Skip to main content
Sabrang
Clean Name
Sabrangindia
Columnist
Off
Sabrang

SC petition challenging criminal contempt withdrawn

Petitioners denied liberty to approach the apex court again, but are at liberty to file petition before HC

13 Aug 2020

Image Courtesy:nationalheraldindia.com

The petition challenging provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 filed by N Ram, Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan and Arun Shourie, has been withdrawn by the petitioners. Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhawan appearing for the petitioners, before a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, said, “At present many cases are before your lordships, so I don’t want this matter to get entangled with the others, or vice versa, this is not the appropriate stage to take this up. I seek liberty to file it at a later stage.” The same bench is hearing two contempt cases against Bhushan and the matter is pending. The case was initially listed before a bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and KM Joseph but was removed from that bench and moved to the bench led by Justice Mishra. The registry said that the case should have been listed before the Justice Mishra bench as it was considering the contempt case against Bhushan.

The petition challenged the constitutionality of the offence of ‘scandalising the court’ under section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 as being vague, arbitrary, subjective and leading to violation of fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. Criminal contempt is defined under the Act as:

publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which

(i) scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or

(ii) prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or

(iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner

The petition had argued that the offence of ‘scandalising the court’ failed the test of over-breadth; abridges the right to free speech in the absence of real and tangible harm and creates a ‘chilling effect’ on freedom of speech and expression. The petition further stated that the offence was rooted in colonial assumptions which have no place in a democracy. The petitioners further argued that the provision invited different readings and applications which made it vague and hence was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution which demands equal treatment and non-arbitrariness.

The petition juxtaposed two cases of criminal contempt, in which ‘scandalising the court’s was read into and interpreted differently. In PN Dua v. P Shiv Shankar, the respondent who was a Law Minster was held not guilty despite referring to apex court judges as “anti-social elements, FERA violators, bride burners and horde of reactionaries. While in DC Saxena vs. Chief Justice of India, the respondent was held guilty of criminal contempt for alleging that a Chief Justice was corrupt and that an FIR should be lodged against him.

The bench allowed the petitioners to withdraw the petition but without liberty to file it before the Supreme Court again. Hence, Dhavan sought liberty to file it before the High Court and the same was granted. “It’s an important issue, hence the question must be kept open and decided at the appropriate time,” said Dhavan, as reported by LiveLaw.

This petition was filed by the petitioners after the court initiated suo moto proceedings of contempt against Bhushan over two tweets posted by him about the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of India. The court has reserved orders in the case.

Related:

Prashant Bhushan contempt case: A mute hearing
Prashant Bhushan contempt case: Plea seeks permission to lead evidence
Chief Justice is not the court: Prashant Bhushan responds to contempt notice

SC petition challenging criminal contempt withdrawn

Petitioners denied liberty to approach the apex court again, but are at liberty to file petition before HC

Image Courtesy:nationalheraldindia.com

The petition challenging provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 filed by N Ram, Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan and Arun Shourie, has been withdrawn by the petitioners. Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhawan appearing for the petitioners, before a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, said, “At present many cases are before your lordships, so I don’t want this matter to get entangled with the others, or vice versa, this is not the appropriate stage to take this up. I seek liberty to file it at a later stage.” The same bench is hearing two contempt cases against Bhushan and the matter is pending. The case was initially listed before a bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and KM Joseph but was removed from that bench and moved to the bench led by Justice Mishra. The registry said that the case should have been listed before the Justice Mishra bench as it was considering the contempt case against Bhushan.

The petition challenged the constitutionality of the offence of ‘scandalising the court’ under section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 as being vague, arbitrary, subjective and leading to violation of fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. Criminal contempt is defined under the Act as:

publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which

(i) scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court; or

(ii) prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with, the due course of any judicial proceeding; or

(iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner

The petition had argued that the offence of ‘scandalising the court’ failed the test of over-breadth; abridges the right to free speech in the absence of real and tangible harm and creates a ‘chilling effect’ on freedom of speech and expression. The petition further stated that the offence was rooted in colonial assumptions which have no place in a democracy. The petitioners further argued that the provision invited different readings and applications which made it vague and hence was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution which demands equal treatment and non-arbitrariness.

The petition juxtaposed two cases of criminal contempt, in which ‘scandalising the court’s was read into and interpreted differently. In PN Dua v. P Shiv Shankar, the respondent who was a Law Minster was held not guilty despite referring to apex court judges as “anti-social elements, FERA violators, bride burners and horde of reactionaries. While in DC Saxena vs. Chief Justice of India, the respondent was held guilty of criminal contempt for alleging that a Chief Justice was corrupt and that an FIR should be lodged against him.

The bench allowed the petitioners to withdraw the petition but without liberty to file it before the Supreme Court again. Hence, Dhavan sought liberty to file it before the High Court and the same was granted. “It’s an important issue, hence the question must be kept open and decided at the appropriate time,” said Dhavan, as reported by LiveLaw.

This petition was filed by the petitioners after the court initiated suo moto proceedings of contempt against Bhushan over two tweets posted by him about the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of India. The court has reserved orders in the case.

Related:

Prashant Bhushan contempt case: A mute hearing
Prashant Bhushan contempt case: Plea seeks permission to lead evidence
Chief Justice is not the court: Prashant Bhushan responds to contempt notice

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

J&K: 4G will be restored on trial basis in two districts for limited period

This submission was made in SC after the court pushed the Centre to make a decision on restoration of 4G

13 Aug 2020

Image Courtesy: kashmirreader.com

Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal has submitted to the Supreme Court on August 11 that the Special Committee formed for the purpose of considering restoration of 4G services in Jammu and Kashmir has opined that the situation is not yet conducive for complete restoration. This submission was made before a bench headed by Justice NV Ramana during a hearing of the contempt petition filed by Foundation for Media Professionals which was one of the petitioners in the case seeking restoration of 4G in the Union Territory.

The contempt petition was filed alleging that the government had failed to set up a Special Committee led by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) secretary to review the situation and consider the alternatives suggested by the petitioners, as directed by the Supreme Court in its May 11 judgment.

Legal news website LiveLaw reported that the AG submitted that a meeting of the Special Committee had taken place on August 10, a day before the hearing, and had concluded that the threat perception continued to be high in the UT and was hence not conducive for restoration of 4G internet services. However, a calibrated view was taken that internet services could be restored on a trial basis. “The committee has also stated that high speed internet could be restored in certain areas with strict monitoring. The area should have low threshold of terrorist activities,” submitted the AG.

He further submitted that trial basis meant restoration of 4G internet in one district each in Jammu region and Kashmir region after August 15, which will be monitored by the Committee over a period of 7 days and will review the situation in 2 months.

Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the petitioner raised some concerns, “This is definitely a step forward. Certain concerns, however, remain. The aspects of non-compliance have been brought out by me. Issues with regard to non-publication of orders also remain. Your lordships may adjourn these proceedings for a month forward, I won’t press the contempt. Let’s see how things go”.

Ahmadi pushed for keeping the proceedings in the Interlocutory Applications to be kept pending despite Justice Ramana’s insistence that the issue of non-publication of orders would be taken care of.

Hence, Justice Ramana addressed Ahmadi’s concern that the review orders were not in the public domain and directed respondents to file a reply to the IA within 2 weeks.

At the last hearing, Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the petitioner, informed the court that the Lt. Governor of Jammu and Kashmir was of the opinion that 4G internet should be restored. The Centre had then stated that it needed to verify these statements. Last week, the Lt. Governor Girish Chandra Murmu, former IAS officer submitted his resignation and BJP leader Manoj Sinha was picked for the position.

Related:

10 reasons why Kashmiri Pandits feel betrayed in the Valley
Time has come to go on fast unto death: Sanjay Tickoo
Kashmir’s politics, social fabric, economy is battered, silenced, imprisoned: Anuradha Bhasin 

J&K: 4G will be restored on trial basis in two districts for limited period

This submission was made in SC after the court pushed the Centre to make a decision on restoration of 4G

Image Courtesy: kashmirreader.com

Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal has submitted to the Supreme Court on August 11 that the Special Committee formed for the purpose of considering restoration of 4G services in Jammu and Kashmir has opined that the situation is not yet conducive for complete restoration. This submission was made before a bench headed by Justice NV Ramana during a hearing of the contempt petition filed by Foundation for Media Professionals which was one of the petitioners in the case seeking restoration of 4G in the Union Territory.

The contempt petition was filed alleging that the government had failed to set up a Special Committee led by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) secretary to review the situation and consider the alternatives suggested by the petitioners, as directed by the Supreme Court in its May 11 judgment.

Legal news website LiveLaw reported that the AG submitted that a meeting of the Special Committee had taken place on August 10, a day before the hearing, and had concluded that the threat perception continued to be high in the UT and was hence not conducive for restoration of 4G internet services. However, a calibrated view was taken that internet services could be restored on a trial basis. “The committee has also stated that high speed internet could be restored in certain areas with strict monitoring. The area should have low threshold of terrorist activities,” submitted the AG.

He further submitted that trial basis meant restoration of 4G internet in one district each in Jammu region and Kashmir region after August 15, which will be monitored by the Committee over a period of 7 days and will review the situation in 2 months.

Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the petitioner raised some concerns, “This is definitely a step forward. Certain concerns, however, remain. The aspects of non-compliance have been brought out by me. Issues with regard to non-publication of orders also remain. Your lordships may adjourn these proceedings for a month forward, I won’t press the contempt. Let’s see how things go”.

Ahmadi pushed for keeping the proceedings in the Interlocutory Applications to be kept pending despite Justice Ramana’s insistence that the issue of non-publication of orders would be taken care of.

Hence, Justice Ramana addressed Ahmadi’s concern that the review orders were not in the public domain and directed respondents to file a reply to the IA within 2 weeks.

At the last hearing, Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the petitioner, informed the court that the Lt. Governor of Jammu and Kashmir was of the opinion that 4G internet should be restored. The Centre had then stated that it needed to verify these statements. Last week, the Lt. Governor Girish Chandra Murmu, former IAS officer submitted his resignation and BJP leader Manoj Sinha was picked for the position.

Related:

10 reasons why Kashmiri Pandits feel betrayed in the Valley
Time has come to go on fast unto death: Sanjay Tickoo
Kashmir’s politics, social fabric, economy is battered, silenced, imprisoned: Anuradha Bhasin 

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Officers investigating Bhima Koregaon, NE Delhi riots get Home Minister’s Medal for Excellence

Union Home Minister’s Medal for Excellence in Investigation, 2020, winners include Dy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Rajesh Deo,Vikram Khalate, SP, NIA, 

13 Aug 2020

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Rajesh Deo and Vikram Khalate
Image: The Wire
 

The Union Home Minister’s Medal for Excellence in Investigation for the year 2020 has been awarded to 121 police personnel. This announcement was put on the public page of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) on August 12. The medal stated the PIB, “was constituted in 2018 with the objective to promote high professional standards of investigation of crime and to recognize such Excellence in Investigation by investigating officers. Among the personnel receiving these awards, 15 are from CBI, 10 each are from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra Police, 8 are from Uttar Pradesh Police, 7 each are from Kerala and West Bengal Police, and the remaining from the other States/UTs. These include twenty one (21) women police officers.”

However, the list did not detail the specific cases for which the Home Minister’s Medal for Excellence in Investigation was awarded. Later media reports brought to light that the awardees include senior police officers who are probing cases related to the Delhi communal violence and also those related to Bhima Koregaon.

Among the 121 recipients of the award, reported the news portal Scroll, are Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Rajesh Deo and Vikram Khalate, Superintendent of Police, NIA. It is noteworthy that Deo leads the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that is investigating the cases related to the communal violence that broke out in North East Delhi in February 2020. 

SabrangIndia had reported then, that the investigation being given to Deo is seen as contentious because the Election Commission of India (ECI) had taken strict action against him a month before he was given this assignment. Deo had barred him from the Delhi Assembly Election duty, as he had then reportedly suggested that East Delhi resident Kapil Baisala who had fired in the air near Shaheen Bagh, the site of the anti – Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests, had links with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). He had released photos to the media of a man resembling Baisala with AAP leaders and had also alleged that both, Kapil and his father Gajendra Singh, had joined the AAP last year.

The EC had then noted that Deo’s statements, “referring to a political party”, especially when investigations were “still going on”, could “adversely” impact the free and fair elections, and removed him from election duties.  

As reported by the media regularly, investigations into the North East Delhi violence have so far failed to identify the actual perpetrators of violence, despite multiple independent fact-finding reports unearthing several disturbing facts, especially those pertaining to information about the alleged religious and political affiliation of these perpetrators of violence. The only action taken is against known dissenters and activists. Several of them have been questioned if not arrested on trumped up charges, the key allegation against them being that of instigating the violence. 

In fact, the Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana had reprimanded the Delhi Police for its failure to get CCTV footage and pictures from photographers present at Jafrabad and Maujpur Metro stations, as essential evidence needed for the investigations. This was observed by the court while extending the judicial custody of Pinjra Tod activists Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, and former Congress municipal councillor Ishrat Jahan till August 14. They are being investigated by the Delhi Police Special Cell in a UAPA case pertaining to the Delhi riots.

In a congratulatory tweet, home minister Amit Shah said, “A thorough investigation plays a pivotal role in delivering justice. I congratulate all the recipients of the ‘Medal for Excellence in Investigation-2020’. This is a recognition of the outstanding service and commitment of our police personnel. India is proud of them!“. 

 

 

Meanwhile, another prominent name on the list of awardees is that of Vikram Khalate, Superintendent of Police, NIA. He is leading the investigation into the Bhima Koregaon violence in 2018. Those accused in the related cases include civil rights activists and writers, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha, all charged under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

In January, Front Line Defenders, an international human rights organisation that highlights the plight of human rights activists and defenders facing persecution from hostile regimes, came out in support of those facing prosecution in the Bhima Koregaon case. They questioned the motives of the central government in transferring the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), especially given the timing of the transfer. Front Line Defenders issued a statement saying that the transfer of the case to the NIA, in which nine human rights defenders – Sudha Bhardwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Surendra Gadling are in detention, is seen as an attempt to maintain control over the political narrative on this case.

In the case of the oldest accused, 80-year-old poet Varavara Rao who is under treatment for Covid-19 and other ailments, the NIA had suggested that he was “ trying to take undue benefit of the pandemic and his old age and seeking bail.” The NIA made these remarks in its submission before the Bombay High Court, and got sharp criticism for it. Activist and writer Lalita Ramdas had slammed the NIA for suggesting that and said, she was “Stunned. Speechless. And Ashamed that this is happening in our greatest, largest, democracy?” She added that “every regime has been complicit,” in this.

The complete list of awardees can be accessed here

The list also includes the CBI officer who cracked murder case of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, reported Times News Network, murder case. The TNN recalled that it was ASP Subhash Ramrup Singh, who had recovered the weapon used to shoot and murder rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, at Pune in 2013. The investigation had also turned up clues about the murders of Kannada writer M M Kalburgi , journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh and communist leader Govind Pansare. Another awardee is Inspector Perwez Alam from Ranchi, who solved the murder of engineering student Jaya Bharti.  Alam and team scanned through over 300 numbers, questioned 150 people, and collected 11 blood samples to zero in on the rapist and murderer. Inspector Vibha Kumari who investigated the infamous Muzaffarpur shelter home abuse was also awarded.
 

Related: 

Hope probe focuses on real perpetrators of Delhi violence: Prof Apoorvanand

Bhima-Koregaon case transferred to NIA to compromise independent probe: Front Line Stunned, speechless and ashamed: Lalita Ramdas reacts to NIA comments

Delhi riots transferred to SITs headed by controversial officers including one barred 

Is Delhi Police hiding key information, documents of riot cases?

Delhi Violence case: Court reprimands police for failure to get video footage

Delhi HC again adjourns petition about police accountability for ‘indiscriminate

 

Officers investigating Bhima Koregaon, NE Delhi riots get Home Minister’s Medal for Excellence

Union Home Minister’s Medal for Excellence in Investigation, 2020, winners include Dy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Rajesh Deo,Vikram Khalate, SP, NIA, 

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Rajesh Deo and Vikram Khalate
Image: The Wire
 

The Union Home Minister’s Medal for Excellence in Investigation for the year 2020 has been awarded to 121 police personnel. This announcement was put on the public page of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) on August 12. The medal stated the PIB, “was constituted in 2018 with the objective to promote high professional standards of investigation of crime and to recognize such Excellence in Investigation by investigating officers. Among the personnel receiving these awards, 15 are from CBI, 10 each are from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra Police, 8 are from Uttar Pradesh Police, 7 each are from Kerala and West Bengal Police, and the remaining from the other States/UTs. These include twenty one (21) women police officers.”

However, the list did not detail the specific cases for which the Home Minister’s Medal for Excellence in Investigation was awarded. Later media reports brought to light that the awardees include senior police officers who are probing cases related to the Delhi communal violence and also those related to Bhima Koregaon.

Among the 121 recipients of the award, reported the news portal Scroll, are Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Rajesh Deo and Vikram Khalate, Superintendent of Police, NIA. It is noteworthy that Deo leads the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that is investigating the cases related to the communal violence that broke out in North East Delhi in February 2020. 

SabrangIndia had reported then, that the investigation being given to Deo is seen as contentious because the Election Commission of India (ECI) had taken strict action against him a month before he was given this assignment. Deo had barred him from the Delhi Assembly Election duty, as he had then reportedly suggested that East Delhi resident Kapil Baisala who had fired in the air near Shaheen Bagh, the site of the anti – Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests, had links with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). He had released photos to the media of a man resembling Baisala with AAP leaders and had also alleged that both, Kapil and his father Gajendra Singh, had joined the AAP last year.

The EC had then noted that Deo’s statements, “referring to a political party”, especially when investigations were “still going on”, could “adversely” impact the free and fair elections, and removed him from election duties.  

As reported by the media regularly, investigations into the North East Delhi violence have so far failed to identify the actual perpetrators of violence, despite multiple independent fact-finding reports unearthing several disturbing facts, especially those pertaining to information about the alleged religious and political affiliation of these perpetrators of violence. The only action taken is against known dissenters and activists. Several of them have been questioned if not arrested on trumped up charges, the key allegation against them being that of instigating the violence. 

In fact, the Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana had reprimanded the Delhi Police for its failure to get CCTV footage and pictures from photographers present at Jafrabad and Maujpur Metro stations, as essential evidence needed for the investigations. This was observed by the court while extending the judicial custody of Pinjra Tod activists Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, and former Congress municipal councillor Ishrat Jahan till August 14. They are being investigated by the Delhi Police Special Cell in a UAPA case pertaining to the Delhi riots.

In a congratulatory tweet, home minister Amit Shah said, “A thorough investigation plays a pivotal role in delivering justice. I congratulate all the recipients of the ‘Medal for Excellence in Investigation-2020’. This is a recognition of the outstanding service and commitment of our police personnel. India is proud of them!“. 

 

 

Meanwhile, another prominent name on the list of awardees is that of Vikram Khalate, Superintendent of Police, NIA. He is leading the investigation into the Bhima Koregaon violence in 2018. Those accused in the related cases include civil rights activists and writers, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha, all charged under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

In January, Front Line Defenders, an international human rights organisation that highlights the plight of human rights activists and defenders facing persecution from hostile regimes, came out in support of those facing prosecution in the Bhima Koregaon case. They questioned the motives of the central government in transferring the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), especially given the timing of the transfer. Front Line Defenders issued a statement saying that the transfer of the case to the NIA, in which nine human rights defenders – Sudha Bhardwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Surendra Gadling are in detention, is seen as an attempt to maintain control over the political narrative on this case.

In the case of the oldest accused, 80-year-old poet Varavara Rao who is under treatment for Covid-19 and other ailments, the NIA had suggested that he was “ trying to take undue benefit of the pandemic and his old age and seeking bail.” The NIA made these remarks in its submission before the Bombay High Court, and got sharp criticism for it. Activist and writer Lalita Ramdas had slammed the NIA for suggesting that and said, she was “Stunned. Speechless. And Ashamed that this is happening in our greatest, largest, democracy?” She added that “every regime has been complicit,” in this.

The complete list of awardees can be accessed here

The list also includes the CBI officer who cracked murder case of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, reported Times News Network, murder case. The TNN recalled that it was ASP Subhash Ramrup Singh, who had recovered the weapon used to shoot and murder rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, at Pune in 2013. The investigation had also turned up clues about the murders of Kannada writer M M Kalburgi , journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh and communist leader Govind Pansare. Another awardee is Inspector Perwez Alam from Ranchi, who solved the murder of engineering student Jaya Bharti.  Alam and team scanned through over 300 numbers, questioned 150 people, and collected 11 blood samples to zero in on the rapist and murderer. Inspector Vibha Kumari who investigated the infamous Muzaffarpur shelter home abuse was also awarded.
 

Related: 

Hope probe focuses on real perpetrators of Delhi violence: Prof Apoorvanand

Bhima-Koregaon case transferred to NIA to compromise independent probe: Front Line Stunned, speechless and ashamed: Lalita Ramdas reacts to NIA comments

Delhi riots transferred to SITs headed by controversial officers including one barred 

Is Delhi Police hiding key information, documents of riot cases?

Delhi Violence case: Court reprimands police for failure to get video footage

Delhi HC again adjourns petition about police accountability for ‘indiscriminate

 

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Tablighi Jamaat: K’taka HC conditionally quashes criminal cases against 9 foreigners

They are to leave the country immediately and not to return to India for a decade

13 Aug 2020

Tablighi Jamaat: K’taka HC conditionally quashes criminal cases against 9 foreigners

The Karnataka High Court has quashed criminal proceedings against foreigners who had visited India and attended Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi, on the condition that they leave the country immediately and give an undertaking that they will not visit India for another decade. The single judge bench of Justice Krishna Dixit, in its order dated August 5, also directed the nine foreign nationals to pay the fine amount as may be levied by the competent authority in India.

These foreign nationals were booked mostly under section 14(a) [Penalty for entry in restricted areas] and 14(c) [penalty for abetment] of the Foreigners Act, 1946.

The counsel for the petitioners contended that the criminal proceedings were based on a demonstrably wrong premise that they are all tourist visas, which is not the case. He further argued that there is no prohibition for professing and propagating the principles of Tablighi Jamaat in a religious gathering. He also pointed out that the Central government has the power to relieve the foreigners of criminal action after accepting fine amounts  in terms of extant norms and therefore, that benefit should be extended to the accused.

The Public Prosecutor objected to the plea stating that the foreign nationals had clandestinely entered India tourist visas instead of missionary visas and were engaged in propagation of Tablighi principles in breach of visa conditions thus violating provisions of Foreigners Act.

The court read through the visa categories mentioned in the Visa manual and concluded that the visa of the foreign nationals fell under the category of e-tourist visa and not the missionary visa. Para 87 of the Visa Manual provides for grant of Missionary Visa to a foreigner whose sole objective of visiting India is missionary work not involving proselytisation (conversion). The court rejected the contention of the petitioners that since preaching religious principles was not impermissible under the tourist visa category, the petitioners cannot be held liable. The court held that what is not provided for in the visa is deemed to be impermissible and further stated that the general principle that what all is not prohibited is permissible for a natural person and what all is not provided for is impermissible for a juristic person cannot be invoked by foreign nationals in visa matters.

The petitioners also relied upon previous judgements of the Karnataka High Court while contending that “intended prosecution is not desirable since it would eventually result into overstaying of the foreign nationals at the cost of the exchequer”. The court opined that even though these judgments cannot be said to be precedents since no legal principles have been laid down therein, seeking parity of treatment for petitioners was justified as they were similarly circumstanced.

The respondents suggested that the court prescribe similar conditions while quashing the case as stipulated by Madras High Court in Md. Kamcual Islam and ors v. State [2020 SCC Online Mad 1171] wherein in Tablighi foreigners were permitted to leave the country immediately with the rider that they would not come back again for a period of next ten years and further they should pay the fines to be levied by the competent authorities while reserving their liberty for blacklisting or placing them in the category of Visa violators.

The court also rejected the petitioners’ contention that the criminal proceedings were initiated by the police in response to the prejudice generated by the media propaganda and stated that the perusal of the case files and material therein gives a “legitimate impression that the police having stood tall, exercised a lot of restraint despite running a huge risk of Covid-19 infection and tolerating the attack/assault by the miscreants; this court will be failing in its duty if it does not place on record a deep appreciation of the State Police for their yeoman service being rendered during Covid crisis.”

The court also refused to quash proceedings against the native accused who were also charged with certain sections of the Indian Penal Code, Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act that have been invoked under the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Karnataka High Court quashed criminal proceedings against foreigners, to meet the ends of justice, , on the condition that they leave the country immediately and give an undertaking that they will not visit India for another decade; while directing the police to resume investigation in the cases where native persons are accused.

The complete order may be read here.


Related:

Foreign attendees of Tablighi Jamaat Markaz pay small fine, may go home soon

Tablighi Jamaat: HCs come to the rescue of foreign nationals, grant bail, ask govts to avoid criminal trial

Don’t let people instigate law and order issues: SC on communalisation of Covid-19

 

 

Tablighi Jamaat: K’taka HC conditionally quashes criminal cases against 9 foreigners

They are to leave the country immediately and not to return to India for a decade

Tablighi Jamaat: K’taka HC conditionally quashes criminal cases against 9 foreigners

The Karnataka High Court has quashed criminal proceedings against foreigners who had visited India and attended Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi, on the condition that they leave the country immediately and give an undertaking that they will not visit India for another decade. The single judge bench of Justice Krishna Dixit, in its order dated August 5, also directed the nine foreign nationals to pay the fine amount as may be levied by the competent authority in India.

These foreign nationals were booked mostly under section 14(a) [Penalty for entry in restricted areas] and 14(c) [penalty for abetment] of the Foreigners Act, 1946.

The counsel for the petitioners contended that the criminal proceedings were based on a demonstrably wrong premise that they are all tourist visas, which is not the case. He further argued that there is no prohibition for professing and propagating the principles of Tablighi Jamaat in a religious gathering. He also pointed out that the Central government has the power to relieve the foreigners of criminal action after accepting fine amounts  in terms of extant norms and therefore, that benefit should be extended to the accused.

The Public Prosecutor objected to the plea stating that the foreign nationals had clandestinely entered India tourist visas instead of missionary visas and were engaged in propagation of Tablighi principles in breach of visa conditions thus violating provisions of Foreigners Act.

The court read through the visa categories mentioned in the Visa manual and concluded that the visa of the foreign nationals fell under the category of e-tourist visa and not the missionary visa. Para 87 of the Visa Manual provides for grant of Missionary Visa to a foreigner whose sole objective of visiting India is missionary work not involving proselytisation (conversion). The court rejected the contention of the petitioners that since preaching religious principles was not impermissible under the tourist visa category, the petitioners cannot be held liable. The court held that what is not provided for in the visa is deemed to be impermissible and further stated that the general principle that what all is not prohibited is permissible for a natural person and what all is not provided for is impermissible for a juristic person cannot be invoked by foreign nationals in visa matters.

The petitioners also relied upon previous judgements of the Karnataka High Court while contending that “intended prosecution is not desirable since it would eventually result into overstaying of the foreign nationals at the cost of the exchequer”. The court opined that even though these judgments cannot be said to be precedents since no legal principles have been laid down therein, seeking parity of treatment for petitioners was justified as they were similarly circumstanced.

The respondents suggested that the court prescribe similar conditions while quashing the case as stipulated by Madras High Court in Md. Kamcual Islam and ors v. State [2020 SCC Online Mad 1171] wherein in Tablighi foreigners were permitted to leave the country immediately with the rider that they would not come back again for a period of next ten years and further they should pay the fines to be levied by the competent authorities while reserving their liberty for blacklisting or placing them in the category of Visa violators.

The court also rejected the petitioners’ contention that the criminal proceedings were initiated by the police in response to the prejudice generated by the media propaganda and stated that the perusal of the case files and material therein gives a “legitimate impression that the police having stood tall, exercised a lot of restraint despite running a huge risk of Covid-19 infection and tolerating the attack/assault by the miscreants; this court will be failing in its duty if it does not place on record a deep appreciation of the State Police for their yeoman service being rendered during Covid crisis.”

The court also refused to quash proceedings against the native accused who were also charged with certain sections of the Indian Penal Code, Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act that have been invoked under the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Karnataka High Court quashed criminal proceedings against foreigners, to meet the ends of justice, , on the condition that they leave the country immediately and give an undertaking that they will not visit India for another decade; while directing the police to resume investigation in the cases where native persons are accused.

The complete order may be read here.


Related:

Foreign attendees of Tablighi Jamaat Markaz pay small fine, may go home soon

Tablighi Jamaat: HCs come to the rescue of foreign nationals, grant bail, ask govts to avoid criminal trial

Don’t let people instigate law and order issues: SC on communalisation of Covid-19

 

 

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

No FIR yet, but Delhi Police sends rejoinder to journalists who were attacked

Media organisations including CPJ, PCI, BJU, NWMI demand FIR, action against culprits

13 Aug 2020

attack on journalist

In a bizarre reaction to serious allegations, the Delhi Police, which is yet to register a first information report (FIR) into a violent attack on three journalists in the National Capital on August 11, has now sent a rejoinder to The Caravan magazine. 

On the day of the attack, the police had received lengthy written complaints by the three working journalists who were attacked, threatened with murder and sexualy assauted while doing their work. It had reportedly said that it needed to hear the ‘other side’ of the story from the mob accused of targeting the journalists. The assaulted journalists had written the detailed complaint as soon as they managed to escape the mob and reach the Bhajanpura Police Station. The woman journalist, who was beaten, and sexually harassed, had written a separate complaint, detailing  the trauma she underwent. 

Even two days after this, the Delhi Police is yet to lodge an official, first information report, the first step in a police investigation. Instead, it has sent a lengthy rejoinder on August 12, to the magazine and said the journalists’ original report about the happenings at North East Delhi, and the police station was false. 

This police rejoinder, signed by Dr. Eish Singhal IPS, the Delhi Police Public Relations Officer (PRO) alleged that the The Caravan journalists who were following up on their own reports from the area were “taking pictures which led to heated exchange of words between media persons and local people.” According to the PRO’s statement, “Police personnel acted swiftly and brought media persons to the police station. Taking pictures without consent may provoke those present and create Law and Order problems including communal problems.”

There is no mention of the assault, allegations made by journalists Shahid Tantray, Prabhjit Singh who were threatened with murder, abused with communal slurs, and badly beaten. The woman journalist was sexually harassed. The woman journalist wrote in her police complaint that the men were “making cheap and lewd comments and started saying ‘Dikhao, dikhao’” (Show, show.) She added that “a middle-aged man in a dhoti and a white T-shirt, with a bald head and a slim pony-tail stood in front of me. He then opened his dhoti and exposed his genitals while looking at me. He proceeded to shake his penis with his hand and started making objectionable and lewd expressions, while laughing at me.”

However, Delhi Police has responded that a cross-allegation was also made by a woman from the Subhash Mohalla locality. It stated, “journalists of Caravan and a lady of the locality had given cross complaints which are being enquired into and appropriate legal action will be taken on conclusion of the enquiry.”

Even as the three affected journalists continue to seek that an FIR be registered, and have been backed by media organisations including, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists, Press Club of India, and Network of Women in Media. But the Delhi Police maintains that it is “doing its work in a professional, free and impartial manner.  Enquiry or investigation is being conducted in right earnest on all the matters received in the police station. Appropriate legal or preventive action is taken on any complaint received in the police station as per law and procedures irrespective of faith or religion of the complainant. To suggest otherwise, is a deliberate attempt to malign Delhi Police’s image and is totally biased and unsubstantiated.”

The  Full Text of Delhi Police’s rejoinder may be read here:



12/08/2020 

OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, DELHI.

No.  517             /PRO/PHQ  dated  Delhi,  the   12 .08.2020 .

To

The Editor,

The Caravan Magazine,

E-mail: editor.thecaravan@delhipress.in

 

Subject:-  Rejoinder to the captioned news item-“Delhi Police beat and sexually assaulted us in Bhajanpura station: Riots complainant and daughter “ published on 10 August 2020.

Sir,

 

At the outset, It is stated that,the allegations of sexual assault is an irresponsible statement and it is vehemently denied that any women or a child were physically or otherwise assaulted in the premises of Police Station Bhajanpura in the night of 8th August, 2020 .

Facts of the matter are that on 8.8.2020, the complainant namely Ms Sanno w/o Salim r/o B-403, Gali No. 01, Subhash Vihar, Delhi along with 8-10 other ladies came to the police station Bhajanpura and handed over complaints regarding bursting of crackers, lighting of the lamps and installing of saffron flags at iron gate in Subhash Vihar, Delhi on 05.08.2020 while celebrating foundation stone laying  ceremony of Ram Temple, Ayodhya. The complaints were received vide DD No. 116, 119 and 121 and assigned to SI Vedpal for verifying the facts of the complaint. But Sanno w/o Salim sought immediate registration of FIR on her complaint. She started abusing police staff and threatened that she was sent by advocate Mahmood Pracha and said, either police should register FIR at once or she would stage Dharna on the gate of Police Station.

Sanno and others were assured by police officials that necessary action would be taken on their complaints and were advised that due to Covid-19 guidelines, no one should unnecessary stay at public places . After a lot of persuasion, they left the police station.

At about 11:30PM on 8.8.2020, Sanno made a PCR call that she and her daughters were beaten and molested by police officers of Bhajanpura. Delhi Police denies  these allegations. These are utterly false and motivated. No such incident had happened in Police Station nor was any injury reported.  No manhandling was done with either of the complainant or ladies present in the police station. The woman staff present at the Women help desk has denied any such incident of manhandling by police staff of PS Bhajanpura in whose presence ladies were attended to. The shopkeepers in front of police station have also denied any manhandling of the complainant and other ladies. Besides, the neighbours of the complainant have also denied any sort of instigation on part of any community owing to the Ram Temple foundation ceremony. 

The allegations have been levelled with ulterior motives and are totally baseless. 

As far as the security and safety of the complainant are concerned, mobile phones of SHO Bhajanpura and beat staff have been shared with her to contact them in case of any emergency. The beat staff regularly visits her place and DD entries are also being made in this regard.

In another incident on 11.08.2020, The media persons of caravan had gone to Subhash Mohalla to cover the alleged incident of 05.08.2020 and 08.08.2020 and also North East Delhi riots. They were taking pictures which led to heated exchange of words between media persons and local people.. Police personnel acted swiftly and brought media persons  to police station. Taking pictures without consent may provoke those present and create Law and Order problems including communal problems.

Journalists of carvan and a  lady of the  locality had given cross complaints which are being enquired into and appropriate legal action will be taken on conclusion of the enquiry.

 The police is doing its work in a professional, free and impartial manner.  Enquiry or investigation isbeing conducted in right earnest on all the matters received in the police station. Appropriate legal or preventive action is taken on any complaint received in the police station as per law and procedures irrespective of faith or religion of the complainant. To suggest otherwise, is a deliberate attempt to malign Delhi Police’s image and is totally biased and unsubstantiated.

In view of the facts elucidated above ,it is requested that this rejoinder may be taken into consideration and be published with equal prominence for your esteemed readers in right prospective.


Yours faithfully,

 (DR. EISH SINGHAL) IPS                                                                                Public Relations Officer,

Delhi Police, Delhi

 

Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, has released a statement condemning the attack on the journalists and demanding immediate action against the culprits. The CPJ also noted that one of the attackers identified himself as an official from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists (BUJ) has also strongly condemned the assault and stated that it “deplores the breakdown of law and order in the national capital. It is shocking and reprehensible that no FIR has been lodged as yet by Delhi police, according total impunity to those who perpetrated this dastardly attack.”  The union has  demanded “that an FIR be registered and the culprits booked immediately,” and extended its “solidarity and support to the journalists attacked and affirms its commitment to fight for protecting the right of all journalists, irrespective of their caste, religious identity, community or gender, to report freely, without fear or favour.”

The Press Club of India issued a statement condemning the attack and demanded an FIR and judicial probe by the Delhi government. The PCI has reminded the authorities that the areas of Northeast Delhi the reporters were at, have also witnessed “planned communal violence had occurred in February this year instigated and executed by elements enjoying the patronage of politically powerful elements.” 

It added that, “The police on duty eventually took the three journalists to the Bhajanpura police station for their safety but did not prevent the assault on them. Nor did it make any effort to deter the attackers. This amounts to failure of police to protect law abiding citizens from aggressive groups, and can only further encourage criminal and communal elements.”

“This is unprecedented, in 25 years of journalism I have not encountered this level of public depravity,” added Hartosh Singh Bal, the magazine’s political editor, “If mobs can decide on who will report on them and how, if identity becomes the marker of journalistic credibility, if violence is the response to reporting and institutions fail to act by the law, then it is not just the media which becomes unviable, so does constitutional democracy.”


Related: 

Caravan journalists attacked viciously by murderous mob in Northeast Delhi  

Bengaluru riot: 3 dead, journalists beaten up by cops

Hate offender Kapil Mishra accuses renowned journalists for biased reportage of Delhi violence

UN takes closer look at attacks on women journalists

Police probe ordered by NHRC into death threats on journalist: Sultanpur rape case

BBC journalist illegally detained in UP, HRDA writes to NHRC

Journalism is a hazardous profession in Uttar Pradesh

No FIR yet, but Delhi Police sends rejoinder to journalists who were attacked

Media organisations including CPJ, PCI, BJU, NWMI demand FIR, action against culprits

attack on journalist

In a bizarre reaction to serious allegations, the Delhi Police, which is yet to register a first information report (FIR) into a violent attack on three journalists in the National Capital on August 11, has now sent a rejoinder to The Caravan magazine. 

On the day of the attack, the police had received lengthy written complaints by the three working journalists who were attacked, threatened with murder and sexualy assauted while doing their work. It had reportedly said that it needed to hear the ‘other side’ of the story from the mob accused of targeting the journalists. The assaulted journalists had written the detailed complaint as soon as they managed to escape the mob and reach the Bhajanpura Police Station. The woman journalist, who was beaten, and sexually harassed, had written a separate complaint, detailing  the trauma she underwent. 

Even two days after this, the Delhi Police is yet to lodge an official, first information report, the first step in a police investigation. Instead, it has sent a lengthy rejoinder on August 12, to the magazine and said the journalists’ original report about the happenings at North East Delhi, and the police station was false. 

This police rejoinder, signed by Dr. Eish Singhal IPS, the Delhi Police Public Relations Officer (PRO) alleged that the The Caravan journalists who were following up on their own reports from the area were “taking pictures which led to heated exchange of words between media persons and local people.” According to the PRO’s statement, “Police personnel acted swiftly and brought media persons to the police station. Taking pictures without consent may provoke those present and create Law and Order problems including communal problems.”

There is no mention of the assault, allegations made by journalists Shahid Tantray, Prabhjit Singh who were threatened with murder, abused with communal slurs, and badly beaten. The woman journalist was sexually harassed. The woman journalist wrote in her police complaint that the men were “making cheap and lewd comments and started saying ‘Dikhao, dikhao’” (Show, show.) She added that “a middle-aged man in a dhoti and a white T-shirt, with a bald head and a slim pony-tail stood in front of me. He then opened his dhoti and exposed his genitals while looking at me. He proceeded to shake his penis with his hand and started making objectionable and lewd expressions, while laughing at me.”

However, Delhi Police has responded that a cross-allegation was also made by a woman from the Subhash Mohalla locality. It stated, “journalists of Caravan and a lady of the locality had given cross complaints which are being enquired into and appropriate legal action will be taken on conclusion of the enquiry.”

Even as the three affected journalists continue to seek that an FIR be registered, and have been backed by media organisations including, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists, Press Club of India, and Network of Women in Media. But the Delhi Police maintains that it is “doing its work in a professional, free and impartial manner.  Enquiry or investigation is being conducted in right earnest on all the matters received in the police station. Appropriate legal or preventive action is taken on any complaint received in the police station as per law and procedures irrespective of faith or religion of the complainant. To suggest otherwise, is a deliberate attempt to malign Delhi Police’s image and is totally biased and unsubstantiated.”

The  Full Text of Delhi Police’s rejoinder may be read here:



12/08/2020 

OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, DELHI.

No.  517             /PRO/PHQ  dated  Delhi,  the   12 .08.2020 .

To

The Editor,

The Caravan Magazine,

E-mail: editor.thecaravan@delhipress.in

 

Subject:-  Rejoinder to the captioned news item-“Delhi Police beat and sexually assaulted us in Bhajanpura station: Riots complainant and daughter “ published on 10 August 2020.

Sir,

 

At the outset, It is stated that,the allegations of sexual assault is an irresponsible statement and it is vehemently denied that any women or a child were physically or otherwise assaulted in the premises of Police Station Bhajanpura in the night of 8th August, 2020 .

Facts of the matter are that on 8.8.2020, the complainant namely Ms Sanno w/o Salim r/o B-403, Gali No. 01, Subhash Vihar, Delhi along with 8-10 other ladies came to the police station Bhajanpura and handed over complaints regarding bursting of crackers, lighting of the lamps and installing of saffron flags at iron gate in Subhash Vihar, Delhi on 05.08.2020 while celebrating foundation stone laying  ceremony of Ram Temple, Ayodhya. The complaints were received vide DD No. 116, 119 and 121 and assigned to SI Vedpal for verifying the facts of the complaint. But Sanno w/o Salim sought immediate registration of FIR on her complaint. She started abusing police staff and threatened that she was sent by advocate Mahmood Pracha and said, either police should register FIR at once or she would stage Dharna on the gate of Police Station.

Sanno and others were assured by police officials that necessary action would be taken on their complaints and were advised that due to Covid-19 guidelines, no one should unnecessary stay at public places . After a lot of persuasion, they left the police station.

At about 11:30PM on 8.8.2020, Sanno made a PCR call that she and her daughters were beaten and molested by police officers of Bhajanpura. Delhi Police denies  these allegations. These are utterly false and motivated. No such incident had happened in Police Station nor was any injury reported.  No manhandling was done with either of the complainant or ladies present in the police station. The woman staff present at the Women help desk has denied any such incident of manhandling by police staff of PS Bhajanpura in whose presence ladies were attended to. The shopkeepers in front of police station have also denied any manhandling of the complainant and other ladies. Besides, the neighbours of the complainant have also denied any sort of instigation on part of any community owing to the Ram Temple foundation ceremony. 

The allegations have been levelled with ulterior motives and are totally baseless. 

As far as the security and safety of the complainant are concerned, mobile phones of SHO Bhajanpura and beat staff have been shared with her to contact them in case of any emergency. The beat staff regularly visits her place and DD entries are also being made in this regard.

In another incident on 11.08.2020, The media persons of caravan had gone to Subhash Mohalla to cover the alleged incident of 05.08.2020 and 08.08.2020 and also North East Delhi riots. They were taking pictures which led to heated exchange of words between media persons and local people.. Police personnel acted swiftly and brought media persons  to police station. Taking pictures without consent may provoke those present and create Law and Order problems including communal problems.

Journalists of carvan and a  lady of the  locality had given cross complaints which are being enquired into and appropriate legal action will be taken on conclusion of the enquiry.

 The police is doing its work in a professional, free and impartial manner.  Enquiry or investigation isbeing conducted in right earnest on all the matters received in the police station. Appropriate legal or preventive action is taken on any complaint received in the police station as per law and procedures irrespective of faith or religion of the complainant. To suggest otherwise, is a deliberate attempt to malign Delhi Police’s image and is totally biased and unsubstantiated.

In view of the facts elucidated above ,it is requested that this rejoinder may be taken into consideration and be published with equal prominence for your esteemed readers in right prospective.


Yours faithfully,

 (DR. EISH SINGHAL) IPS                                                                                Public Relations Officer,

Delhi Police, Delhi

 

Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, has released a statement condemning the attack on the journalists and demanding immediate action against the culprits. The CPJ also noted that one of the attackers identified himself as an official from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists (BUJ) has also strongly condemned the assault and stated that it “deplores the breakdown of law and order in the national capital. It is shocking and reprehensible that no FIR has been lodged as yet by Delhi police, according total impunity to those who perpetrated this dastardly attack.”  The union has  demanded “that an FIR be registered and the culprits booked immediately,” and extended its “solidarity and support to the journalists attacked and affirms its commitment to fight for protecting the right of all journalists, irrespective of their caste, religious identity, community or gender, to report freely, without fear or favour.”

The Press Club of India issued a statement condemning the attack and demanded an FIR and judicial probe by the Delhi government. The PCI has reminded the authorities that the areas of Northeast Delhi the reporters were at, have also witnessed “planned communal violence had occurred in February this year instigated and executed by elements enjoying the patronage of politically powerful elements.” 

It added that, “The police on duty eventually took the three journalists to the Bhajanpura police station for their safety but did not prevent the assault on them. Nor did it make any effort to deter the attackers. This amounts to failure of police to protect law abiding citizens from aggressive groups, and can only further encourage criminal and communal elements.”

“This is unprecedented, in 25 years of journalism I have not encountered this level of public depravity,” added Hartosh Singh Bal, the magazine’s political editor, “If mobs can decide on who will report on them and how, if identity becomes the marker of journalistic credibility, if violence is the response to reporting and institutions fail to act by the law, then it is not just the media which becomes unviable, so does constitutional democracy.”


Related: 

Caravan journalists attacked viciously by murderous mob in Northeast Delhi  

Bengaluru riot: 3 dead, journalists beaten up by cops

Hate offender Kapil Mishra accuses renowned journalists for biased reportage of Delhi violence

UN takes closer look at attacks on women journalists

Police probe ordered by NHRC into death threats on journalist: Sultanpur rape case

BBC journalist illegally detained in UP, HRDA writes to NHRC

Journalism is a hazardous profession in Uttar Pradesh

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Combat caste-based discrimination: IAAAC to US tech CEOs

Indian-American anti-caste group urges companies to include as a factor in training about diversity and inclusion

13 Aug 2020

Caste

The Indian American Alliance Against Caste (IAAAC), a coalition of the most prominent community-based organizations representing Dalits in the USA and other social justice organizations from the Indian diaspora, has in a letter to CEOs of 25 of the biggest tech firms in the US, urged for a proactive approach to addressing concerns related to caste-based discrimination.

The letter says, “Caste discrimination is as toxic and harmful as are race and gender-related discriminations. Neglecting it is tantamount to allowing your company to be a hostile workplace.”

IAAAC, in association with Ambedkar King Study Circle (AKSC), a community organization based in California working on issues of social justice for Dalits, has documented caste-based discrimination which has long been an unacknowledged problem in the US. According to their findings, “In Silicon Valley, or in any company with a significant workforce from India, some form of active caste discrimination may allow staff from dominant castes to exercise unfair privilege over those from non-dominant castes.”

The letter refers to the recent case against Cisco saying, “On June 30, 2020, the California Fair Housing and Employment office filed a case against Cisco in the federal court in San Jose. This landmark case, filed on behalf of an employee of Cisco, charges his immediate supervisors with discrimination allegedly against him on the basis of his caste. The employee and supervisors are all of Indian origin - the former belonging to the Dalit community, considered to be lowest in the caste hierarchy, and the two supervisors belonging to castes accorded a higher status. This demonstrates the spread to the US workplace of the Indian caste system, whose graded hierarchy of caste ranges from Brahmins at the top to Dalits, formerly called untouchable, at the bottom.”

The group has proposed a two-pronged approach to address the problem of caste discrimination in the workspace:

1. Include “protection from caste-based discrimination” in the workplace harassment policy.

2. Name caste as a factor in your bias training, and in diversity, inclusion and recruitment efforts.

“We aim to transform the American workplace into a safer and more productive space through this campaign,” said a spokesperson for the coalition and Ambedkar International Mission USA (AIM USA), an IAAAC member.

Mr. Selvaraj, Speaking on behalf of the Ambedkar King Study Circle, a Silicon Valley based Dalit community organization said, “As per the testimonials that we are receiving, casteism is widespread within the Indian community in US. It is time that our employers take note of this since it negatively impacts workplace morale, trust and synergy.”

Dr. Yengde, of Harvard University commenting on the launch of the campaign said, “Caste is always one of the last things that is acknowledged. Many Indians of the dominant caste lot are ready to support social justice issues around racism, homophobia, but do not acknowledge the casteism in our midst for which they are responsible. ‘Indians for BLM’ is their barter to ‘Indians against Casteism’. We are determined to have American companies do the right thing.”

Recipients of the letter include Tim Cook (CEO Apple), Satya Nadella, (CEO Microsoft), Sundar Pichai (CEO Alphabet Inc. and Google LLC) and Jeff Bezos (CEO Amazon) among others.

Related:

Christian groups demand justice for Dalit minorities

Dalit woman, son assaulted for refusing to pick up cow carcass in Gujarat

Thakurs deny Dalit woman cremation, police initiate probe

Combat caste-based discrimination: IAAAC to US tech CEOs

Indian-American anti-caste group urges companies to include as a factor in training about diversity and inclusion

Caste

The Indian American Alliance Against Caste (IAAAC), a coalition of the most prominent community-based organizations representing Dalits in the USA and other social justice organizations from the Indian diaspora, has in a letter to CEOs of 25 of the biggest tech firms in the US, urged for a proactive approach to addressing concerns related to caste-based discrimination.

The letter says, “Caste discrimination is as toxic and harmful as are race and gender-related discriminations. Neglecting it is tantamount to allowing your company to be a hostile workplace.”

IAAAC, in association with Ambedkar King Study Circle (AKSC), a community organization based in California working on issues of social justice for Dalits, has documented caste-based discrimination which has long been an unacknowledged problem in the US. According to their findings, “In Silicon Valley, or in any company with a significant workforce from India, some form of active caste discrimination may allow staff from dominant castes to exercise unfair privilege over those from non-dominant castes.”

The letter refers to the recent case against Cisco saying, “On June 30, 2020, the California Fair Housing and Employment office filed a case against Cisco in the federal court in San Jose. This landmark case, filed on behalf of an employee of Cisco, charges his immediate supervisors with discrimination allegedly against him on the basis of his caste. The employee and supervisors are all of Indian origin - the former belonging to the Dalit community, considered to be lowest in the caste hierarchy, and the two supervisors belonging to castes accorded a higher status. This demonstrates the spread to the US workplace of the Indian caste system, whose graded hierarchy of caste ranges from Brahmins at the top to Dalits, formerly called untouchable, at the bottom.”

The group has proposed a two-pronged approach to address the problem of caste discrimination in the workspace:

1. Include “protection from caste-based discrimination” in the workplace harassment policy.

2. Name caste as a factor in your bias training, and in diversity, inclusion and recruitment efforts.

“We aim to transform the American workplace into a safer and more productive space through this campaign,” said a spokesperson for the coalition and Ambedkar International Mission USA (AIM USA), an IAAAC member.

Mr. Selvaraj, Speaking on behalf of the Ambedkar King Study Circle, a Silicon Valley based Dalit community organization said, “As per the testimonials that we are receiving, casteism is widespread within the Indian community in US. It is time that our employers take note of this since it negatively impacts workplace morale, trust and synergy.”

Dr. Yengde, of Harvard University commenting on the launch of the campaign said, “Caste is always one of the last things that is acknowledged. Many Indians of the dominant caste lot are ready to support social justice issues around racism, homophobia, but do not acknowledge the casteism in our midst for which they are responsible. ‘Indians for BLM’ is their barter to ‘Indians against Casteism’. We are determined to have American companies do the right thing.”

Recipients of the letter include Tim Cook (CEO Apple), Satya Nadella, (CEO Microsoft), Sundar Pichai (CEO Alphabet Inc. and Google LLC) and Jeff Bezos (CEO Amazon) among others.

Related:

Christian groups demand justice for Dalit minorities

Dalit woman, son assaulted for refusing to pick up cow carcass in Gujarat

Thakurs deny Dalit woman cremation, police initiate probe

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Gram Panchayats in Maharashtra confused over multiple government orders on Gram Sabhas

The 3 different orders issued by the state government have left Panchayats confused on whether to convene the Gram Sabha on August 15 as is the practice every year

12 Aug 2020

Image Courtesy:lokmat.com

With just a few days left for August 15, India’s Independence Day, the Gram Sabhas in Maharashtra are in a state of confusion. This confusion has been created by some mixed instructions coming from the state government on the convening of the Gram Sabha meeting on Independence Day as is the practice in accordance with law. As per section 7 of the Maharashtra Gram Panchayat Act, 1959, Gram Panchayats are required to hold at least four Gram sabhas in every financial year. One of these meetings is held on August 15 every year. Failure to convene these meetings invites disciplinary action against the Sarpanch or Upa-Sarpanch as the case may be and the decision of the Collector in this regard is final.

There are three decisions from the government which have created this confusion. An order dated May 12 states, “Gram Sabhas have been postponed due to the emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic”. The Government Resolution of August 5 instructs, “prepare necessary labour budget for Employment Guarantee Scheme and discuss in the Gram Sabha on August 15 and get approval for the same”. The subsequent government order dated August 6 states, “As the women’s meeting of August 15 has been cancelled, Gram Panchayats should solve the problems of women by using digital technology like phone, Whatsapp, email”.

The August 6 order addresses subsection 5 of section 7 of the Act which states that meeting of women members of Gram Sabha shall be held before every regular meeting of the Gram Sabha.

A marathi daily Dainik Divya Marathi has reported that the confusion has arisen because Gram Sabhas have been put on hold since May 12 in order to maintain physical distancing in villages but the August 5 order directs that labour budget should be discussed during the August 15 Gram Sabha while subsequently mentioning that the women’s meeting shall not be held physically but their concerns may be addressed over Whatsapp or email. Hence, Gram Panchayats are unable to take a definite call on whether or not to convene the August 15 Sabha (meeting).

Some important matters are considered and decided during the August 15 Gram Sabha and hence it holds significance in rural Maharashtra. Tasks such as approving the annual action plan of the development works in the village, passing resolution for inclusion of development plan in District Planning Scheme, selection of beneficiaries, recommending names of beneficiaries of the village for various schemes are undertaken during the August 15 Gram Sabha.

Related:

Gram Sabha Resolution to aid defence of forest rights
Second Sarpanch shot dead in J&K in 48 hours; fourth such attack in two months
Sarpanch shot at, grenade lobbed at cops in J&K; officials deny violence!

Gram Panchayats in Maharashtra confused over multiple government orders on Gram Sabhas

The 3 different orders issued by the state government have left Panchayats confused on whether to convene the Gram Sabha on August 15 as is the practice every year

Image Courtesy:lokmat.com

With just a few days left for August 15, India’s Independence Day, the Gram Sabhas in Maharashtra are in a state of confusion. This confusion has been created by some mixed instructions coming from the state government on the convening of the Gram Sabha meeting on Independence Day as is the practice in accordance with law. As per section 7 of the Maharashtra Gram Panchayat Act, 1959, Gram Panchayats are required to hold at least four Gram sabhas in every financial year. One of these meetings is held on August 15 every year. Failure to convene these meetings invites disciplinary action against the Sarpanch or Upa-Sarpanch as the case may be and the decision of the Collector in this regard is final.

There are three decisions from the government which have created this confusion. An order dated May 12 states, “Gram Sabhas have been postponed due to the emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic”. The Government Resolution of August 5 instructs, “prepare necessary labour budget for Employment Guarantee Scheme and discuss in the Gram Sabha on August 15 and get approval for the same”. The subsequent government order dated August 6 states, “As the women’s meeting of August 15 has been cancelled, Gram Panchayats should solve the problems of women by using digital technology like phone, Whatsapp, email”.

The August 6 order addresses subsection 5 of section 7 of the Act which states that meeting of women members of Gram Sabha shall be held before every regular meeting of the Gram Sabha.

A marathi daily Dainik Divya Marathi has reported that the confusion has arisen because Gram Sabhas have been put on hold since May 12 in order to maintain physical distancing in villages but the August 5 order directs that labour budget should be discussed during the August 15 Gram Sabha while subsequently mentioning that the women’s meeting shall not be held physically but their concerns may be addressed over Whatsapp or email. Hence, Gram Panchayats are unable to take a definite call on whether or not to convene the August 15 Sabha (meeting).

Some important matters are considered and decided during the August 15 Gram Sabha and hence it holds significance in rural Maharashtra. Tasks such as approving the annual action plan of the development works in the village, passing resolution for inclusion of development plan in District Planning Scheme, selection of beneficiaries, recommending names of beneficiaries of the village for various schemes are undertaken during the August 15 Gram Sabha.

Related:

Gram Sabha Resolution to aid defence of forest rights
Second Sarpanch shot dead in J&K in 48 hours; fourth such attack in two months
Sarpanch shot at, grenade lobbed at cops in J&K; officials deny violence!

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Bengaluru riot: 3 dead, journalists beaten up by cops, vehicles gutted

Naveen, nephew of Congress MLA Srinivas Murthy, allegedly posted communal remarks on Facebook, setting of a night of violence, arson, deaths

12 Aug 2020

communal violence

A communally derogatory social media post allegedly by a man identified as Naveen, ignited a massive communal riot on Tuesday in Bengaluru, the city that brands itself as the IT capital of the nation. Naveen is said to be the nephew of Congress MLA Srinivas Murthy, and allegedly made a provocative post about Prophet Mohammed's family on Facebook. He has been arrested, but the riots he caused have resulted in the death of three people. The MLA's house was also surrounded and vandalised by the mob. 

The riots broke out in DG Halli and KG Halli areas in the eastern part of Bengaluru. According to news reports, the mob also vandalised a police station and the residence of a Congress MLA. Around 60 police personnel have been left injured after being attacked by the mob, reported NDTV. The police have rounded-up145 people for violence, stone-throwing and assault on police personnel, stated a report in India Today.

According to the report the protesters set around two dozen cars on fire and though initially the police lathi-charged and tear gassed the crowd, they soon opened fire. The city police chief told Reuters that this was done because the police “risked being overpowered by the violent crowd.”

The Police Commissioner went to the spot and the security arrangements are still in place, say reports, which add that 60 police personnel have also been injured. India Today quoted Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant confirming the arrest, “Accused Naveen has been arrested for sharing derogatory posts on social media.” 

The riot started when the mob, allegedly incited by the derogatory post, gathered near the residence of the Congress MLA on Tuesday night and vandalised the house, and set ablaze, the vehicles that were parked outside. The mob then went on to vandalise the police station nearby, perhaps because they thought the accused was being given shelter by the cops. According to news reports the mob set fire to 10-15 cars, including police vehicles, damaged a portion of the MLA’s residence, and then allegedly entered a basement area where 200-250 vehicles were set on fire.

According to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, “The mischief in the DG village police station has led to the assault and rioting of MLA Akhand Srinivasa's home and police station. Already directed to prosecute the perpetrators against the perpetrators. . .”

 

 

While the police are said to have fired in the air, two people are reported to have been killed. According to news reports the riot raged for hours, before it was finally brought under control around 2 A.M on Tuesday. Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai has been quoted as saying that he has, “given police a free hand to contain the violence.” Bengaluru is now under Section 144 of CrPC, and  a curfew has been imposed in DJ Halli and KG Halli. 

 

 

Meanwhile, a group of Muslim youth got together and forme a human barrier to protect a temple in Bengaluru, during the violence.

 

 

Among those reportedly detained is Muzamil Pasha, a Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) leader. He was allegedly picked up by police in connection with the DJ Halli police station violence in Bengaluru as per his party colleague Mujahid Pasha.

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has been quoted by news reports saying, “Directives have been issued against perpetrators and the government has taken all possible steps to curb the situation. Attack on journalists, police and public is unacceptable. The government won't tolerate such provocations and rumours. Strict action against perpetrators is certain.”

Meanwhile, Congress MLA Murthy appealed for peace and released a video message. He said an entire community should not resort to violence over the fault committed by some miscreants, "There is no need to fight. We all are brothers. We will get the person punished as per law. We will also be with you.” Former minister BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan said the violence was unfortunate. "I am hopeful that police will take action against all those who are responsible for this. I also request everyone to stay calm and maintain peace in the area," Khan tweeted.

 

 

Congress leader K C Venugopal has asked for strict action against both the man behind the derogatory post as well as those who rioted.

 

 

Karnataka Congress also appealed for peace and its chief DK Shivakumar has said, “The Government must take strict and exemplary action against the person who made the derogatory social media post as well as those who indulged in rioting and arson. At this point, it is important to maintain peace.”

 

 

However, another worrying aspect came to light in the riot. After the vicious attack on The Caravan’s journalists in the communally volatile  area of Northeast Delhi, on the same day journalists covering the communal riot in Bengaluru were attacked.

A group of reporters who came to see the ground situation were attacked, that too by police. India Today reporter, Nolan Pinto who was hit, and badly injured, shared that they kept saying they were journalists on assignment when they were hit by the police. “We came as reporters to see what's the ground situation but @CPBlr your police began to attack us without any provocation. No mob was present then!!” He has shown his injuries and said “police hit my head with a pole even though we kept yelling we are reporters.” 

 

 

Another journalist, Prajwal, a reporter with The News Minute was hit on his back. “We had to run from your police to save ourselves when there was no mob present,” added Nolan. The journalists continued to do their jobs bravely, Prajwal posted more images from DJ Halli Police Station  and its surrounding areas on Wednesday morning.

 

 

While the Central government, especially the Information and Broadcasting Ministry continues to be silent on these attacks on the media who were just doing their jobs, journalists are back on the field.  Arun Dev, Karnataka Bureau Chief of The Quint posted images of  the aftermath  at the DJ Halli police station.

 

 

 

Related: 

Caravan journalists attacked viciously by murderous mob in North East Delhi

Karnataka’s Brahmins can get caste and income certificates, avail 10 percent EWS 

Gauri Lankesh’s Kannada news website banned by Facebook?

 

Bengaluru riot: 3 dead, journalists beaten up by cops, vehicles gutted

Naveen, nephew of Congress MLA Srinivas Murthy, allegedly posted communal remarks on Facebook, setting of a night of violence, arson, deaths

communal violence

A communally derogatory social media post allegedly by a man identified as Naveen, ignited a massive communal riot on Tuesday in Bengaluru, the city that brands itself as the IT capital of the nation. Naveen is said to be the nephew of Congress MLA Srinivas Murthy, and allegedly made a provocative post about Prophet Mohammed's family on Facebook. He has been arrested, but the riots he caused have resulted in the death of three people. The MLA's house was also surrounded and vandalised by the mob. 

The riots broke out in DG Halli and KG Halli areas in the eastern part of Bengaluru. According to news reports, the mob also vandalised a police station and the residence of a Congress MLA. Around 60 police personnel have been left injured after being attacked by the mob, reported NDTV. The police have rounded-up145 people for violence, stone-throwing and assault on police personnel, stated a report in India Today.

According to the report the protesters set around two dozen cars on fire and though initially the police lathi-charged and tear gassed the crowd, they soon opened fire. The city police chief told Reuters that this was done because the police “risked being overpowered by the violent crowd.”

The Police Commissioner went to the spot and the security arrangements are still in place, say reports, which add that 60 police personnel have also been injured. India Today quoted Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant confirming the arrest, “Accused Naveen has been arrested for sharing derogatory posts on social media.” 

The riot started when the mob, allegedly incited by the derogatory post, gathered near the residence of the Congress MLA on Tuesday night and vandalised the house, and set ablaze, the vehicles that were parked outside. The mob then went on to vandalise the police station nearby, perhaps because they thought the accused was being given shelter by the cops. According to news reports the mob set fire to 10-15 cars, including police vehicles, damaged a portion of the MLA’s residence, and then allegedly entered a basement area where 200-250 vehicles were set on fire.

According to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, “The mischief in the DG village police station has led to the assault and rioting of MLA Akhand Srinivasa's home and police station. Already directed to prosecute the perpetrators against the perpetrators. . .”

 

 

While the police are said to have fired in the air, two people are reported to have been killed. According to news reports the riot raged for hours, before it was finally brought under control around 2 A.M on Tuesday. Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai has been quoted as saying that he has, “given police a free hand to contain the violence.” Bengaluru is now under Section 144 of CrPC, and  a curfew has been imposed in DJ Halli and KG Halli. 

 

 

Meanwhile, a group of Muslim youth got together and forme a human barrier to protect a temple in Bengaluru, during the violence.

 

 

Among those reportedly detained is Muzamil Pasha, a Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) leader. He was allegedly picked up by police in connection with the DJ Halli police station violence in Bengaluru as per his party colleague Mujahid Pasha.

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has been quoted by news reports saying, “Directives have been issued against perpetrators and the government has taken all possible steps to curb the situation. Attack on journalists, police and public is unacceptable. The government won't tolerate such provocations and rumours. Strict action against perpetrators is certain.”

Meanwhile, Congress MLA Murthy appealed for peace and released a video message. He said an entire community should not resort to violence over the fault committed by some miscreants, "There is no need to fight. We all are brothers. We will get the person punished as per law. We will also be with you.” Former minister BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan said the violence was unfortunate. "I am hopeful that police will take action against all those who are responsible for this. I also request everyone to stay calm and maintain peace in the area," Khan tweeted.

 

 

Congress leader K C Venugopal has asked for strict action against both the man behind the derogatory post as well as those who rioted.

 

 

Karnataka Congress also appealed for peace and its chief DK Shivakumar has said, “The Government must take strict and exemplary action against the person who made the derogatory social media post as well as those who indulged in rioting and arson. At this point, it is important to maintain peace.”

 

 

However, another worrying aspect came to light in the riot. After the vicious attack on The Caravan’s journalists in the communally volatile  area of Northeast Delhi, on the same day journalists covering the communal riot in Bengaluru were attacked.

A group of reporters who came to see the ground situation were attacked, that too by police. India Today reporter, Nolan Pinto who was hit, and badly injured, shared that they kept saying they were journalists on assignment when they were hit by the police. “We came as reporters to see what's the ground situation but @CPBlr your police began to attack us without any provocation. No mob was present then!!” He has shown his injuries and said “police hit my head with a pole even though we kept yelling we are reporters.” 

 

 

Another journalist, Prajwal, a reporter with The News Minute was hit on his back. “We had to run from your police to save ourselves when there was no mob present,” added Nolan. The journalists continued to do their jobs bravely, Prajwal posted more images from DJ Halli Police Station  and its surrounding areas on Wednesday morning.

 

 

While the Central government, especially the Information and Broadcasting Ministry continues to be silent on these attacks on the media who were just doing their jobs, journalists are back on the field.  Arun Dev, Karnataka Bureau Chief of The Quint posted images of  the aftermath  at the DJ Halli police station.

 

 

 

Related: 

Caravan journalists attacked viciously by murderous mob in North East Delhi

Karnataka’s Brahmins can get caste and income certificates, avail 10 percent EWS 

Gauri Lankesh’s Kannada news website banned by Facebook?

 

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Caravan journalists attacked viciously by murderous mob in North East Delhi

Journalists were attacked, verbally abused with communal slurs, woman journalist was sexually harassed while out reporting 

12 Aug 2020

journalist

Subhash Mohalla locality in North East Delhi, is like all others in the densely populated area. Narrow lanes that form a maze only locals seem to be able to navigate, houses built wall-to-wall, so close that conversations from next door can sometimes be heard. The crowds take minutes to gather in these lanes. Here, rumours spread fast, as do fear, hate and violence.

On Tuesday, August 11 afternoon, a frenzied group of men and women came out into these lanes and violently assaulted three journalists of the Caravan magazine. The journalists, Prabhjit Singh, Shahid Tantray, and a woman journalist who wishes to remain anonymous, were in the area working on a newsreport when they were surrounded, beaten, communally abused, harassed, and threatened with murder by the mob. The woman journalist was also sexually harassed by a mob of men when she escaped into a bylane, in an attempt to reach the local police station. 

The mob threated to kill photojournalist Shahid Tantray, on learning that he was a Muslim, they verbally abused him and Prabhjit Singh, a Sikh, with communal slurs. In the mob was a saffron clad man who identified himself as a “general secretary” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

The three journalists narrowly escaped the worst, and somehow reached the Bhajanpura police station. By late night, the news broke on social media and it was being said that the mob had also gathered outside the police station too. The journalists spent hours writing a detailed complaint by hand recording the sequence of violence they had just survived. 

In his detailed complaint, Prabhjit Singh has put on record that if he was not present, “the mob led by that saffron-clad man would have lynched Shahid for his Muslim identity.”

 

 

According to the reporters, when the mob heard Shahid’s name that identifies him as a Muslim, they began to physically attack, verbally abuse and threatened to kill him. Local police personnel subsequently managed to take the staffers to the police station. The third staffer of Caravanindia, a woman, was sexually harassed and physically assaulted. According to the information shared on social media, after the mob began attacking her, and her colleagues, she managed to extricate herself and escape to a neighbouring lane.

 

 

 

 

It was there that she was once again surrounded by a group of young men who started clicking photos and filming the woman journalist, without her consent. This mob also verbally harassed her. It got worse from there, and a middle-aged man exposed his genitals to her, shook his penis and made lewd facial expressions at her. She tried to run away and try to reach the Bhajanpura station, when the mob attacked her again. They hit her on the head, arms, hips and chest. The man in the saffron kurta was among them, as were two women.

 

 

The Caravan reporters have covered the  North East Delhi scores of times since communal riots broke out here in February this year. This time too they were visiting for follow up reportage, when they were attacked. According to a nching which is a serious threat to life. The mob tried to force the team to reveal their source and delete their video footage and pictures they shot while reporting. 

The Caravan reports that “at the lane where the attack had begun, Singh recounted that a crowd of around twenty people had already assembled at the area even before the saffron-clad man asked to see Tantray’s ID card. He informed the crowd that the three journalists were members of the press and were not doing anything illegal. “We are only taking photos of the lane, not inside anyone’s house,” Singh told the crowd. “Any journalist would take these photos if they saw so many saffron flags.” But the crowd did not relent. The man in saffron told them, “Tumhari tarah fattichar patrakar bahut dekhe hai” (I have seen many wretched journalists like you). “Main BJP general secretary hun, humaara kuch nahi bigaad sakte tum” (I am a BJP general secretary, you can’t do anything to us).

Tantray said that when the man saw his name on the press card, he exclaimed, “Tu toh ka**ua mullah hai”—he identified Shahid as Muslim, and used “ka**ua,” meaning circumcised, and “mullah,” meaning a Muslim man. Both terms are commonly used as slurs against Muslims. The man immediately began calling other locals, and within minutes, the crowd had swelled to around fifty people. “The crowd became really aggressive and numbers increased rapidly after seeing Shahid’s ID,” Singh said. They began hurling communal abuses at Tantray.

For nearly ninety minutes, the mob surrounded the two journalists and shouted communal slurs at Tantray, while also repeatedly and aggressively manhandling, slapping and kicking him. When Singh tried to intervene, they kicked him as well, stated The Caravan. Tantray also told Newslaundry  the group of men who had initially started questioning the journalists why they were reporting in Subhash Mohalla, “swelled to a larger group when one of the men, dressed in a saffron kurta and with a fractured arm, contacted others and asked them to show up.”

“When I said that we were reporting on the August 5 incident, he said that nothing happened here. I asked him to say this on camera but he refused. Then he called the police and others and the crowd began swelling,” NL quotes Tantray.

On the August 5, a group of people, apparently celebrating the foundation laying ceremony of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya 6, had planted saffron flags on the gates of Muslim-majority gully in Subhash Mohalla, which also has a mosque called Auliya Masjid written on the area’s road sign outside. Even months after the riots, most of North East Delhi remains a communally sensitive area. Journalists, especially women journalists, often find themselves surrounded by crowds in seconds, as they talk to people to gather information for their reportage.

Journalists have to be extra careful and alert when covering these areas, usually done on foot. Many, especially photo journalists, have often continued to wear helmets in the area even after dismounting their vehicles.  

According to eyewitnesses from Subhash Mohalla who spoke to Newslaundry,  the woman journalist was pleading with locals to take her to the police station and when someone tried to help, “a group of 15-20 people, including women, entered from the gate and began dragging her away.” The eyewitness said while the local police had arrived they were “ not actively attempting to pacify the crowd” which dragged the woman journalist by the hair and beat her up. This mob included women.

As stated by The Caravan, the woman journalist has noted in her complaint that, “a middle-aged man in a dhoti and a white t-shirt, with a bald head and a slim pony-tail stood in front of me. He then opened his dhoti and exposed his genitals while looking at me. He proceeded to shake his penis with his hand and started making objectionable and lewd expressions, while laughing at me.” 

The woman journalist has filed a separate complaint, in addition to the one already filed by her male colleagues. Women journalists remain the most vulnerable, especially when out reporting from the ground.

According to the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, violence against women, including against women journalists, comprises any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

The Network of Women in Media India (NWMI), condemns the attack on Shahid Tantray, Prabhjit Singh, and a woman journalist (identity withheld) of The  Caravan magazine. “The physical attack on all the three journalists and the sexual harassment and of the woman journalist, while reporting, are serious assaults and represent a setback to press freedom. This incident is a chilling indicator of the grave risks to on-ground reporting that journalists in India have been facing, even in the national capital," stated NWMI. 

The network has demanded that, Delhi police immediately file an FIR including all relevant sections on physical assault and also sexual harassment, and a credible investigation into the incident is launched. They have also demanded immediate action against the attacking mob. “The attack on the three journalists once again raises major concerns over the safety of journalists in India. Despite the fact that press freedom has been recognised as part of freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution, journalists in India are being repeatedly subjected to physical assaults. According to a report collated by Rights and Risk Analysis Group, between March and May, 55 journalists have been targeted for doing their job. 

“The pattern of aggressive mobs targeting journalists on the basis of their religion and gender was also seen recently during the Delhi violence in February. This is a grave and serious threat to the Indian media and the democratic ethos of the country. The fact that such incidents continue also demonstrates the lack of political will to create a climate for free expression and press freedom,” stated the NWMI. 

NWMI has pointed out that this latest attack on journalists,  “demonstrates the impunity enjoyed by political groups.  These physical attacks are part of the ongoing trend to promote self-censorship, as it could act as a deterrent to journalists from seeking the truth, reporting from the ground, and doing their duty.”

In the past few months, scores of journalists have been attacked for covering riots and violence that has targeted minority communities. Senior journalists have been named in FIRs and summoned to join police investigations, because they reported on the original events, attacks, and situations that are a matter of public record. 

Senior Journalist Aakar Patel, who himself has been attacked by right wing trolls, has demanded that the The Editors Guild take the matter up with Delhi Police. The guild, he says “needs to engage with Delhi police on the issue of the assault on @thecaravanindia journalists. It is unacceptable.”

 

 

Delhi Police, of course, is yet to respond online, to this attack which is being discussed by many. While this is one of the most serious, and vicious attacks on journalists, and journalism, there has been a deafening silence from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Information and Broadcasting minister and Delhi Police Commissioner. Even the usually voluble Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too is yet to take notice.

Silence from the authorities is perhaps what has emboldened the  man in saffron who allegedly led the attack.   

 

Related: 

Hate offender Kapil Mishra accuses renowned journalists for biased reportage of Delhi violence

UN takes closer look at attacks on women journalists

End harassment of Kashmiri journalists, lawyers: Kashmir Reading Room

Police probe ordered by NHRC into death threats on journalist: Sultanpur rape case

BBC journalist illegally detained in UP, HRDA writes to NHRC

Gauri Lankesh’s Kannada news website banned by Facebook?

Journalism is a hazardous profession in Uttar Pradesh

 

Caravan journalists attacked viciously by murderous mob in North East Delhi

Journalists were attacked, verbally abused with communal slurs, woman journalist was sexually harassed while out reporting 

journalist

Subhash Mohalla locality in North East Delhi, is like all others in the densely populated area. Narrow lanes that form a maze only locals seem to be able to navigate, houses built wall-to-wall, so close that conversations from next door can sometimes be heard. The crowds take minutes to gather in these lanes. Here, rumours spread fast, as do fear, hate and violence.

On Tuesday, August 11 afternoon, a frenzied group of men and women came out into these lanes and violently assaulted three journalists of the Caravan magazine. The journalists, Prabhjit Singh, Shahid Tantray, and a woman journalist who wishes to remain anonymous, were in the area working on a newsreport when they were surrounded, beaten, communally abused, harassed, and threatened with murder by the mob. The woman journalist was also sexually harassed by a mob of men when she escaped into a bylane, in an attempt to reach the local police station. 

The mob threated to kill photojournalist Shahid Tantray, on learning that he was a Muslim, they verbally abused him and Prabhjit Singh, a Sikh, with communal slurs. In the mob was a saffron clad man who identified himself as a “general secretary” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

The three journalists narrowly escaped the worst, and somehow reached the Bhajanpura police station. By late night, the news broke on social media and it was being said that the mob had also gathered outside the police station too. The journalists spent hours writing a detailed complaint by hand recording the sequence of violence they had just survived. 

In his detailed complaint, Prabhjit Singh has put on record that if he was not present, “the mob led by that saffron-clad man would have lynched Shahid for his Muslim identity.”

 

 

According to the reporters, when the mob heard Shahid’s name that identifies him as a Muslim, they began to physically attack, verbally abuse and threatened to kill him. Local police personnel subsequently managed to take the staffers to the police station. The third staffer of Caravanindia, a woman, was sexually harassed and physically assaulted. According to the information shared on social media, after the mob began attacking her, and her colleagues, she managed to extricate herself and escape to a neighbouring lane.

 

 

 

 

It was there that she was once again surrounded by a group of young men who started clicking photos and filming the woman journalist, without her consent. This mob also verbally harassed her. It got worse from there, and a middle-aged man exposed his genitals to her, shook his penis and made lewd facial expressions at her. She tried to run away and try to reach the Bhajanpura station, when the mob attacked her again. They hit her on the head, arms, hips and chest. The man in the saffron kurta was among them, as were two women.

 

 

The Caravan reporters have covered the  North East Delhi scores of times since communal riots broke out here in February this year. This time too they were visiting for follow up reportage, when they were attacked. According to a nching which is a serious threat to life. The mob tried to force the team to reveal their source and delete their video footage and pictures they shot while reporting. 

The Caravan reports that “at the lane where the attack had begun, Singh recounted that a crowd of around twenty people had already assembled at the area even before the saffron-clad man asked to see Tantray’s ID card. He informed the crowd that the three journalists were members of the press and were not doing anything illegal. “We are only taking photos of the lane, not inside anyone’s house,” Singh told the crowd. “Any journalist would take these photos if they saw so many saffron flags.” But the crowd did not relent. The man in saffron told them, “Tumhari tarah fattichar patrakar bahut dekhe hai” (I have seen many wretched journalists like you). “Main BJP general secretary hun, humaara kuch nahi bigaad sakte tum” (I am a BJP general secretary, you can’t do anything to us).

Tantray said that when the man saw his name on the press card, he exclaimed, “Tu toh ka**ua mullah hai”—he identified Shahid as Muslim, and used “ka**ua,” meaning circumcised, and “mullah,” meaning a Muslim man. Both terms are commonly used as slurs against Muslims. The man immediately began calling other locals, and within minutes, the crowd had swelled to around fifty people. “The crowd became really aggressive and numbers increased rapidly after seeing Shahid’s ID,” Singh said. They began hurling communal abuses at Tantray.

For nearly ninety minutes, the mob surrounded the two journalists and shouted communal slurs at Tantray, while also repeatedly and aggressively manhandling, slapping and kicking him. When Singh tried to intervene, they kicked him as well, stated The Caravan. Tantray also told Newslaundry  the group of men who had initially started questioning the journalists why they were reporting in Subhash Mohalla, “swelled to a larger group when one of the men, dressed in a saffron kurta and with a fractured arm, contacted others and asked them to show up.”

“When I said that we were reporting on the August 5 incident, he said that nothing happened here. I asked him to say this on camera but he refused. Then he called the police and others and the crowd began swelling,” NL quotes Tantray.

On the August 5, a group of people, apparently celebrating the foundation laying ceremony of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya 6, had planted saffron flags on the gates of Muslim-majority gully in Subhash Mohalla, which also has a mosque called Auliya Masjid written on the area’s road sign outside. Even months after the riots, most of North East Delhi remains a communally sensitive area. Journalists, especially women journalists, often find themselves surrounded by crowds in seconds, as they talk to people to gather information for their reportage.

Journalists have to be extra careful and alert when covering these areas, usually done on foot. Many, especially photo journalists, have often continued to wear helmets in the area even after dismounting their vehicles.  

According to eyewitnesses from Subhash Mohalla who spoke to Newslaundry,  the woman journalist was pleading with locals to take her to the police station and when someone tried to help, “a group of 15-20 people, including women, entered from the gate and began dragging her away.” The eyewitness said while the local police had arrived they were “ not actively attempting to pacify the crowd” which dragged the woman journalist by the hair and beat her up. This mob included women.

As stated by The Caravan, the woman journalist has noted in her complaint that, “a middle-aged man in a dhoti and a white t-shirt, with a bald head and a slim pony-tail stood in front of me. He then opened his dhoti and exposed his genitals while looking at me. He proceeded to shake his penis with his hand and started making objectionable and lewd expressions, while laughing at me.” 

The woman journalist has filed a separate complaint, in addition to the one already filed by her male colleagues. Women journalists remain the most vulnerable, especially when out reporting from the ground.

According to the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, violence against women, including against women journalists, comprises any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

The Network of Women in Media India (NWMI), condemns the attack on Shahid Tantray, Prabhjit Singh, and a woman journalist (identity withheld) of The  Caravan magazine. “The physical attack on all the three journalists and the sexual harassment and of the woman journalist, while reporting, are serious assaults and represent a setback to press freedom. This incident is a chilling indicator of the grave risks to on-ground reporting that journalists in India have been facing, even in the national capital," stated NWMI. 

The network has demanded that, Delhi police immediately file an FIR including all relevant sections on physical assault and also sexual harassment, and a credible investigation into the incident is launched. They have also demanded immediate action against the attacking mob. “The attack on the three journalists once again raises major concerns over the safety of journalists in India. Despite the fact that press freedom has been recognised as part of freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution, journalists in India are being repeatedly subjected to physical assaults. According to a report collated by Rights and Risk Analysis Group, between March and May, 55 journalists have been targeted for doing their job. 

“The pattern of aggressive mobs targeting journalists on the basis of their religion and gender was also seen recently during the Delhi violence in February. This is a grave and serious threat to the Indian media and the democratic ethos of the country. The fact that such incidents continue also demonstrates the lack of political will to create a climate for free expression and press freedom,” stated the NWMI. 

NWMI has pointed out that this latest attack on journalists,  “demonstrates the impunity enjoyed by political groups.  These physical attacks are part of the ongoing trend to promote self-censorship, as it could act as a deterrent to journalists from seeking the truth, reporting from the ground, and doing their duty.”

In the past few months, scores of journalists have been attacked for covering riots and violence that has targeted minority communities. Senior journalists have been named in FIRs and summoned to join police investigations, because they reported on the original events, attacks, and situations that are a matter of public record. 

Senior Journalist Aakar Patel, who himself has been attacked by right wing trolls, has demanded that the The Editors Guild take the matter up with Delhi Police. The guild, he says “needs to engage with Delhi police on the issue of the assault on @thecaravanindia journalists. It is unacceptable.”

 

 

Delhi Police, of course, is yet to respond online, to this attack which is being discussed by many. While this is one of the most serious, and vicious attacks on journalists, and journalism, there has been a deafening silence from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Information and Broadcasting minister and Delhi Police Commissioner. Even the usually voluble Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too is yet to take notice.

Silence from the authorities is perhaps what has emboldened the  man in saffron who allegedly led the attack.   

 

Related: 

Hate offender Kapil Mishra accuses renowned journalists for biased reportage of Delhi violence

UN takes closer look at attacks on women journalists

End harassment of Kashmiri journalists, lawyers: Kashmir Reading Room

Police probe ordered by NHRC into death threats on journalist: Sultanpur rape case

BBC journalist illegally detained in UP, HRDA writes to NHRC

Gauri Lankesh’s Kannada news website banned by Facebook?

Journalism is a hazardous profession in Uttar Pradesh

 

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Constitutional and legislative amendments needed to implement Clause 6 of Assam Accord: Committee

Six months after submission of recommendations by the Committee, some members release it independently

12 Aug 2020

AASU

In February 2020, the Clause 6 Committee constituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had submitted a slew of recommendations pertaining to Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards for the interests and culture of Assamese people. The 14-member high-powered Committee had been constituted in July 2019 and had been given six months to submit its report, which it did just days before the deadline.

This Report of the Committee on Implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord was however not made public at that time.

Now, six months later, some members of the panel including Arunachal Pradesh Advocate General Nilay Dutta and three members of the All Assam Students Union (AASU) have released the report independently.

As per the report, what is key to the Committee’s recommendations is a series of amendments to Article 371 B. The report says, “The Committee is of the opinion that to give full effect to its Recommendations, as stated hereinbelow, several Constitutional and legislative amendments will be necessitated. The existing Article 371-B in the Constitution of India will need to be amended.”

In order to understand the ramifications of this, first let us take a closer look at Article 371 B of the Constitution of India and Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.


Article 371 B of the Constitution of India

This Article deals with Special provision with respect to the State of Assam and states, “Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, the President may, by order made with respect to the State of Assam, provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of the Legislative Assembly of the State consisting of members of that Assembly elected from the tribal areas specified in Part I of the table appended to paragraph 20 of the Sixth Schedule and such number of other members of that Assembly as may be specified in the order and for the modifications to be made in the rules of procedure of that Assembly for the constitution and proper functioning of such committee.”


Clause 6 of the Assam Accord

The Assam Accord was signed in 1985 after a 6-year-long violent agitation that was born out of concerns of ‘outsiders’ or ‘illegal immigrants’ from Bangladesh entering and taking over parts of Assam in an alleged bid to change the original demography and culture of the region.

Clause 6 of the Assam Accord says, “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.”

A committee was formed to look into how the interests and culture of Assamese people could be best protected and according to the government’s official website, the following action has been taken so far:

  1. The Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra Society was established under clause 6 of the historic Assam Accord and committed to work for preservation, promotion and upliftment of culture of the people of Assam.
    For the construction of the complex, the Ministry of H.R.D. Govt. of India funded Rs. 18.85 crores and Govt. of Assam funded Rs. 1.50 crores the total construction cost being 20.35 crores. The total area of the campus is 10.28 hectares at Panjabari, Guwahati.   

  2. Jyoti Chitraban Film Studio Scheme (Phase-I & Phase-II) has been implemented for Rs. 8.79 crores.

  3. The Modernisation of the Jyoti Chitraban Film Studio Phase III (Part-I) for Rs. 10 crores has been sanctioned by the Govt. of India and works are currently in progress. Work completed about 85%. Construction of Mini Film City is under process. This Film Studio Society will become a Film Hub of the entire North-East Region.  Construction of “Film Archive” is under process and expected to be completion shortly.

  4. Rs. 21.00 Crore has been granted as financial assistance to 219 Nos. of Satras of Assam.

  5. Rs. 7.00 crores have been provided as financial assistance for 11 Nos. historical monuments so far for their protection, preservation and development.

  6. Archaeological Survey of India has taken up the protection, preservation and development of 5 monuments. These are

(i) Singri Temple’s ruins

(ii) Urvarshi Archaeological Site

(iii) Poa-Mecca, Hajo

(iv) Kedar Temple, Hajo and

(v) Hayagriva Madhava Temple, Hajo.

  1. The Executive Council of the Jawaharlal Nehru University has resolved to approve the establishment of an Assamese Chair in the Centre of Indian Language, Literature and Culture Studies of the University. The matter is being taken up with the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

  2. An Autonomous Institution namely Anandaram Borooah Institute of Language Art & Culture Assam(ABILAC) has been established  on 12thDecember,1989 with the Financial Assistance from Govt. of Assam. The Institute is pursing Research for the development of Indigenous Language. Art and Culture of the State. Besides this, the Directorate of Higher Education providing annual grants to the following Voluntary Organizations for upliftment of the Language, Art and Culture in their respective field. The list of Voluntary Organizations involves are as follows:- 

(1) Indian Art History Congress,

(2) Assam Sahitya Sabha,

(3) Assam Science Society,

(4) Institute of Adv. Study in Science & Technology,

(5) Central Tai Academy, Patsaku,

(6) Sadou Asom Lekhika Samaroah Samity,

(7) Tai Sahitya Sabha,

(8) Manipuri Sahitya Parishad,

(9) Dimasa Sahitya Sabha,

(10) Assam Academy of Mathematics,

(11) Borak Upatyaka Bonga O Sahitya Sanmilan,

(12) South East Asia Ramayani Research Centre,

(13) Karbi Lame T Amei (Karbi Sahitya Sabha),

(14) Nepali Sahitya Parishad,

(15) Rabha Academy,

(16) Kamrup Sanskrit Sanjivani Sabha,

(17) Kamrup Anusandhan Samity,

(18) Purnakant Buragbohain Institute,

(19) Institute of Tai Studies.

  1. The different political parties, Sahitya Sabhas, Youth organizations, All Assam Student Union and reputed N.G.O’s are requested to furnish their views/ suggestions for preparation of definition of “Assamese Peoples” in the meeting held time to time. Besides a few organizations, the views and suggestion from all organization are not received. The matter is under the consideration of Cabinet Sub-Committee at present.

However, as per the report, “The Committee noted that the Assam Accord is yet to be fully and effectively implemented even after 35 years of its signing.”
 

The Core Proposal

So, what would the Committee have the government do? As per the report, great emphasis has been placed on the foreigner issue. The core proposal states, “Assam Accord must be fully implemented in a time bound manner, so as to facilitate detection, deletion and deportation of foreigners in Assam.” It adds, “Prompt and adequate measures to be adopted to completely seal the IndoBangladesh Border in the line of Indo-Pakistan Border.” The report also suggests, “Till deportation of post 1971 stream of declared foreigners is completed, they should be resettled in areas outside the State of Assam, as an interim measure.”

The Committee also states that, “It is felt that complete implementation of all Clauses of Assam Accord especially Clauses 5.1 to 5.9, Clauses 7, 10 and 11 are essential for the safeguards to be provided under Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.”

Here’s what these clauses say:
 

Clause 5: Foreigners Issue

5.1       For purposes of detection and deletion of foreigners, 1.1.1966 shall be the base date and year.

5.2       All persons who came to Assam prior to 1.1.1966, including those amongst them whose name appeared on the electoral rolls used in 1967 elections, shall be regularized.

5.3       Foreigners who came to Assam after 1.1.1966 (inclusive) and upto 24th March, 1971 shall be detected in accordance with the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order 1964.

5.4       Names of Foreigners so detected will be deleted from the electoral rolls in force. Such persons will be required to register themselves before the Registration Officers of the respective districts in accordance with the provisions of the Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939 and the Registration of Foreigners Rules, 1939.

5.5       For this purpose, Government of India will undertake suitable strengthening of the governmental machinery.

5.6       On the expiry of a period of ten year following the date of detection, the names of all such persons which have been deleted from the electoral rolls shall be restored.

5.7       All persons who were expelled, earlier, but have since re-entered illegally into Assam, shall be expelled.

5.8       Foreigners who came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971 shall continue to be detected, deleted and expelled in accordance with law. Immediate and practical steps shall be taken to expel such foreigners.

5.9       The Government will give due consideration to certain difficulties expressed by the AASU/AAGSP regarding the implementation of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983.


Clause 7: Economic Development

It says, “The Government takes this opportunity to renew their commitment for the speedy all round economic development of Assam, so as to improve the standard of living of the people. Special emphasis will be placed on education and science & technology through establishment of national institutions.”


Clause 10: Prevention of Encroachment of Government lands

This clause states, “It will be ensured that relevant laws for prevention of encroachment of Government lands and lands in tribal belts and blocks are strictly enforced and unauthorized encroachers evicted as laid down under such laws.”


Clause 11: Restricting acquisition of immovable property by foreigners

It says, “It will be ensured that the relevant law restricting acquisition of immovable property by foreigners in Assam is strictly enforced.”


Defining Assamese People

The next set of key recommendations deals with the definition of Assamese People. Here the report says, “The Committee after deliberations and upon consideration of the various representations from the stakeholders and further on the basis of interactions with various organisations and individuals, the Committee has come to the conclusion that the definition of Assamese People for specific purpose of implementation of Clause 6 of Assam Accord should consist of Indigenous Tribals as well as other Indigenous Communities of Assam over and above Indigenous Assamese.”

It further defines Assamese People as all citizens of India who are part of:

(i)               Assamese community, residing in the Territory of Assam on or before 01.01.1951 Or

(ii)              Any indigenous Tribal Community of Assam residing in the Territory of Assam on or before 01.01.1951 Or

(iii)            Any other indigenous community of Assam residing in the Territory of Assam on or before 01.01.1951 Or

(iv)            All other citizens of India residing in the territory of Assam on or before 01.01.1951 And

(v)              Descendants of the above categories


Reservations

The Committee recommends reserving 80-100 percent of seats allotted to the state of Assam in the Parliament for Assamese People as defined above. It further recommends that 80-100 percent of seats in Assam Legislative Assembly and Local Bodies be reserved for Assamese people but be inclusive of pre-existing reservations and that similar reservation to be extended in respect of local bodies excluding Sixth Schedule Councils.

With respect to Sixth Schedule Councils namely Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council and Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Council, the Committee recommends immediate and effective implementation of various agreements arrived at so far. The Committee further recommends that the Statutory Autonomous Councils created by the State Acts namely, Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council, Tiwa Autonomous Council, Mising Autonomous Council, Deori Autonomous Council, Thengal Kachari Autonomous Council and Sonowal Kachari Autonomous Council should be made fully functional by providing adequate financial and administrative support. Similar support should be extended to Development Councils.

This is significant because Assam is home to several different tribes and communities who enjoy varying degrees of autonomy and protections when it comes to administration of affairs within designated areas.


Creation of Upper House

This is where the Committee says an amendment to Article 371 B will be required. The Committee recommends “the making of adequate provision for an Upper House (Legislative Council of Assam) and all seats thereof to be reserved for the ‘Assamese People’. The composition of the House shall be from among the SC, ST and the tribes/communities of the State (seats allotted in descending order of population of each tribe on rotational basis).”


Employment

Here too the Committee recommends amendments to Article 371 B to enable:

·80 to 100 percent of Group C and D level posts in Central Government/Semi-central Government/Central PSUs/Private Sector including under PPP Mode falling and arising in Assam should be reserved for Assamese people.

·80 to 100% of jobs under Government of Assam and State Government undertakings and 70 to 100% of vacancies arising in private partnerships including PPP mode in State of Assam shall be reserved for Assamese people.

 Land and Land Rights

This is where a whole host of protections are granted to ensure land remains in control of Assamese people. The report says, “Unless the land rights of the “Assamese People” are protected along with the political rights, it will be a futile exercise to adopt measures for full implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord in its true spirit, keeping in mind the background facts.” Some of the key recommendations are as follows:

·In addition to tribal belts and blocks under Chapter X of ALRR 1886, the State Government should identify the Revenue Circles of the State, where only “Assamese People” can own and possess land and transfer of such land in these areas are limited to them alone. The selected urban areas under the Assam Municipal Act will however be excluded without affecting the interest of the Assamese people.

·Government should take immediate steps to prevent shrinkage/decrease of Prime Agricultural Land. There has to be complete ban on transfer of such land for non-agricultural purposes.

·Section 8 of the Assam Agricultural Land (Regulation of Re-classification and Transfer of Land for Agricultural Purpose) Act, 2015 which allows violation of the law pertaining to re-classification should be repealed. Whenever, re-classification is sought, the public opinion in a meeting of the Gram Sabha will be a mandatory condition

The above recommendations are significant as they provide protection to indigenous and forest dwelling communities that live on forest land and depend on forest produce.

Another key provision deals with the erosion prone Char areas. The report recommends, “Char areas should be surveyed and newly created Char areas should be treated as Government land and erosion affected people should get priority in allotment. Alternatively, Char land is to be taken over for agricultural and allied activities like dairy, fodder plantation etc through community ownership.”

It is noteworthy that due to erosion in these riverine areas, often entire villages are washed away and people have to relocate bag and baggage often losing important documentation in the process. As documents are the only way for people to defend their Indian citizenship, they are often the most valuable possession of these people.

Some other recommendations have been made with respect to administration and management of Tea Garden land. Recommendations also pertain to allotment of land patta to Assamese people.


Language, Culture and Natural Resources

While Assamese shall continue to remain the official language of the state of Assam, the Committee also recommends protection and promotion of indigenous tribal languages including, Bodo, Mishing, Karbi, Dimasa, Koch-Rajbongshi, Rabha, Deuri, Tiwa, Tai and others. The Committee says, “The Four Language Policy should be given appropriate legislative protection.”

The Committee has also made a series of recommendations to protect ancient monuments, and institutions like Sattras, Naamghars and other indigenous religious institutions. The Committee also recommends the “preservation and documentation of the Zikirs and Zaris composed by Ajan Pir, the celebrated Sufi saint of Assam. Efforts should be made for translation of Zikirs in various indigenous languages of the State.”

As far natural resources are concerned, the Committee recommends, “Value addition to the State’s natural resources, both renewable or otherwise, be carried out within the State itself so as to generate economic activities and employment opportunities in the State.” It adds, “The Assam State Biodiversity Board should be strengthened with sufficient financial assistance from both the Central and the State Government for effective functioning and taking up measures for consideration of the biodiversity of Assam.”

The entire Report of the Committee on Implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord Constituted by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India may be read here: 

 

Related:

Is MHA distancing itself from Assam Clause 6 committee report?

Does the Assam MSME Ordinance threaten indigenous land in the state?

Constitutional and legislative amendments needed to implement Clause 6 of Assam Accord: Committee

Six months after submission of recommendations by the Committee, some members release it independently

AASU

In February 2020, the Clause 6 Committee constituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had submitted a slew of recommendations pertaining to Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards for the interests and culture of Assamese people. The 14-member high-powered Committee had been constituted in July 2019 and had been given six months to submit its report, which it did just days before the deadline.

This Report of the Committee on Implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord was however not made public at that time.

Now, six months later, some members of the panel including Arunachal Pradesh Advocate General Nilay Dutta and three members of the All Assam Students Union (AASU) have released the report independently.

As per the report, what is key to the Committee’s recommendations is a series of amendments to Article 371 B. The report says, “The Committee is of the opinion that to give full effect to its Recommendations, as stated hereinbelow, several Constitutional and legislative amendments will be necessitated. The existing Article 371-B in the Constitution of India will need to be amended.”

In order to understand the ramifications of this, first let us take a closer look at Article 371 B of the Constitution of India and Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.


Article 371 B of the Constitution of India

This Article deals with Special provision with respect to the State of Assam and states, “Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, the President may, by order made with respect to the State of Assam, provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of the Legislative Assembly of the State consisting of members of that Assembly elected from the tribal areas specified in Part I of the table appended to paragraph 20 of the Sixth Schedule and such number of other members of that Assembly as may be specified in the order and for the modifications to be made in the rules of procedure of that Assembly for the constitution and proper functioning of such committee.”


Clause 6 of the Assam Accord

The Assam Accord was signed in 1985 after a 6-year-long violent agitation that was born out of concerns of ‘outsiders’ or ‘illegal immigrants’ from Bangladesh entering and taking over parts of Assam in an alleged bid to change the original demography and culture of the region.

Clause 6 of the Assam Accord says, “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.”

A committee was formed to look into how the interests and culture of Assamese people could be best protected and according to the government’s official website, the following action has been taken so far:

  1. The Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra Society was established under clause 6 of the historic Assam Accord and committed to work for preservation, promotion and upliftment of culture of the people of Assam.
    For the construction of the complex, the Ministry of H.R.D. Govt. of India funded Rs. 18.85 crores and Govt. of Assam funded Rs. 1.50 crores the total construction cost being 20.35 crores. The total area of the campus is 10.28 hectares at Panjabari, Guwahati.   

  2. Jyoti Chitraban Film Studio Scheme (Phase-I & Phase-II) has been implemented for Rs. 8.79 crores.

  3. The Modernisation of the Jyoti Chitraban Film Studio Phase III (Part-I) for Rs. 10 crores has been sanctioned by the Govt. of India and works are currently in progress. Work completed about 85%. Construction of Mini Film City is under process. This Film Studio Society will become a Film Hub of the entire North-East Region.  Construction of “Film Archive” is under process and expected to be completion shortly.

  4. Rs. 21.00 Crore has been granted as financial assistance to 219 Nos. of Satras of Assam.

  5. Rs. 7.00 crores have been provided as financial assistance for 11 Nos. historical monuments so far for their protection, preservation and development.

  6. Archaeological Survey of India has taken up the protection, preservation and development of 5 monuments. These are

(i) Singri Temple’s ruins

(ii) Urvarshi Archaeological Site

(iii) Poa-Mecca, Hajo

(iv) Kedar Temple, Hajo and

(v) Hayagriva Madhava Temple, Hajo.

  1. The Executive Council of the Jawaharlal Nehru University has resolved to approve the establishment of an Assamese Chair in the Centre of Indian Language, Literature and Culture Studies of the University. The matter is being taken up with the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

  2. An Autonomous Institution namely Anandaram Borooah Institute of Language Art & Culture Assam(ABILAC) has been established  on 12thDecember,1989 with the Financial Assistance from Govt. of Assam. The Institute is pursing Research for the development of Indigenous Language. Art and Culture of the State. Besides this, the Directorate of Higher Education providing annual grants to the following Voluntary Organizations for upliftment of the Language, Art and Culture in their respective field. The list of Voluntary Organizations involves are as follows:- 

(1) Indian Art History Congress,

(2) Assam Sahitya Sabha,

(3) Assam Science Society,

(4) Institute of Adv. Study in Science & Technology,

(5) Central Tai Academy, Patsaku,

(6) Sadou Asom Lekhika Samaroah Samity,

(7) Tai Sahitya Sabha,

(8) Manipuri Sahitya Parishad,

(9) Dimasa Sahitya Sabha,

(10) Assam Academy of Mathematics,

(11) Borak Upatyaka Bonga O Sahitya Sanmilan,

(12) South East Asia Ramayani Research Centre,

(13) Karbi Lame T Amei (Karbi Sahitya Sabha),

(14) Nepali Sahitya Parishad,

(15) Rabha Academy,

(16) Kamrup Sanskrit Sanjivani Sabha,

(17) Kamrup Anusandhan Samity,

(18) Purnakant Buragbohain Institute,

(19) Institute of Tai Studies.

  1. The different political parties, Sahitya Sabhas, Youth organizations, All Assam Student Union and reputed N.G.O’s are requested to furnish their views/ suggestions for preparation of definition of “Assamese Peoples” in the meeting held time to time. Besides a few organizations, the views and suggestion from all organization are not received. The matter is under the consideration of Cabinet Sub-Committee at present.

However, as per the report, “The Committee noted that the Assam Accord is yet to be fully and effectively implemented even after 35 years of its signing.”
 

The Core Proposal

So, what would the Committee have the government do? As per the report, great emphasis has been placed on the foreigner issue. The core proposal states, “Assam Accord must be fully implemented in a time bound manner, so as to facilitate detection, deletion and deportation of foreigners in Assam.” It adds, “Prompt and adequate measures to be adopted to completely seal the IndoBangladesh Border in the line of Indo-Pakistan Border.” The report also suggests, “Till deportation of post 1971 stream of declared foreigners is completed, they should be resettled in areas outside the State of Assam, as an interim measure.”

The Committee also states that, “It is felt that complete implementation of all Clauses of Assam Accord especially Clauses 5.1 to 5.9, Clauses 7, 10 and 11 are essential for the safeguards to be provided under Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.”

Here’s what these clauses say:
 

Clause 5: Foreigners Issue

5.1       For purposes of detection and deletion of foreigners, 1.1.1966 shall be the base date and year.

5.2       All persons who came to Assam prior to 1.1.1966, including those amongst them whose name appeared on the electoral rolls used in 1967 elections, shall be regularized.

5.3       Foreigners who came to Assam after 1.1.1966 (inclusive) and upto 24th March, 1971 shall be detected in accordance with the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order 1964.

5.4       Names of Foreigners so detected will be deleted from the electoral rolls in force. Such persons will be required to register themselves before the Registration Officers of the respective districts in accordance with the provisions of the Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939 and the Registration of Foreigners Rules, 1939.

5.5       For this purpose, Government of India will undertake suitable strengthening of the governmental machinery.

5.6       On the expiry of a period of ten year following the date of detection, the names of all such persons which have been deleted from the electoral rolls shall be restored.

5.7       All persons who were expelled, earlier, but have since re-entered illegally into Assam, shall be expelled.

5.8       Foreigners who came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971 shall continue to be detected, deleted and expelled in accordance with law. Immediate and practical steps shall be taken to expel such foreigners.

5.9       The Government will give due consideration to certain difficulties expressed by the AASU/AAGSP regarding the implementation of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983.


Clause 7: Economic Development

It says, “The Government takes this opportunity to renew their commitment for the speedy all round economic development of Assam, so as to improve the standard of living of the people. Special emphasis will be placed on education and science & technology through establishment of national institutions.”


Clause 10: Prevention of Encroachment of Government lands

This clause states, “It will be ensured that relevant laws for prevention of encroachment of Government lands and lands in tribal belts and blocks are strictly enforced and unauthorized encroachers evicted as laid down under such laws.”


Clause 11: Restricting acquisition of immovable property by foreigners

It says, “It will be ensured that the relevant law restricting acquisition of immovable property by foreigners in Assam is strictly enforced.”


Defining Assamese People

The next set of key recommendations deals with the definition of Assamese People. Here the report says, “The Committee after deliberations and upon consideration of the various representations from the stakeholders and further on the basis of interactions with various organisations and individuals, the Committee has come to the conclusion that the definition of Assamese People for specific purpose of implementation of Clause 6 of Assam Accord should consist of Indigenous Tribals as well as other Indigenous Communities of Assam over and above Indigenous Assamese.”

It further defines Assamese People as all citizens of India who are part of:

(i)               Assamese community, residing in the Territory of Assam on or before 01.01.1951 Or

(ii)              Any indigenous Tribal Community of Assam residing in the Territory of Assam on or before 01.01.1951 Or

(iii)            Any other indigenous community of Assam residing in the Territory of Assam on or before 01.01.1951 Or

(iv)            All other citizens of India residing in the territory of Assam on or before 01.01.1951 And

(v)              Descendants of the above categories


Reservations

The Committee recommends reserving 80-100 percent of seats allotted to the state of Assam in the Parliament for Assamese People as defined above. It further recommends that 80-100 percent of seats in Assam Legislative Assembly and Local Bodies be reserved for Assamese people but be inclusive of pre-existing reservations and that similar reservation to be extended in respect of local bodies excluding Sixth Schedule Councils.

With respect to Sixth Schedule Councils namely Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council and Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Council, the Committee recommends immediate and effective implementation of various agreements arrived at so far. The Committee further recommends that the Statutory Autonomous Councils created by the State Acts namely, Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council, Tiwa Autonomous Council, Mising Autonomous Council, Deori Autonomous Council, Thengal Kachari Autonomous Council and Sonowal Kachari Autonomous Council should be made fully functional by providing adequate financial and administrative support. Similar support should be extended to Development Councils.

This is significant because Assam is home to several different tribes and communities who enjoy varying degrees of autonomy and protections when it comes to administration of affairs within designated areas.


Creation of Upper House

This is where the Committee says an amendment to Article 371 B will be required. The Committee recommends “the making of adequate provision for an Upper House (Legislative Council of Assam) and all seats thereof to be reserved for the ‘Assamese People’. The composition of the House shall be from among the SC, ST and the tribes/communities of the State (seats allotted in descending order of population of each tribe on rotational basis).”


Employment

Here too the Committee recommends amendments to Article 371 B to enable:

·80 to 100 percent of Group C and D level posts in Central Government/Semi-central Government/Central PSUs/Private Sector including under PPP Mode falling and arising in Assam should be reserved for Assamese people.

·80 to 100% of jobs under Government of Assam and State Government undertakings and 70 to 100% of vacancies arising in private partnerships including PPP mode in State of Assam shall be reserved for Assamese people.

 Land and Land Rights

This is where a whole host of protections are granted to ensure land remains in control of Assamese people. The report says, “Unless the land rights of the “Assamese People” are protected along with the political rights, it will be a futile exercise to adopt measures for full implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord in its true spirit, keeping in mind the background facts.” Some of the key recommendations are as follows:

·In addition to tribal belts and blocks under Chapter X of ALRR 1886, the State Government should identify the Revenue Circles of the State, where only “Assamese People” can own and possess land and transfer of such land in these areas are limited to them alone. The selected urban areas under the Assam Municipal Act will however be excluded without affecting the interest of the Assamese people.

·Government should take immediate steps to prevent shrinkage/decrease of Prime Agricultural Land. There has to be complete ban on transfer of such land for non-agricultural purposes.

·Section 8 of the Assam Agricultural Land (Regulation of Re-classification and Transfer of Land for Agricultural Purpose) Act, 2015 which allows violation of the law pertaining to re-classification should be repealed. Whenever, re-classification is sought, the public opinion in a meeting of the Gram Sabha will be a mandatory condition

The above recommendations are significant as they provide protection to indigenous and forest dwelling communities that live on forest land and depend on forest produce.

Another key provision deals with the erosion prone Char areas. The report recommends, “Char areas should be surveyed and newly created Char areas should be treated as Government land and erosion affected people should get priority in allotment. Alternatively, Char land is to be taken over for agricultural and allied activities like dairy, fodder plantation etc through community ownership.”

It is noteworthy that due to erosion in these riverine areas, often entire villages are washed away and people have to relocate bag and baggage often losing important documentation in the process. As documents are the only way for people to defend their Indian citizenship, they are often the most valuable possession of these people.

Some other recommendations have been made with respect to administration and management of Tea Garden land. Recommendations also pertain to allotment of land patta to Assamese people.


Language, Culture and Natural Resources

While Assamese shall continue to remain the official language of the state of Assam, the Committee also recommends protection and promotion of indigenous tribal languages including, Bodo, Mishing, Karbi, Dimasa, Koch-Rajbongshi, Rabha, Deuri, Tiwa, Tai and others. The Committee says, “The Four Language Policy should be given appropriate legislative protection.”

The Committee has also made a series of recommendations to protect ancient monuments, and institutions like Sattras, Naamghars and other indigenous religious institutions. The Committee also recommends the “preservation and documentation of the Zikirs and Zaris composed by Ajan Pir, the celebrated Sufi saint of Assam. Efforts should be made for translation of Zikirs in various indigenous languages of the State.”

As far natural resources are concerned, the Committee recommends, “Value addition to the State’s natural resources, both renewable or otherwise, be carried out within the State itself so as to generate economic activities and employment opportunities in the State.” It adds, “The Assam State Biodiversity Board should be strengthened with sufficient financial assistance from both the Central and the State Government for effective functioning and taking up measures for consideration of the biodiversity of Assam.”

The entire Report of the Committee on Implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord Constituted by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India may be read here: 

 

Related:

Is MHA distancing itself from Assam Clause 6 committee report?

Does the Assam MSME Ordinance threaten indigenous land in the state?

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Subscribe to Sabrangindia