ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Police, the Law and Bigotry

The Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) mourns the killing of 28-year-old Mohsin Sadiqe Sheikh who was beaten to death by 30-40 members of Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) on 2 June in Hadaspar, Pune. Media reports suggest that this was not a senseless crime, of a mob gone berserk at the spur of the moment, but an act of a deliberate targeting of Muslims by members of HRS. Because the very same men moved around on motorcycles and after killing Sheikh went on to set fire to Muslim properties in nearby Kalepadal area. Shops owned by Muslims were targeted including bakeries, hair-cutting saloons and meat shops. All this happened while the Pune police, barely 15 minutes from the area, kept away!

According to local shopkeepers (The Times of India, 9 June) HRS members entered Kalepadal around 10.15 pm and remained there until midnight. Clearly, following the killing of Mohsin, the police either failed to take seriously the likelihood of mob violence spreading to other areas, or chose to remain oblivious about what the HRS men were doing. In another remarkable feat, the Pune police, which comes under the state government, was quick to declare the crime as a mere “law and order” problem. Therefore, six FIRs have been registered pertaining to criminal trespass, rioting and causing damage to property. And, while the police have arrested Dhananjay Desai, the leader of HRS, it remains to be seen whether the police will deal with the killing of Sheikh, attacks on Muslims and looting and destruction of Muslim-owned properties as acts of communal violence or not. As of now Desai has been accused of criminal conspiracy and murder.

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