‘Targeting of Muslims’: Fact-Finding Report Details Police Excesses in Assam Evictions

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The fact-finding report of Assam’ incident “Eviction, State Violence and Hate” was released on Monday in New Delhi.

The report details the killings of Haque and Farid and the trauma the families are experiencing since then

Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — The recent  evictions in Assam in the name of removing “encroachments”  that saw violence and killing of civilians was aimed at targeting the Muslim minority of the state where the politics of the ruling party involves “deliberate process of alienating and othering” them, according to a report by a fact-finding team of Delhi-based civil society activists who visited Assam recently.

The report titled “Eviction, State Violence and Hate” says the killings of Moinul Haq and Shaikh Farid in police violence need to be seen in the context of the politics of the state and the recent communal statements of Chief Minister Himanta Biswas Sarma.

The report released on Monday at a press conference in New Delhi gives instances of recent statements that were directed at the Muslim community calling them “Miyas”,” illegal immigrants” and targeting AIUDF and terming its president Badruddin Ajmal “enemy of Assam”.

Speaking at the press conference, Farah Naqvi, a prominent voice in Delhi’s civil society circles, called the evictions in Assam “a hate induced displacement” and an  “outcome of hate being spread against Muslims across the country.

Nadeem Khan, the founder of ‘United Against Hate’ group  described the evictions as “families have been uprooted in a manner as if no life existed in that area ever”.

Student leader Fahad Ahmad who was part of the fact-finding team said that in popular perception the evicted families are being labelled as “encroachers.” “But they have been living on the land for decades,” Ahmad said.

Supreme Court advocate Sanjay Hegde who spoke on the legality of the police response said that police committed excesses while dealing with protests during evictions. Right of private defence is every one’s right which Moinul Haque tried to exercise but police fired to kill him, Hegde said.

The report details the killings of Haque and Farid and the trauma the families are experiencing since then.

That fateful day Farid was on way back home after collecting his Aadhar card from the local post office when he received bullets, says the report.

The report also mentions accounts of those injured including wounded by bullets. According to a report, Raziya Khatoon, 26, was one among those injured by a bullet. She was admitted to a hospital in Guwahati.

She was shot while she was returning by the police who were stationed at the top of hills in the area. She had her two-year-old daughter in her arms when a bullet pierced her waist.

She collapsed as the bullet hit her, with blood oozing out her body. She was accompanied by her two other children, with one of them as young as seven.

Similarly, 13-year-old Ashraful Hussain was also injured on the shoulder after being shot at by the police. He had gone to meet his brother to help him move his household items, after being instructed by the police.

The report also gives details about the police version into the incidents of violence justifying the action. A case under different sections of the Indian Penal Code has been filed implicating those who have been victims of police violence.

Nadeem Khan, who led the fact-finding team, said that the police has filed an open FIR and are now detaining and arresting those who have been evicted. “The son of slain Moinul Haque is being questioned by police everyday asking him to tell them the names of activists and journalists he speaks with.”

The fact-finding report recommends that the families of Farid and Haque and those injured should be given compensation by the government. It demands action against police officials involved in the operation including SP Darrang Susanta Biswa Sarma who happens to be a brother of the chief minister.

The government should announce a comprehensive rehabilitation plan before any further evictions, the report said.

Salman Ahmad of Students Islamic Organization was part of another delegation which toured Assam and met senior government officials including Assam Chief Minister. He said the delegation, that included representatives of Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulama-i-Islam, brought up the issue of police excesses with CM Sarma but he offered no explanation. “However, the CM agreed that all those evicted are Indian citizens and not Bangladeshi illegal immigrants,” said Salman.

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