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Violence against Minorities

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We, retired civil servants belonging to different services and batches, wish to register our deep concern at the continuing incidents of mindless violence in the country, especially those targeting the minorities, and the lackadaisical res­ponse of the law enforcement machinery to these attacks.

The killing of Mohammed Afrazul, a migrant worker from West Bengal in Rajsamand, Rajasthan, on the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid has deeply shaken each of us. The recording of the brutal act on video and the circulation of the justification for the killing over the internet, cuts at the roots of an inclusive and pluralistic society which draws its inspiration from the teachings of Buddha, Mahavira, Ashoka, Akbar, the Sikh gurus, Hindu sages and Mahatma Gandhi. The violent incidents in Udaipur in support of the alleged killer are a pointer to how deep the sectarian poison has spread among the population of this country.

In the last nine months, we have seen the death of Pehlu Khan on 3 April 2017, after he was attacked by a crowd of so-called gau rakshaks near Behror, Alwar, on 1 April. The killers named by him have not been arrested so far. However, seven others have been arrested and subsequently let off on bail.

The second killing on 16 June 2017 of Zafar Khan was in connection with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign. The municipal chairman and other safai karamcharis reportedly beat him to death while he was opposing the naming-and-shaming process of the open defecation-free campaign in Pratapgarh. There is no arrest so far with the police claiming that Zafar Khan died of a heart attack.  

The third killing in June 2017 was that of 16-year-old Junaid Khan following a dispute over seats on the train in which he was returning after Eid shopping in Delhi. Following abuses and  insults, he was stabbed and thrown out of the train at Asoti station, where he bled to death.  

After an outcry against this incident both within and outside India, the Prime Minister made a statement that “killing people in the name of ‘gau bhakti’ is unacceptable.” He repeated this once again, a day before the parliamentary session started on 15 July 2017, at an all India meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party, where he placed the onus of taking stringent action in these cases on the state governments. However, the killings continue without any check.  

The fourth killing took place on 27 August 2017, when Anwar Hussain and Hafizul Sheikh, both 19 years of age, were transporting cattle purchased from Dhupguri in West Bengal to Tufanganj in Cooch Behar. A mob accosted them in the early hours of the day, and when they could not pay the `50,000 demanded of them, beat them both to death. Though three persons were arrested for the lynching, efforts to identify others in the mob have not produced any result so far.  

The fifth killing happened on 10 November 2017, when Umair Khan and his friends, who were transporting cows, were fired on by so-called gau rakshaks in Govindgarh tehsil in Alwar district. Umair Khan was killed, and his body was carried to the railway tracks in an attempt to destroy all evidence. Of the seven killers, only two were arrested. However, two of the victims, Tahir and Jawed, were placed behind bars.  

Apart from the murders, we are deeply concerned to see the acceleration of a process of ghettoisation through organised resistance to sale of properties to Muslims, or refusal by owners to have them as tenants. A recent case reported in the media relates the prevention of a Muslim buyer from taking possession of a house that he had paid for, in the Maliwara locality of Meerut. The daily indignities that Muslims face in this, and many other ways, are bound to lead to an atmosphere of resentment within that religious community, which will further vitiate an already poisoned environment.

In the past few weeks in December 2017, we are witness to increasing targeting of Christians on the observation of Christmas. On 15 December 2017, police detained groups singing Christmas carols in Satna. When a group of priests went to make enquiries, they were also reportedly detained by the police. In Uttar Pradesh, the Hindu Jagran Manch warned Christian schools in Aligarh against observing Christmas. In Rajasthan, members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad allegedly stormed a Christmas function on the grounds that this was an attempt at forced conversion.

We seek now and without delay, a clear response from the Prime Minister and his government on these issues, along with immediate and firm action against the perpetrators of such hate crimes against minorities in this country by the respective law enforcement authorities.

  It is essential for each of us, as individuals, to reflect on the repercussions of a situation where present trends could threaten the peace and cohesion, which is a fundamental prerequisite for our growth and development, and for all of us—most of all, for those who belong to the majority community—to go beyond mere reflection, to stand up, oppose, and publicly condemn the communalisation of our society and our country.

  1 S P Ambrose
  2 Ishrat Aziz
  3 Vappala Balachandran  
4 Meeran C Borwankar  
5 Sundar Burra  
6 Som Chaturvedi  
7 Javid Chaudhuri  
8 Kalyani Chaudhuri  
9 Anna Dani  
10 Surjit K Das  
11 Vibha Puri Das  
12 Nareshwar Dayal  
13 Keshav Desiraju  
14 Sushil Dubey  
15 K P Fabian  
16 Bhaskar Ghose  
17 Hirak Ghosh  
18 Balagopal Gopalan  
19 R Govindarajan  
20 Meena Gupta  
21 Ravi Vira Gupta  
22 Wajahat Habibullah  
23 Deepa Hari  
24 Sajjad Hassan  
25 Gurbachan Jagat  
26 Kamal Jaswal  
27 K John Koshy  
28. Ajai Kumar  
29 Arun Kumar  
30 Brijesh Kumar  
31 Chaman Lal  
32 P M S Malik  
33 Harsh Mander  
34 Aditi Mehta  
35 Dalip Mehta  
36 Sonalini Mirchandani  
37 Dr L Mishra  
38 Sunil Mitra  
39 Ruchira Mukerjee  
40 Anup Mukerji  
41 Deb Mukharji  
42 Pranab S Mukhopadhyay  
43 Sobha Nambisan  
44 Sivakami Palanimuthu  
45 Niranjan Pant  
46 P R Parthasarathy  
47 K Sujatha Rao  
48 M Y Rao  
49 N K Raghupathy
  50 Satwant Reddy
  51 Julio Ribeiro  
52 Sayeed Rizvi
  53 Aruna Roy  
54 Manabendra N Roy  
55 ManMohan Sagar
  56 Umrao Salodia  
57 Deepak Sanan  
58 Deepak Sandhu
59 E A S Sarma
60 N C Saxena  
61 A. Selvaraj  
62 Ardhendu Sen  
63 Aftab Seth  
64 Har Mander Singh  
65 Jawhar Sircar   66 Geetha Thoopal   67 Ramani Venkatesan

Updated On : 5th Feb, 2018

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