and those who suffered severe stress, anxiety and depression post the violence.

 5.       Implications of Covid-19 – Ensure alternate accommodation reducing the pressure at Idgah, preferably house those in relief camps at government-owned rented accommodation, ensure a monthly amount to the ‘riot-affected’ families instead of just offering an ex-gratia of Rs. 25,000 and create awareness of sanitization facilities and disinfect the relief camp and all the sites affected in the violence.

 6.       Livelihood Interventions – Survey asset loss, wage loss and property damage in affected areas; announce interim and long-term rehabilitation measures for formal and informal workers and ensuring per month compensation (at least Rs. 3,000) for rural and informal workers seeing the threat of Covid-19

 7.       Skilling and Education – Provision of counseling, school material and tuition support to children, safety of anganwadis and anganwadi workers, offer skilling programmes for people to get back to a better livelihood, life-long pension for widows and a stipend for school and college going children of the deceased.  

 8.       Reconciliation, Reparation and Communal Harmony – Setting up ‘Mohalla Aman’ communities in riot-affected areas, monitoring and curbing of hate speech and communal propaganda through social media and the constitution of a Reparation policy for those affected in the violence.

 9.       Rehabilitation – Time-bound investigation into damaged properties and structures. Security against illegal occupation, a comprehensive scheme on the physical and spatial rebuilding of riot-affected areas and a close eye on the purchase of commercial and residential properties in these areas till the process of rebuilding is completed.

The memorandum of demands has been signed by various eminent citizens who have urgently appealed the elected representatives of the government to undertake swift action and partner with other organizations, federations and unions to ensure the wholesome rehabilitation to those who suffered the Delhi carnage of 2020.

Related:

Stories of Harmony over Hate: Delhi violence
Delhi riots transferred to SITs headed by controversial officers including one barred by EC
Delhi riots carefully orchestrated using social media?
Marooned by Hate: Muslims and the Delhi Pogrom
Is the Delhi Pogrom 2020 really over?

 

 

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Man pushes racist Hindutva agenda amid Covid-19 outbreak

Prashant Tripathi, a dentist and an actor in his video asked who was laughing now that the whole world was following Hindutva rituals

21 Mar 2020

facebook

While some are using the Coronavirus outbreak to set an example of communal harmony by calling off protests, shutting down places of worship and the minorities working together with the majority population to ensure public safety and health, there are some like Prashant Tripathi, who are busy pushing the racist and caste-supremacist Hindutva agenda to their followers on social media.

Said to be an endodontist, Tripathi is also a motivational speaker and actor who appears on crime-based shows on primetime TV. He plays a cop on a show called Savdhaan India and on March 18, 2020, while India was in the trenches, battling the coronavirus, he was posting a video on how the principles of Hindutva, especially the practice of joining hands in ‘namaste’ is saving the world from the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the Covid-19 was found to spread through body contact – the shaking of hands, touching face, nose and mouth; world over people started greeting each other either by joining their hands or using other funnier methods like touching elbow to elbow or foot to foot, to avoid spreading the virus.

However, since that has happened, right-wing Hindutva believers have gone all out to say that it was only now that the world was accepting India’s Hindutva practices while prior to this, they scoffed at all such gestures. Dressed as a cop, addressing someone as “they” in his video he said, “When we used to do Namaste, they used to laugh; when we used to do yoga, they used to laugh; when we used to worship animals as Gods, they used to laugh; when we used to take care of our parents, they used to laugh; when we used to enter home and wash our hands and feet before eating, they used to laugh; when we used to consume a vegetarian diet, they used to laugh; when we used to burn the dead from our communities, they used to laugh; but it is shocking now that no one is laughing at us. All the 260 countries are all quiet now and are doing ‘namaste’ now. This ‘namaste’ shows the strength of the nation. We are Hindutva, trust Hindutva. Hindutva is a lifestyle based on science. We are Hindutva and on that basis we will on its basis.”

He ended his monologue with a couplet where he said, “Corona corona toh chala jaayega, chinta mat kijiye, vishwas rakhiye, is desh ka khoya hua Gaurav vaapas aayega (Corona will go away, don’t worry, keep faith, this country’s lost honour will be restored).”

 


His video titled – “Hindutva is a way of life, not a religion, today the world is following us”, garnered 1 million views in a day. However, Tripathi seems to be a little misinformed. In his video he said that there are 260 countries, when in fact there are only 195 countries in the world. Also, by talking about vegetarianism or cremating corpses by burning them as the only good practices, he is indirectly claiming that it is only the Hindus in India who follow such rituals which are meant to be good for society.

By claiming that it is only the Hindutva followers who take care of their parents or who practice hygiene, he is denigrating the values and upbringing of people from other communities, basically the minorities.

Tripathi and his followers must understand that Hindutva isn’t a lifestyle, but an extreme form of Hindu nationalism peddled to claim cultural hegemony of Hindus over other religions in India and make India a Hindu Rashtra.

Article 51A of the Constitution of India states that everyone in the country must develop a scientific temper. It is with science that the coronavirus pandemic is being handled. Practices in the Hindu religion may be effective, but to claim monopoly of goodness and efficiency, like Tripathi does in his video, is juvenile and a mockery of the shocking amounts of lives lost and people from different castes, creeds and religions affected by the pandemic all over the world.

Related:

Covid-19: What happens to prisoners, now?

Aaj Tak’s communal agenda surfaces as it targets Shaheen Bagh, mosques over Covid-19

Man pushes racist Hindutva agenda amid Covid-19 outbreak

Prashant Tripathi, a dentist and an actor in his video asked who was laughing now that the whole world was following Hindutva rituals

facebook

While some are using the Coronavirus outbreak to set an example of communal harmony by calling off protests, shutting down places of worship and the minorities working together with the majority population to ensure public safety and health, there are some like Prashant Tripathi, who are busy pushing the racist and caste-supremacist Hindutva agenda to their followers on social media.

Said to be an endodontist, Tripathi is also a motivational speaker and actor who appears on crime-based shows on primetime TV. He plays a cop on a show called Savdhaan India and on March 18, 2020, while India was in the trenches, battling the coronavirus, he was posting a video on how the principles of Hindutva, especially the practice of joining hands in ‘namaste’ is saving the world from the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the Covid-19 was found to spread through body contact – the shaking of hands, touching face, nose and mouth; world over people started greeting each other either by joining their hands or using other funnier methods like touching elbow to elbow or foot to foot, to avoid spreading the virus.

However, since that has happened, right-wing Hindutva believers have gone all out to say that it was only now that the world was accepting India’s Hindutva practices while prior to this, they scoffed at all such gestures. Dressed as a cop, addressing someone as “they” in his video he said, “When we used to do Namaste, they used to laugh; when we used to do yoga, they used to laugh; when we used to worship animals as Gods, they used to laugh; when we used to take care of our parents, they used to laugh; when we used to enter home and wash our hands and feet before eating, they used to laugh; when we used to consume a vegetarian diet, they used to laugh; when we used to burn the dead from our communities, they used to laugh; but it is shocking now that no one is laughing at us. All the 260 countries are all quiet now and are doing ‘namaste’ now. This ‘namaste’ shows the strength of the nation. We are Hindutva, trust Hindutva. Hindutva is a lifestyle based on science. We are Hindutva and on that basis we will on its basis.”

He ended his monologue with a couplet where he said, “Corona corona toh chala jaayega, chinta mat kijiye, vishwas rakhiye, is desh ka khoya hua Gaurav vaapas aayega (Corona will go away, don’t worry, keep faith, this country’s lost honour will be restored).”

 


His video titled – “Hindutva is a way of life, not a religion, today the world is following us”, garnered 1 million views in a day. However, Tripathi seems to be a little misinformed. In his video he said that there are 260 countries, when in fact there are only 195 countries in the world. Also, by talking about vegetarianism or cremating corpses by burning them as the only good practices, he is indirectly claiming that it is only the Hindus in India who follow such rituals which are meant to be good for society.

By claiming that it is only the Hindutva followers who take care of their parents or who practice hygiene, he is denigrating the values and upbringing of people from other communities, basically the minorities.

Tripathi and his followers must understand that Hindutva isn’t a lifestyle, but an extreme form of Hindu nationalism peddled to claim cultural hegemony of Hindus over other religions in India and make India a Hindu Rashtra.

Article 51A of the Constitution of India states that everyone in the country must develop a scientific temper. It is with science that the coronavirus pandemic is being handled. Practices in the Hindu religion may be effective, but to claim monopoly of goodness and efficiency, like Tripathi does in his video, is juvenile and a mockery of the shocking amounts of lives lost and people from different castes, creeds and religions affected by the pandemic all over the world.

Related:

Covid-19: What happens to prisoners, now?

Aaj Tak’s communal agenda surfaces as it targets Shaheen Bagh, mosques over Covid-19

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Muslim man assaulted in Assam for selling beef, NHRC issues show-cause notice to gov’t

The restaurant owner had been beaten up for allegedly selling beef dishes in a ‘Hindu neighbourhood’

20 Mar 2020

Assam Man

In April 2019, 68-year-old Shaukat Ali was beaten up for allegedly selling beef dishes in his restaurant located what was considered a ‘Hindu neighbourhood’ in Assam’s Biswanath Chairali district. He was not only accused of hurting Hindu sentiments, but also allegedly force-fed pork as a punishment. The National Commission for Human Rights has now issued a show cause notice to the Assam government.

In its ruling delivered on March 12, 2020, the NHRC said, “Issue notice u/s 18 of the PHR Act 1993 to the Chief Secretary, Assam to show cause as to why the Commission should not grant monetary relief of Rs. 1,00,000/- (Rs. One Lakh only) to the victim Shaukat Ali within 6 weeks.” The NHRC also said, “Director General of Police Assam is directed to submit action taken report against the guilty police officials within 6 weeks.”

The NHRC also found the actions of a public servant who was collecting taxes in the area with the help of local youth questionable. This public servant had tried to collect taxes from Ali. After carefully scrutinizing the Superintendent of Police’s report in the case, the NHRC ruled, “It is clearly discernible from the report that public servant was collecting revenue from the market involving some local unemployed youths which is against the law. The victim was found insulted and disgraced on basis of caste/religion, therefore, human rights of the victim were violated by collecting revenue by a public servant i.e. profession tax collector illegally. Police has apprehended 15 persons and forwarded them to judicial custody. Thus, prima facie it is a case of violation of human rights of the victim for which the State is vicariously liable to compensate the victim.”

We had first reported this incident last year, when a video of the assault went viral. It is also noteworthy that the incident had taken place around the time of the general elections held that year. Ali, according to his family, ran a small eatery selling rice and meat twice a week, on Sundays and Thursdays. The other days of the week, he sold ittar, veils and religious texts.

It is noteworthy that Assam’s Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 allows the slaughter of cows only over 14 years of age or those incapable of breeding. As per the Act, a fitness for slaughter certificate (loosely referred to as a license) must be granted by a veterinary doctor. However, consuming or selling beef is nor a cognisable offence in the state.

The entire NHRC ruling may be read here: 

 

Related:

Elderly Muslim man beaten for selling beef in Assam

Muslim man assaulted in Assam for selling beef, NHRC issues show-cause notice to gov’t

The restaurant owner had been beaten up for allegedly selling beef dishes in a ‘Hindu neighbourhood’

Assam Man

In April 2019, 68-year-old Shaukat Ali was beaten up for allegedly selling beef dishes in his restaurant located what was considered a ‘Hindu neighbourhood’ in Assam’s Biswanath Chairali district. He was not only accused of hurting Hindu sentiments, but also allegedly force-fed pork as a punishment. The National Commission for Human Rights has now issued a show cause notice to the Assam government.

In its ruling delivered on March 12, 2020, the NHRC said, “Issue notice u/s 18 of the PHR Act 1993 to the Chief Secretary, Assam to show cause as to why the Commission should not grant monetary relief of Rs. 1,00,000/- (Rs. One Lakh only) to the victim Shaukat Ali within 6 weeks.” The NHRC also said, “Director General of Police Assam is directed to submit action taken report against the guilty police officials within 6 weeks.”

The NHRC also found the actions of a public servant who was collecting taxes in the area with the help of local youth questionable. This public servant had tried to collect taxes from Ali. After carefully scrutinizing the Superintendent of Police’s report in the case, the NHRC ruled, “It is clearly discernible from the report that public servant was collecting revenue from the market involving some local unemployed youths which is against the law. The victim was found insulted and disgraced on basis of caste/religion, therefore, human rights of the victim were violated by collecting revenue by a public servant i.e. profession tax collector illegally. Police has apprehended 15 persons and forwarded them to judicial custody. Thus, prima facie it is a case of violation of human rights of the victim for which the State is vicariously liable to compensate the victim.”

We had first reported this incident last year, when a video of the assault went viral. It is also noteworthy that the incident had taken place around the time of the general elections held that year. Ali, according to his family, ran a small eatery selling rice and meat twice a week, on Sundays and Thursdays. The other days of the week, he sold ittar, veils and religious texts.

It is noteworthy that Assam’s Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 allows the slaughter of cows only over 14 years of age or those incapable of breeding. As per the Act, a fitness for slaughter certificate (loosely referred to as a license) must be granted by a veterinary doctor. However, consuming or selling beef is nor a cognisable offence in the state.

The entire NHRC ruling may be read here: 

 

Related:

Elderly Muslim man beaten for selling beef in Assam

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Kashi Vikas Samiti miffed with actress Sara Ali Khan for visiting Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The members of the Samiti complained that the actor’s visit was against traditions and established norms

20 Mar 2020

sarah ali khan

The Kashi Vikas Samiti has taken objection to actress Sara Ali Khan’s visit to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi complaining that her attendance at the ‘Ganga Aarti’ was not acceptable as she is a non-Hindu. The Samiti has demanded an investigation into her visit and action against those responsible, News 18 reported.

Also seeing her visit to the temple through communally colored lenses were some Deoband clerics.  Maulana Mufti Asad Qasmi, a Deoband cleric of the Ittehad-ulema-e-Hind, condemned her visit to the temple saying her actions were a reflection of idolatry, a practice not followed in Islam. Saying that a Muslim cannot worship deities or perform rituals that belong to another religion he told UP Tak, “The way Sara has performed the Ganga Aarti being a Muslim is not allowed in Islam. These rituals considered as sin in Islam. Her actions are against Islam and is unacceptable. If she considers herself a Muslim and is a Muslim, she must atone for this sin and ask for forgiveness from Allah stating that she will not indulge in such an action again.”

 

Sara had uploaded the video of her visit on a popular photo and video sharing site, Instagram.

 

 

Sara was in Varanasi to shoot for her latest film when she attended the evening Ganga Aarti and visited the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and was accompanied by her mother Amrita Singh, Saif Ali Khan’s first wife, who is a Hindu.

It was also reported that she had touched the ‘shivalinga’, thereby performing ‘sparsh darshan’ while she was part of a special ritual there.

News 18 reported Chandra Shekhar Kapoor, the Secretary of the Samiti as saying, “The actor's visit to the temple is against traditions and established norms. It also raises questions on the security of the temple when there is a signboard clearly stating that the entry of 'non-Hindus' is prohibited.”

“How was a non-Hindu allowed to enter the temple and have sparsh darshan.....entry of non-Hindus is completely banned in the temple?” he asked.

Kapoor has also expressed his displeasure with the saints and accused that they had violated norms for possibly getting a “handsome dakshina” and free publicity.

Local seers and priests are also upset with her being there. Rakesh Mishra a priest who stated that Sara is a Muslim as she is known by her father’s religion said, “Though we appreciate her interest in the Hindu religion but the fact remains that she is a Muslim and should not have participated in the rituals. For her, all this could be 'interesting and exciting' but for us, it is a matter of religious piety.”

However, another priest, Amarnath Bajpai, defended Sara saying that she was there with her mother, Amrita Singh, who is a devout Hindu.

Post her visit, The Times of India reported that the Kendriya Brahmin Mahasabha affixed an order at the temple entrance to condemn her presence at the temple. The order read, “Those not belonging to Hindu religion are requested not to enter.

Dinesh Tiwari, the General Secretary of the Mahasabha said, “It’s highly objectionable and condemnable that Sara Khan went to the temple and performed ‘sparsh darshan’ despite curbs on entry of non-Hindus. The temple authorities failed to maintain the ‘sanatan’ tradition. Our senior members would meet to discuss the issue.”

Post her visit, she has been attacked by non-Hindus too, especially on social media. They have asked her to remember that she is a Muslim and not visit Hindu religious sites again. She had earlier faced flak for worshipping Lord Ganesha during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, with many demanding that a fatwa be issued against her.

 

It must be noted that Varanasi is a famous destination for foreigners who are not Hindus and visit the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and also attend the Ganga Aarti there. However, there has been no objection to their attendance.

As Siddhu Tiwari, a local tour operator put it, “Any person, including Sara, can visit a temple if they believe in the deity. The 'Ganga aarti' is attended by thousands of foreigners who are non-Hindus too. People are only looking for publicity by making an issue out of this. In fact, we should be happy that Sara has given so much publicity to our temple and 'aarti’.”

Everyone is free to practice their faith in the country. If the Kashi Vikas Samiti doesn’t see a problem with a foreigner coming to the temple or attending the prayers by the Ganges, why are the rules different for Sara? Also, the statement of the Secretary of the Samiti saying that her visit threatens the security of the temple, clearly suggests his and his organization’s biased negative perception of the minorities.

Given the Samiti’s statement as also the statements of its affiliated organizations, it is safe to say that such exclusionary practices are taking place just because she has a Muslim surname attached to her name. 

 

Related:

Aaj Tak’s communal agenda surfaces as it targets Shaheen Bagh, mosques over Covid-19

Lives of the 'haves' and 'have-nots' in the times of Corona

Kashi Vikas Samiti miffed with actress Sara Ali Khan for visiting Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The members of the Samiti complained that the actor’s visit was against traditions and established norms

sarah ali khan

The Kashi Vikas Samiti has taken objection to actress Sara Ali Khan’s visit to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi complaining that her attendance at the ‘Ganga Aarti’ was not acceptable as she is a non-Hindu. The Samiti has demanded an investigation into her visit and action against those responsible, News 18 reported.

Also seeing her visit to the temple through communally colored lenses were some Deoband clerics.  Maulana Mufti Asad Qasmi, a Deoband cleric of the Ittehad-ulema-e-Hind, condemned her visit to the temple saying her actions were a reflection of idolatry, a practice not followed in Islam. Saying that a Muslim cannot worship deities or perform rituals that belong to another religion he told UP Tak, “The way Sara has performed the Ganga Aarti being a Muslim is not allowed in Islam. These rituals considered as sin in Islam. Her actions are against Islam and is unacceptable. If she considers herself a Muslim and is a Muslim, she must atone for this sin and ask for forgiveness from Allah stating that she will not indulge in such an action again.”

 

Sara had uploaded the video of her visit on a popular photo and video sharing site, Instagram.

 

 

Sara was in Varanasi to shoot for her latest film when she attended the evening Ganga Aarti and visited the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and was accompanied by her mother Amrita Singh, Saif Ali Khan’s first wife, who is a Hindu.

It was also reported that she had touched the ‘shivalinga’, thereby performing ‘sparsh darshan’ while she was part of a special ritual there.

News 18 reported Chandra Shekhar Kapoor, the Secretary of the Samiti as saying, “The actor's visit to the temple is against traditions and established norms. It also raises questions on the security of the temple when there is a signboard clearly stating that the entry of 'non-Hindus' is prohibited.”

“How was a non-Hindu allowed to enter the temple and have sparsh darshan.....entry of non-Hindus is completely banned in the temple?” he asked.

Kapoor has also expressed his displeasure with the saints and accused that they had violated norms for possibly getting a “handsome dakshina” and free publicity.

Local seers and priests are also upset with her being there. Rakesh Mishra a priest who stated that Sara is a Muslim as she is known by her father’s religion said, “Though we appreciate her interest in the Hindu religion but the fact remains that she is a Muslim and should not have participated in the rituals. For her, all this could be 'interesting and exciting' but for us, it is a matter of religious piety.”

However, another priest, Amarnath Bajpai, defended Sara saying that she was there with her mother, Amrita Singh, who is a devout Hindu.

Post her visit, The Times of India reported that the Kendriya Brahmin Mahasabha affixed an order at the temple entrance to condemn her presence at the temple. The order read, “Those not belonging to Hindu religion are requested not to enter.

Dinesh Tiwari, the General Secretary of the Mahasabha said, “It’s highly objectionable and condemnable that Sara Khan went to the temple and performed ‘sparsh darshan’ despite curbs on entry of non-Hindus. The temple authorities failed to maintain the ‘sanatan’ tradition. Our senior members would meet to discuss the issue.”

Post her visit, she has been attacked by non-Hindus too, especially on social media. They have asked her to remember that she is a Muslim and not visit Hindu religious sites again. She had earlier faced flak for worshipping Lord Ganesha during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, with many demanding that a fatwa be issued against her.

 

It must be noted that Varanasi is a famous destination for foreigners who are not Hindus and visit the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and also attend the Ganga Aarti there. However, there has been no objection to their attendance.

As Siddhu Tiwari, a local tour operator put it, “Any person, including Sara, can visit a temple if they believe in the deity. The 'Ganga aarti' is attended by thousands of foreigners who are non-Hindus too. People are only looking for publicity by making an issue out of this. In fact, we should be happy that Sara has given so much publicity to our temple and 'aarti’.”

Everyone is free to practice their faith in the country. If the Kashi Vikas Samiti doesn’t see a problem with a foreigner coming to the temple or attending the prayers by the Ganges, why are the rules different for Sara? Also, the statement of the Secretary of the Samiti saying that her visit threatens the security of the temple, clearly suggests his and his organization’s biased negative perception of the minorities.

Given the Samiti’s statement as also the statements of its affiliated organizations, it is safe to say that such exclusionary practices are taking place just because she has a Muslim surname attached to her name. 

 

Related:

Aaj Tak’s communal agenda surfaces as it targets Shaheen Bagh, mosques over Covid-19

Lives of the 'haves' and 'have-nots' in the times of Corona

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Aaj Tak’s communal agenda surfaces as it targets Shaheen Bagh, mosques over Covid-19

The recently aired show asked why only temples were shut and mosques and gurudwaras were allowed to run

19 Mar 2020

coronovirus

While the coronavirus contagion is growing in India, some of the media is still going all guns blazing to keep spreading the communal hatred contagion in the country.

Aaj Tak, a Hindi news channel with a history of shows with a communal angle to its credit, has once again put out a news programme in a clear bid to single out minority religious organizations and an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest in Delhi in particular, and ostracize them for not taking precautions to prevent the deadly Covid-19.

Its primetime show titled Halla Bol presented by the channel’s executive editor Anjana Om Kashyap, opened with showing how all the major temples in India, mostly the ones runs through a trust – the Siddhivinayak Temple, the Akshardham Temple, the Vaishnodevi Temple, The Shirdi Sai Dham, Trimbakeshwar Temple, The ISKCON temple at Vrindavan had all closed their doors to the public to fight the pandemic.

It also mentioned how the number of guests were reduced at the Kashi Vishwananth Temple and that the frequency of the Ganga Aarti in Benaras was reduced to limit the number of visiting devotees.

The show then went on to mention that these temples had been closed as per the decision of the temple managements as a responsible step towards the safety of the citizens. Then, it targeted, though indirectly, the mosques and Gurudwaras still open and the Shaheen Bagh protest at Delhi in particular.

 


Singling out Shaheen Bagh protesters

The anchor singled out the Shaheen Bagh protest for continuing despite the public advisory given by the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal which banned a crowd of more than 50 people at any religious, social, political or cultural gathering. However, she failed to inform her viewers 

It must be noted that post the Delhi government’s orders, the Shaheen Bagh protestors have taken strict measures to reduce the number of people at the protest site, apart from getting it sanitized. They have volunteers with a temperature gun to test people entering the site, have disallowed children from being present there and have installed sanitizers throughout the protest area.

The show presenter also forgot to mention that weddings were spared in the CM’s advisory. The number of people attending a wedding could be around a 100, while at the time of presenting the show, the number of people at Shaheen Bagh was less than 40. Don’t weddings count as community events where the threat of the virus is real too?

The media has been targeting Shaheen Bagh once again amid the coronavirus scare posing it to be the only threat to the lives of the people. 


Building a communal narrative

Though the presenter did not come down heavily on the Gurudwaras throughout the show for not being shut down completely, the channel went on to criticise mosques saying that mosques were not shut, even though all the temples were. This, forgetting that major temples like the Kashi Vishwanath temple were not completely shut and had only placed visitor curbs and sanitization facilities in the premises. The channel also did not mention how Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath is unwilling to cancel the Ram Navami Mela to be held in Ayodhya from March 25 to April 2, 2020. She also forgot to mention how completely defying the ban on large public gatherings, thousands of people participated in an annual religious procession - the Kadiri Narasimha Swamy Brahmotsavam in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday.

Also, most mosques have issued directives suspending mass prayers that take place on Friday and have restricted the number of devotees entering the premises to offer prayers. Instead of showing the true picture, the channel failed to mention how the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) which is home to around 20 mosques, asked students and staff to stay away from Friday prayers and stop ‘wuzu’ (collective washing of hands) and maintain a distance between each other while offering prayers.

The channel also did not mention how Christian bishops and top clergymen had issued official communiques and advisories against large gatherings at masses and prayer services, exempting parishioners from attending services to check the spread of the virus. In fact, the Bishop of Delhi has put on hold all services till March 31. But the show did not highlight any proactive measured taken by members of religious minorities.
 

Conclusion

Through its TV programming, Aaj Tak has not only engaged in spreading communal hatred, but also insinuated that if the corona virus spreads in Delhi, only minorities will be to blame. This is a classic example of ostracizing minorities and also a smear campaign against the anti-CAA campaign, a fight that is being taken up to protect the identity of the minorities. It is just another attempt of the channel appears to side disproportionately with the ruling government to paint the Shaheen Bagh protesters who are staging a legal protest, as those who can bring harm to the nation. The TV programme did not in any way revolve around the safety of the Shaheen Bagh protesters or the safety of the general public, but instead was aimed at spreading vitriol against them.

Not only was the TV programme communally charged – proof being the ticker showing that mosques and gurudwaras are open while temples are shut, it also holds the potential to go viral on social media to further deepen the communal divide – the continual agenda of the alleged state-sponsored media.

Channels like Aaj Tak have been issued advisories by the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) in the past. It is time, the same is done again to ensure that news channels deliver real news to the public and not engaged in state-sponsored agenda.


Related:

"Does the Coronavirus ignore wedding parties, and attack only peaceful protests?"

Mumbai local trains likely to be suspended after city’s first Covid-19 death

 

Aaj Tak’s communal agenda surfaces as it targets Shaheen Bagh, mosques over Covid-19

The recently aired show asked why only temples were shut and mosques and gurudwaras were allowed to run

coronovirus

While the coronavirus contagion is growing in India, some of the media is still going all guns blazing to keep spreading the communal hatred contagion in the country.

Aaj Tak, a Hindi news channel with a history of shows with a communal angle to its credit, has once again put out a news programme in a clear bid to single out minority religious organizations and an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest in Delhi in particular, and ostracize them for not taking precautions to prevent the deadly Covid-19.

Its primetime show titled Halla Bol presented by the channel’s executive editor Anjana Om Kashyap, opened with showing how all the major temples in India, mostly the ones runs through a trust – the Siddhivinayak Temple, the Akshardham Temple, the Vaishnodevi Temple, The Shirdi Sai Dham, Trimbakeshwar Temple, The ISKCON temple at Vrindavan had all closed their doors to the public to fight the pandemic.

It also mentioned how the number of guests were reduced at the Kashi Vishwananth Temple and that the frequency of the Ganga Aarti in Benaras was reduced to limit the number of visiting devotees.

The show then went on to mention that these temples had been closed as per the decision of the temple managements as a responsible step towards the safety of the citizens. Then, it targeted, though indirectly, the mosques and Gurudwaras still open and the Shaheen Bagh protest at Delhi in particular.

 


Singling out Shaheen Bagh protesters

The anchor singled out the Shaheen Bagh protest for continuing despite the public advisory given by the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal which banned a crowd of more than 50 people at any religious, social, political or cultural gathering. However, she failed to inform her viewers 

It must be noted that post the Delhi government’s orders, the Shaheen Bagh protestors have taken strict measures to reduce the number of people at the protest site, apart from getting it sanitized. They have volunteers with a temperature gun to test people entering the site, have disallowed children from being present there and have installed sanitizers throughout the protest area.

The show presenter also forgot to mention that weddings were spared in the CM’s advisory. The number of people attending a wedding could be around a 100, while at the time of presenting the show, the number of people at Shaheen Bagh was less than 40. Don’t weddings count as community events where the threat of the virus is real too?

The media has been targeting Shaheen Bagh once again amid the coronavirus scare posing it to be the only threat to the lives of the people. 


Building a communal narrative

Though the presenter did not come down heavily on the Gurudwaras throughout the show for not being shut down completely, the channel went on to criticise mosques saying that mosques were not shut, even though all the temples were. This, forgetting that major temples like the Kashi Vishwanath temple were not completely shut and had only placed visitor curbs and sanitization facilities in the premises. The channel also did not mention how Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath is unwilling to cancel the Ram Navami Mela to be held in Ayodhya from March 25 to April 2, 2020. She also forgot to mention how completely defying the ban on large public gatherings, thousands of people participated in an annual religious procession - the Kadiri Narasimha Swamy Brahmotsavam in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday.

Also, most mosques have issued directives suspending mass prayers that take place on Friday and have restricted the number of devotees entering the premises to offer prayers. Instead of showing the true picture, the channel failed to mention how the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) which is home to around 20 mosques, asked students and staff to stay away from Friday prayers and stop ‘wuzu’ (collective washing of hands) and maintain a distance between each other while offering prayers.

The channel also did not mention how Christian bishops and top clergymen had issued official communiques and advisories against large gatherings at masses and prayer services, exempting parishioners from attending services to check the spread of the virus. In fact, the Bishop of Delhi has put on hold all services till March 31. But the show did not highlight any proactive measured taken by members of religious minorities.
 

Conclusion

Through its TV programming, Aaj Tak has not only engaged in spreading communal hatred, but also insinuated that if the corona virus spreads in Delhi, only minorities will be to blame. This is a classic example of ostracizing minorities and also a smear campaign against the anti-CAA campaign, a fight that is being taken up to protect the identity of the minorities. It is just another attempt of the channel appears to side disproportionately with the ruling government to paint the Shaheen Bagh protesters who are staging a legal protest, as those who can bring harm to the nation. The TV programme did not in any way revolve around the safety of the Shaheen Bagh protesters or the safety of the general public, but instead was aimed at spreading vitriol against them.

Not only was the TV programme communally charged – proof being the ticker showing that mosques and gurudwaras are open while temples are shut, it also holds the potential to go viral on social media to further deepen the communal divide – the continual agenda of the alleged state-sponsored media.

Channels like Aaj Tak have been issued advisories by the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) in the past. It is time, the same is done again to ensure that news channels deliver real news to the public and not engaged in state-sponsored agenda.


Related:

"Does the Coronavirus ignore wedding parties, and attack only peaceful protests?"

Mumbai local trains likely to be suspended after city’s first Covid-19 death

 

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MHA on CAA petition: Whole expanse of Article 21 cannot be made available to illegal migrants

This was one of the submissions of the MHA in the counter affidavit given in the Supreme Court

18 Mar 2020

MHA

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has filed a 130-page long counter affidavit to the petition filed by Indian Union of Muslim League (IUML) challenging the constitutional validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The MHA has made detailed submissions against all the issues raised in the petition opposing the CAA.

LiveLaw reporrts that in the counter affidavit, the government states that CAA is “a benign piece of legislation which seeks to provide a relaxation, in the nature of an amnesty, to specific communities from the specified countries with a clear cut-off date”. It further states that CAA seeks to tackle the problem of persecution on the ground of religion in light of the undisputable theocratic constitutional position in the specified countries, the systematic functioning of such States and the perception of fear that may be prevalent amongst minorities as per the de facto situation in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The affidavit also states that the jurisdiction of the court in conducting judicial review is restricted since the question of citizenship comes within the plenary domain of the legislature. The affidavit asks the court to not examine CAA on the touchstone of Article 14 of the Constitution in a public interest jurisdiction like this one, considering the “legislative policy making in certain subjects and the enhanced scope of question available to the competent legislature in such matters”.

It also states that “matters concerning the sovereign plenary power of the Parliament, especially in regard to citizenship and the contours thereof, cannot be questioned before this Hon’ble Court by way of a public interest petition.” This statement was not, however, backed by any legal provision or interpretation.

Le us now look at the various aspects in detail.

Article 14 and the exclusion of Rohingyas

The MHA states that the classification based on religion is based on intelligible differentia as they are persecuted for practicing different religion than the one recognized in these countries. For proof of persecution, the government relies on Parliamentary Committees as well as other contemporaneous official record and the debates in the Indian Parliament. It states that the parliament need not take into consideration as to which other communities are treated as minorities in the said three named countries while conferring citizenship. 

It justified the non-inclusion of Rohingyas of Myanmar under the provisions of CAA by stating that their persecution is based on ethnicity and language which is to be differentiated from persecution on religious grounds alone and submitted that Rohingyas are not on the same footing as the religiously persecuted minorities who have fled into India from the particular neighbouring countries.

Religion vs Religious persecution

The government submitted that the Indian Parliament has, on numerous issues, recognised religion as a distinct criteria and made classification on the basis of the same. Merely because religion is the starting point of any classification [and not the sole basis of classification], would not imply such classification falls foul of the principles of secularism. It said that legislative recognition of religious persecution in a limited geographical area with established non-secular states cannot be termed to be against the concept of secularism. The said recognition, in a different manner, resonates in legislations across the world and is in no manner a novel or an immoral form of classification as alleged.

It further submitted that the CAA does not classify or differentiate on the ground of religion rather it classifies on the ground of “religious persecution” in countries functioning with a state religion.

Article 21

The MHA states that Central Government has unfettered discretion in matter concerning deportation of illegal migrants whilst following a due process of law. Powers of Central Government to detain & deport an illegal foreigner have been entrusted since 1958 to State Government under Article 258(1) of the Constitution of India.

The affidavit further states that expanse of Article 21 is extremely wide in India and it cannot be argued that the whole expanse would be available to illegal migrants. It added that identification of illegal migrants in the country, as a principle of governance, is a sovereign, statutory and moral responsibility of the government and is in conformity with Article 21.

Article 15 and Article 19

The government has made it clear that since Articles 15 and 19 do not apply to non-citizens, and since citizens do not stand to be affected by CAA, these Articles cannot be invoked in this case.

Section 14A of the Citizenship Act

This section deals with the provisions of issuance of national identity cards to Indian citizens which was inserted by an amendment in 2004. The government submits that even Afghanistan and Pakistan have a system for issuance of such cards and the assertion of the petitioners that this section results in excessive delegation by Parliament to the Executive is erroneous  as the only delegation contemplated in Section 14A is the delegation of power to frame rules with regard to the procedure to be followed.

Cut-off date

The MHA states that the country cannot have an open-ended provision for citizenship and hence a cut off date had to be decided. It states that there is no estoppel on the legal migration in the country.

Violation of constitutional morality

The MHA submits that the principle of constitutional morality cannot be invoked in isolation and must in fact be located within the fundamental right provisions. It states that CAA does not violate any fundamental right provisions of the constitution and therefore, the question of violation of constitutional morality does not arise. It further submitted that constitutional morality is not an unruly horse and cannot become an independent basis for challenging the constitutionality of validly enacted legislations.

Through this counter affidavit, the MHA has denied every allegation of abrogation of constitutional principles or fundamental rights. The proceedings in the case will further decide how the petitioner’s stance plays out and how the courts put the arguments of both parties into legal perspective basis the plethora of precedents already at its disposal for determining whether a law is ultra vires the Constitution.


Related:

Is UP's new Ordinance on recovery of damages an example of abuse of power?

Shaheen Bagh protest continues; protestors take preventive measures against Covid-19

Telangana Assembly passes resolution against CAA-NPR-NRC

 

 

MHA on CAA petition: Whole expanse of Article 21 cannot be made available to illegal migrants

This was one of the submissions of the MHA in the counter affidavit given in the Supreme Court

MHA

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has filed a 130-page long counter affidavit to the petition filed by Indian Union of Muslim League (IUML) challenging the constitutional validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The MHA has made detailed submissions against all the issues raised in the petition opposing the CAA.

LiveLaw reporrts that in the counter affidavit, the government states that CAA is “a benign piece of legislation which seeks to provide a relaxation, in the nature of an amnesty, to specific communities from the specified countries with a clear cut-off date”. It further states that CAA seeks to tackle the problem of persecution on the ground of religion in light of the undisputable theocratic constitutional position in the specified countries, the systematic functioning of such States and the perception of fear that may be prevalent amongst minorities as per the de facto situation in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The affidavit also states that the jurisdiction of the court in conducting judicial review is restricted since the question of citizenship comes within the plenary domain of the legislature. The affidavit asks the court to not examine CAA on the touchstone of Article 14 of the Constitution in a public interest jurisdiction like this one, considering the “legislative policy making in certain subjects and the enhanced scope of question available to the competent legislature in such matters”.

It also states that “matters concerning the sovereign plenary power of the Parliament, especially in regard to citizenship and the contours thereof, cannot be questioned before this Hon’ble Court by way of a public interest petition.” This statement was not, however, backed by any legal provision or interpretation.

Le us now look at the various aspects in detail.

Article 14 and the exclusion of Rohingyas

The MHA states that the classification based on religion is based on intelligible differentia as they are persecuted for practicing different religion than the one recognized in these countries. For proof of persecution, the government relies on Parliamentary Committees as well as other contemporaneous official record and the debates in the Indian Parliament. It states that the parliament need not take into consideration as to which other communities are treated as minorities in the said three named countries while conferring citizenship. 

It justified the non-inclusion of Rohingyas of Myanmar under the provisions of CAA by stating that their persecution is based on ethnicity and language which is to be differentiated from persecution on religious grounds alone and submitted that Rohingyas are not on the same footing as the religiously persecuted minorities who have fled into India from the particular neighbouring countries.

Religion vs Religious persecution

The government submitted that the Indian Parliament has, on numerous issues, recognised religion as a distinct criteria and made classification on the basis of the same. Merely because religion is the starting point of any classification [and not the sole basis of classification], would not imply such classification falls foul of the principles of secularism. It said that legislative recognition of religious persecution in a limited geographical area with established non-secular states cannot be termed to be against the concept of secularism. The said recognition, in a different manner, resonates in legislations across the world and is in no manner a novel or an immoral form of classification as alleged.

It further submitted that the CAA does not classify or differentiate on the ground of religion rather it classifies on the ground of “religious persecution” in countries functioning with a state religion.

Article 21

The MHA states that Central Government has unfettered discretion in matter concerning deportation of illegal migrants whilst following a due process of law. Powers of Central Government to detain & deport an illegal foreigner have been entrusted since 1958 to State Government under Article 258(1) of the Constitution of India.

The affidavit further states that expanse of Article 21 is extremely wide in India and it cannot be argued that the whole expanse would be available to illegal migrants. It added that identification of illegal migrants in the country, as a principle of governance, is a sovereign, statutory and moral responsibility of the government and is in conformity with Article 21.

Article 15 and Article 19

The government has made it clear that since Articles 15 and 19 do not apply to non-citizens, and since citizens do not stand to be affected by CAA, these Articles cannot be invoked in this case.

Section 14A of the Citizenship Act

This section deals with the provisions of issuance of national identity cards to Indian citizens which was inserted by an amendment in 2004. The government submits that even Afghanistan and Pakistan have a system for issuance of such cards and the assertion of the petitioners that this section results in excessive delegation by Parliament to the Executive is erroneous  as the only delegation contemplated in Section 14A is the delegation of power to frame rules with regard to the procedure to be followed.

Cut-off date

The MHA states that the country cannot have an open-ended provision for citizenship and hence a cut off date had to be decided. It states that there is no estoppel on the legal migration in the country.

Violation of constitutional morality

The MHA submits that the principle of constitutional morality cannot be invoked in isolation and must in fact be located within the fundamental right provisions. It states that CAA does not violate any fundamental right provisions of the constitution and therefore, the question of violation of constitutional morality does not arise. It further submitted that constitutional morality is not an unruly horse and cannot become an independent basis for challenging the constitutionality of validly enacted legislations.

Through this counter affidavit, the MHA has denied every allegation of abrogation of constitutional principles or fundamental rights. The proceedings in the case will further decide how the petitioner’s stance plays out and how the courts put the arguments of both parties into legal perspective basis the plethora of precedents already at its disposal for determining whether a law is ultra vires the Constitution.


Related:

Is UP's new Ordinance on recovery of damages an example of abuse of power?

Shaheen Bagh protest continues; protestors take preventive measures against Covid-19

Telangana Assembly passes resolution against CAA-NPR-NRC

 

 

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