86 Behind Bars in Tamil Nadu; Legal Follow-up Against Anti-Muslim Propaganda Pays Off

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Syed Ali Mujtaba | Clarion India

CHENNAI – Tamil Nadu Additional Director General of Police V Baskaran, informed the Madras High Court that 86 people have, so far, been arrested in the state for spreading communal hatred against the Muslim community by linking them with Covid-19.

A division bench of Justice M M Sundresh and Justice R Hemalatha is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by one, ASA Umar Farooq, seeking action on over 700 complaints filed in this regard that pending in various police stations across the state.

Umar Farooq, through a writ petition prayed for a direction to the authorities concerned to stop the media and other agencies and individuals from communalising Covid-19 issue.

In response, the DGP filed a counter affidavit before the division bench stating that so far, 159 cases have been registered against 356 people of whom 86 have been arrested.

As per the report, Madurai tops the list with 19 cases followed by Erode (17) and Pudukottai (12). In Chennai, eight FIRs are registered against eight accused.

The court, after recording the submission, has adjourned the hearing to July 13.

A wave of communal propaganda against Muslims had begun to sweep across the state right after the New Delhi Tablighi Jamaat Markaz was declared as hotspot of the novel coronavirus.

In due course of time, innumerable incidents of violent attacks on innocent Muslims were reported from across the country as a direct result of a vicious campaign against the entire community. The social media was awash with hate posts alleging that the coronavirus was a planned conspiracy by the Muslims. Fruit and vegetable vendors belonging to the community were boycotted and hounded in northern parts of India.

With a view to counter the propaganda, some Muslim organisation in Tamil Nadu filed complaints in the police stations, identifying the hate mongers post objectionable messages against the community on online media or airing on broadcast media. There were 700 such complaints filed in Tamil Nadu.

In a welcome development, response to this rising Islamophobia through the legal follow-up resulted in the arrest of 86 people in Tamil Nadu so far.

Similar campaign to fight anti-Muslim propaganda is taken up by some organisations in other southern Indian states as well. More such legal intervention is needed elsewhere in the country to rein in the hate mongers out to demonise the Muslim community in India.

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