Sunday, May 22, 2022

Recent Incidents Show How India May Be Normalising Hate

Over 20 days have passed since the violent speech and no arrest have been made by the Uttarakhand Police in the Haridwar Dharma Sansad Case. The police also sounded very sympathetic to the young woman arrested in 'Bulli Bai' Muslim women auction case.

Recent Incidents Show How India May Be Normalising Hate
Screengrab from Haridwar Dharma Sansad in which hate speeches against Muslims were made Twitter

In India, now all you have to do is to follow Covid guidelines and you are free to incite mass violence against Muslims and Christians. It should not sound dramatic if we look at how the police of Uttarakhand is treating those involved in the congregation which called for violence against Muslims on December 17, 18 and 19 of 2021.

In Haridwar the saints of the Dharma Sansad from where the calls to annihilate Muslims were given have announced that they will hold a revenge rally (Pratikar Sabha) on 16 January to protest the FIRs registered against them. The FIRs in question were registered very reluctantly by the Uttarakhand police and that too after the videos of the genocidal speeches created an outrage in the world outside India.

Even 21 days after the violent calls , no arrest has been made. When asked why more strident sections were not invoked in the FIR the response of the police was that since the calls have not led to any actual violence, there was no need to apply more serious sections.The saints have not denied their anti-Muslim, anti-Christian exhortations. They have in fact been repeating them on different TV channels and have announced more such Dharma Sansads in Uttarakhand and elsewhere.

The calls for mass murder of Muslims are seen as benign expression of feeling of Hindus. The open display of arms and armed training was also treated lightly. The police said that they were traditional things and cannot be treated as dangerous.People rightly pointed out that the attitude of the police would have been different had the religious identity of the accused been different. But one felt that after their initial disinclination, this time the police would be more alert and pre-empt any such hate mongering gathering.

But when asked about the revenge meet, the police said that the organisers don't need permission to do this. All they have to do is to follow covid guidelines.The precedence is there. The police know the intent of the organisers. That they have been calling for extermination of Muslims. But it does mind such a rally again, does not even think that they need permission to hold what they themselves have called a revenge rally.The Uttarakhand police also sounded very sympathetic to the young woman who was arrested for her role in the online auction of the Muslim women. The police chief thought it necessary to talk about her loss of her parents and a possibility that she might have got involved in the crime for money. This when he was nowhere associated with the investigation and knew little about the woman. But his attempt to humanise the accused was not missed by the victims of her action.

The other scene of action is Gurgaon. For the last four months it is witnessing regular disruption of the collective Juma namaz by some Hindu groups. The police has been allowing the hooligans, well identified by it, to return again and again and attack the prayers.

The Muslims of Gurgaon have lodged at least five complaints against the culprits but the police has refrained from filing even one FIR against them. It says that it has to first do its own investigation and establish facts before filing the FIR. Meanwhile the known culprits have been allowed to indulge in violence.But the Gurgaon police forgot its own principle when it filed an FIR against Md Adeeb, an ex-parliamentarian and one of the Gurgaon residents who have been negotiating with the police trying to persuade it to take action against the hooligans who have been disrupting Juma namaz repeatedly.An FIR was lodged against Md Adeeb along with two others at Sector 40 police station under sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. The complainants include those who have been part of the group of goons attacking the Friday namaz.

The Telegraph reports that “The complainants, Dinesh Bharti, Himmat and Vikky Kumar, accused Adeeb of disrupting communal harmony and trying to grab land, actions that could lead to riots.They alleged that repeated attempts have been made to grab the land of locals.
Bharti claimed that in Sector 40, a plot where the ancestors of one Mangtu Manihar were laid to rest has been declared a graveyard and it is being demanded that a mosque be constructed there.”So, a person like Md Adeeb is facing a charge of land grabbing!The police cannot say that since there was a complaint it was bound by law to file an FIR. It has consistently denied to do so in the case of the disruption of namaz where it knows too well who the culprits are as it has itself been confronted by the same people whose complaint has been converted into an FIR against Md Adeeb.

When I spoke to Adeeb Sb and other friends in Gurgaon they spoke without rancour about the role of the police. Poor chaps, their hands are tied. What can they do if they have other instructions from their political bosses?I found this indulgence strange. The police officers draw their authority and strength from the Constitution and not the political bosses. They have their duty defined by the book of the land. Their mandate is to protect people from violence. Their duty is to prevent violence and not wait for it and watch it taking place.

As a plea in the Supreme Courtby Alok Rai and Syeda Hameed against hate speeches argues, “Hate speech lays the groundwork for later, broad attacks on vulnerable sections that can range from discrimination, to ostracism, segregation, deportation, violence and, in the most extreme cases, to genocide.”“There is a constitutional tort that has already been committed, for the audience at these rallies already carries home a certain stigmatized impression about Muslims and an encouragement to not interact with them socially and economically.”

It points out that the police have a duty of care towards those who are more vulnerable. In all the cited cases we see it is the Muslim community that needs care from the state and the police.The political bosses can act according to their ideology but the police cannot but act according to the norms set by the constitution. It preserves the secular nature of the state.The police unfortunately failed the constitution again and again. In Uttarakhand, in Gurgaon and even in Chhattisgarh from where news of call of boycott of Muslims is heard and before that open calls for violence against them and Christians were given in a public meeting.In Varanasi posters have been pasted warning non-Hindus not to enter the ghats of Ganga and other places they have declared as sacred for Hindus.

It is a threat and unconstitutional but the Bajrang dal and VHP people roam around pasting on the walls across the city. The police have not acted. There is no news of any FIR against this act.But the skies fall when an exasperated Muslim says that there is life beyond Modi and Yogi ,that the nation ll outlive them. What do the police officers say then in their defence? Hopefully the Constitution will survive this dreadful regime. Would the police officials not be answerable to it then? Is this question a call to take revenge from the police who allows a poor Muslim rickshwawalla beaten up in its presence, churches and missionary schools attacked before its eyes?

These police officers, celebrated as the brightest minds when selected in the elite survive every year and so ever ready to morally compromise, to allow crime against Muslims and Christians and yet ask us to believe that all they are doing is duty! Our police officers know history. They know policing was tuned to the ideological end of the Nazis. They also know how the most powerful took a plea that they were working under orders from above. And history did not accept it. The police officers cannot pass the buck. They will be judged by their commitment to the constitution and humanity. They cannot escape it.