By Ram Puniyani
15 June, 2013
Rihai Manch, a forum for getting justice to the falsely implicated youth in the cases of acts of terror has currently (June 2013), held a protest Dharna (sit in) to demand the arrest of police and IB officials responsible for the death of Maulana Khalid Mujahid, to implement the R.D. Nimesh Commission report and to release the innocent Muslim youth implicated in acts of terror. This campaign is getting broader support from more human rights groups and affected community. This is the major effort by a civic society group to democratically protest against the insensitive and biased state machinery, to pressurise it to come to the path of justice.
The Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh Yadav Government in UP, had earlier claimed to be the major champion of the cause of Muslims, to the extent that the main leader of this party Mulayam Singh Yadav was derogatorily called Mulla Mulayam. But as he came to power last time also during his regime many a communal episodes, violence, took place under the very nose of the Government. Currently also Akhilesh Yadav‘s regime is marked by over 27 episodes of major riots. On the top of that this Government in its election promise had said that the innocents, implicated in the acts of terror will be released. On the contrary, the death of Maulana Khalid Mujahid in the police custody has raised sufficient doubts about the intentions of the Government. Even R.D. Nimesh Commission report was kept in the cold storage from last one year, and now when it has been released finally, the government is refraining from taking action, hiding behind the argument that it will be discussed in future Assembly session before action is taken on the report. As such Government has full prerogative to take action at Cabinet level. People fear that this commission report may also face the same fate as the other commission reports, which are generally put on the backburner or put in the cold storage.
Ashsish Khaitan, one of the journalists with dogged determination, sensitivity and honesty, has floated a portal, Gulail (Slingshot) to highlight the investigative reports related to the framing of innocents by authorities. Many an officers have falsely implicated innocents, despite knowing the truth, to enhance their own career prospects or to due to the biases which have gripped the large sections of the law enforcement agencies. These agencies regard that only youth from one religious community are responsible for the acts of terror. Khaitan also opines that putting forward the truth of such cases is also not of much use; as in such cases reports of honest investigations are overshadowed by the biased reporting and opinions in the print, T.V. and social media. He is pinning his hopes on judiciary and the people’s campaigns for getting justice. The ongoing dharna in UP is drawing the attention of the social groups and is being sustained for over two weeks by the social activists and the pained and anguished community, whose young ones’ are being incarcerated and have to suffer not only the future career prospects but have also to get the blame, which ostracize them from social life. In this direction various efforts have been undertaken in the past but after temporary response and restraint the investigation agencies lapse in to their usual prejudiced actions.
Not only can this be seen in the case of UP, but overall one sees the wide gulf between the promises and actual actions of the so called ‘secular parties’. While in Maharashtra the Congress coalition came to power with the promise of implementing Srikrishna Commission report of 92-93 riots, after coming to power on this promise it put forward the usual excuses and the guilty police officers and political leadership continued to be in their positions of power despite sufficient proof of their involvement in instigating and participating in the riots., As for as justice to the victims and action against the guilty is concerned Samajwadi Party seems to be no different. The R.D. Nimesh Commission has given the full truth based on which it can proceed to punish the guilty police officers, but that’s what is being avoided. The credentials of so called secular parties are more are less similar, be it the Congress or be it the Samajwadi Party, they have very opportunistic attitude as far as the justice to minorities is concerned. While communal parties are out to do away with the rights of minorities and deny them justice through and through, these so called secular parties have dual character. They promise and are unable to deliver as their calculations are built around the vote bank politics.
This is due to multiple factors. One is that these supposedly secular parties are also being trapped by the considerations other than the values of secularism. So, controlling of communal violence, which is possible if there is adequate determination to do so, is not being done effectively. The second reason is the communalized state machinery, the investigating agencies, police and bureaucracy. How to investigate the cases, how to frame the innocents is an easy enough job, which the authorities do and their Khaki uniform empowers them to do it with ease. It is precisely due to this that the fate of inquiry commission reports has not been significant one. Starting from Madon Commission of inquiry into Bhiwandi riots, to Srikrishna Commission and Liberhan Commission reports, the outcome, taking action based on the report, is close to zero as the implementing authorities, political leadership is opportunist and lacks the strength to stick to principles.
So where do we go from here. While the communal forces are out to proactively browbeat the religious minorities, the secular formations do not have the spine to ensure justice and equity. Its’ here, that the social activism which has prominently come up during last two decades in particular, needs to be strengthened. The activist groups have taken up these issues seriously and the initiatives by social activists is a major landmark in this direction. One wonders, why are the left parties, which should be principally secular to the core are shunning these efforts. Their joining these efforts to get equity and justice to minorities will put pressure on the parties like Congress and Samajwadi to try to become sincere in their efforts.
The intensification of efforts through judiciary and popular protests has to be intensified. The rot set in our democratic polity due to the infiltration of communalism through different mechanisms has been a very dangerous one to the values of our Constitution. It is time that we as a nation introspect and get over the biases and prejudiced behaviours towards weaker sections of our society. The path to social progress is paved through amity and justice. Professional attitude in investigation of acts of violence, communal amity and justice for all are the prerequisites of social progress, progress of society in the real sense.
Ram Puniyani was a professor in biomedical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and took voluntary retirement in December 2004 to work full time for communal harmony in India. He is involved with human rights activities from last two decades.He is associated with various secular and democratic initiatives like All India Secular Forum, Center for Study of Society and Secularism and ANHAD.