In a letter written to chief secretary of Rajasthan government Usha Sharma, home secretary Abhay Kumar Jain and Rajasthan’s Director General of Police (DGP) ML Lather, PUCL President Kavita Srivastava raised several questions over the role of the administration and the police officials
NEW DELHI – People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a prominent rights group, demanded disciplinary and legal action against the administrative officials including district magistrate (DM), additional district magistrate (ADM), sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) and the police officials including superintendent of police (SP) and additional SP over their omissions and commissions during a riot in Karauli, Rajasthan.
In a letter written to chief secretary of Rajasthan government Usha Sharma, home secretary Abhay Kumar Jain and Rajasthan’s Director General of Police (DGP) ML Lather, PUCL President Kavita Srivastava raised several questions over the role of the administration and the police officials.
On April 2, communal violence broke out in Karauli after some Hindutva groups took out a rally raising abusive slogans against Muslims. Dozens of shops and houses were set on fire in the ensuing violence.
The PUCL asked the state government to remove the DM, the ADM and the SDM from their respective posts for ‘irresponsibly granting permission for the Hindutva rally, with abusive slogans and DJs’. Similarly, it asked the government to remove the policemen including the SP and addl SP for not stopping the abusive rally, which aimed at humiliating Muslims in their mohalla (street). It also demanded that the police officials be made accused in the FIR lodged on 2 April over the riot.
Citing the report of The Wire with regard to torture of a Muslim boy by a policeman, the PUCL demanded registration of an FIR against the erring police official in the case.
Apart from that, it also demanded immediate arrest of the people who led the hate rally, involved in burning shops and those who pelted stones and damaged vehicles and the DJ and other properties.
The rights group warned the government against allowing such Hindutva groups to take out rallies through Muslim areas during the upcoming festivals like Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti.
With regard to the police conduct, the PUCL posed five questions highlighting the omissions and the commissions of the admiration.
1. Why was the permission granted for the rally of the Hindutva lot led by Bipin Behari Shukla whose affiliation to RSS is well known, to go through the Hatwara area which is predominantly Muslim? The SDM, ADM and District Collector who must have granted permission, need to be made accountable for this irresponsible decision. It is important to know, under whose pressure they agreed to the route that the rallyists wanted to take.
2. Why was the motorcycle rally of more than 700 bikers with one pillion rider each without the mandatory helmet, carrying big bamboo sticks, shouting hateful slogans like ‘topi wala bhi sar jhuka ke bolega, Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Jai Shri Ram’ with equally objectionable songs played on the DJ, to coincide with Asr namaz (prayer at the dusk), allowed to enter the street where Muslims reside. Why were they not stopped when the police and the SDM must have realised that the purpose of the rally was to only verbally abuse and humiliate Muslims?
3. Why was the police almost absent from the area at the time of the riot? Videos clearly show that there were hardly ten policemen on the spot. No policemen are posted on terraces, to keep a watchful eye on what was happening around them. How a criminal negligence of such a magnitude could not come to the notice senior police officials where a rally of frenzied mob was allowed to enter the Muslim dominated area. Neither the SP nor the Additional SP are seen walking with the rally when it entered the Muslim locality. How could they have left it to a deputy SP. Should not the SP and Addl SP be made accountable for being so irresponsible?
4. Why the police played indifferent bystanders when the hate rally was proceeding, or when the stone pelting was carried out by a section of Muslims in the Hatwara area and again silently watching when the Hindu rallyists on their way back from the Hatwara burnt shops of Muslims and Hindus near Phuta Kot?
5. Why was the police allowed to pick up, beat up and torture young Muslim men? See this one story that thewire.in has published where a 17-year-old was brutally beaten up by the police and was forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’.
The PUCL also drew the attention of the administration towards the shabby treatment meted out to Clarion India journalist Ahmed Kasim and Ghazala Ahmed, a reporter with another news website, The Congnate, by the state police. Both of them were harassed by the police officials on duty when they went to cover the aftermath of the riots on Friday.
Kasim said that they visited the area only after taking due permission from district magistrate. But when they were returning, a policeman started making a video of them. When Kasim questioned him about his misdemeanor, the policeman pushed him back. They had to let go of him after the intervention of a senior official.
“It was obvious that the police misbehaved with Kasim and Gazala as they were Muslims as the latter was wearing a hijab,” said the PUCL about the incident.