A fact-finding report titled “Humanity under attack in Tripura; #Muslim lives matter” has revealed that if the BJP government in Tripura wanted to, they could have stopped the violence but they chose to give a free hand to the Hindutva mobs in the state.
The report released at the Press Club of India on Tuesday, was penned by Supreme Court lawyers Ehtesham Hashmi, Advocate Amit Srivastav (Co-ordination Committee, Lawyers for Democracy), Advocate Ansar Indori (Secretary, Human Rights Organization, National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO) and Advocate Mukesh, Civil Rights Organization People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL, DELHI).
The report argued that Hindu nationalist organisations such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) carried out rallies and had brought JCB machines (normally employed in heavy construction work) along with them.
This report comes at a time when the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also raised concerns about the anti-Muslim violence in Tripura.
“The police were insistent that we cannot attempt to unearth the reasons behind the violence and asked us to go away,” remarked Supreme Court lawyer Ehtesham Hashmi who was a member of fact-finding committee.
When asked about the violence being in response to the violence in Bangladesh, Hashmi remarked that that was just an excuse and if one had to use that “no minority in any country would survive.”
The report further said that while police officials were aware of the situation, they did not prepare accordingly. Locals were said to be alarmed at witnessing a mob of over 5000 people. A quick perusal at Rowa market in Panisagar, the report revealed, showed that a total of 11 shops were burnt. The mob at one point stopped to douse the fire which they instigated in one shop as the neighbouring business belonged to a Hindu. Post dousing the fire, the shop owned by a Muslim was looted.
The report also rejected Tripura police’s claims that the Chamtila masjid was not vandalized. The lawyers found proof of vandalism and further discovered that when people tried to register a complaint, they were sent back thus establishing the police’s complicity.
While the report spoke well of lower-level officials and a few minority leaders of the BJP, it said that the authorities were mostly complicit in the violence.
The report concludes with a list of eight demands:
- The Government should make an inquiry committee headed by a retired High Court judge and get the whole incident investigated.
- Separate FIR must be filed on the complaint of victims.
- Due to this incident, all the people whose businesses have suffered financial loss should get appropriate compensation by the state government and it should be compensated soon so that these innocent people can get their life back on track and their businesses and work can resume smoothly.
- The government should get the religious places damaged in arson and sabotage rebuilt at their expense.
- Despite the possibility of violence, the police officer not taking any action should be held responsible. They should be immediately removed from their post and the police station and a new police officer should be appointed.
- Strict action should be taken against persons and organizations who raised slogans insulting Prophet Mohammad in the rally so that the cordial atmosphere of the state is not spoiled again.
- Strict legal action should be taken against the people who create false and provocative messages and them viral on social media, and against all the people and organizations who repeatedly incite people and create ruckus for the rally. Case should be registered against these people and strict action should be taken against them.
- Whoever is guilty in this riot, and have engaged in looting and arson, should be investigated in the fast track court without any discrimination.