Govt seeking compensation for damages to public property must pay civilians for ruining their lives

By Masoom Moradabadi

Following the historic decision of Bombay High Court, Allahabad High Court too has done an excellent job by providing justice to the victims. In the first instance Tablighi Jamaat attendees were released and in the second case all allegations against Dr Kafeel Khan have been rejected.

These two judicious decisions have restored the trust in the judiciary of those who, in this beloved country of ours, have been facing injustice on a regular basis. The comments made by the High Courts in both cases is like applying balm on the wounds of those who, for a long time, have been left like destitute without any support from anywhere.

The observations made by the high courts in  these two cases prove the fact that while on one hand the allegations of provocation and harming communal harmony levelled against Dr Kafeel khan were sheer lies; on the other hand [mischievous] titles of ‘Corona Bombs’ and ‘Corona Jihadis’ given to Tablighi Jamaat were meant to target [and create hatred against] Muslims.

The vital question that needs to be asked and answered here is: What action has been taken against those anti-Muslim elements in the government machinery, police and the media who had played this [dirty] game; and what steps would be taken to rehabilitate the victims? In the given circumstances—when the government [seems to have no agenda but] formulating policies targeting [and persecuting] a particular community, for no other reason but its faith—asking such questions has no meaning though. [in such a situation like this] where can one expect any good to come from? Yet a big question arises: when the [state] governments are forcing the public [read Muslims] to pay compensation for the damage to public property during disturbances, the public too has the right to use its constitutional right and demand the government to pay damages for [the financial, social and psychological harm inflicted on it through]  false cases. It too has the right to get the communal officers punished who are targeting and victimising minorities.

UP Government had taken stringent action against anti-CAA protesters [in December 2019]. They were accused of damaging public properties and [false] cases were registered against them. Several of them, included social activists S.R. Darapuri, Sadaf Jafar and the convenor of Rihai Manch Mohammad Shoeb Advocate,  were arrested and put in jails. In order to harass them their photos were displayed at public places like hardened criminals. When the Allahabad High Court ordered the UP Government to remove these photographs, it adopted an intransigent posture. Anti-CAA protesters in UP are facing cases and warrants of confiscation of properties have been issued against those who could not be apprehended. They are being forced to pay heavy penalties.

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Obviously, those who had taken to streets to protest against a brazenly communal amendment in citizenship laws were merely using their constitutional right. But the state government treated them as criminals and has turned their lives into hell. This action was a direct attack on their democratic and constitutional rights against which all fair-minded people of the country raised their voices.

And now Delhi police is following the footsteps of UP Government. It has registered cases against all of the leading social activists who had participated in anti-CAA protests for taking part in the riots in north east Delhi. Their names have been included in FIRs. This includes the names of world renowned human rights activists like Harsh Mandar, Professor Apoorva Anand and Professor Yoginder Yadav. These are the people who have dedicated their lives to get justice to oppressed people. In addition, students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University have also been accused of participating in the riot and put in jails. They have been charged under anti-terror law UAPA. Police has been strictly opposing their application for bail. In contrast, not even FIRs have been registered against BJP politicians who had performed leading roles in inciting violence and riot. Courts have raised questions on the biased role of police in these cases. But the police is targeting each and every political opponent of the ruling party.

This is not the first incident though in which police and the administration are targeting innocent people and framing false cases against them. There is a history of police aggression against weaker sections of the society, specially the Muslims. This is the sole reason that Indian jails are full of Muslim inmates. According to the latest report of National Crime Bureau the proportion of Muslims in Indian jails is far higher than their population. Muslim population in the country is 14% but in jails they are higher than 18%.

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Whenever intelligence agencies launch anti-terrorism operations, they target and detain only Muslims. In several cases law courts have honourably exonerated the youths who had been implicated in false cases of terrorism and kept in jails for years. But by the time they are released precious time of their lives is already wasted. Why no action is taken against those who had framed these youths in false cases?

You will remember that few years ago when Amir, a young man from Delhi, was exonerated of all the charges against him, the question if those who had ruined his life will ever be punished, was asked with great seriousness and intensity. The manner in which false cases are being framed against ani-CAA protesters and the [shameful and outrageous] fashion in which they are being incarcerated, begs the question once again: who would compensate the youths for the destruction of their lives? We have two fresh examples of it before us. The first one is the judgement of Aurangabad Bench of Bombay High Court in which it has reprimanded the police, media and government machinery and has quashed all the allegations levelled against Tablighi Jamaat regarding the spread of Coronavirus. The second example is of Dr Kafeel Khan of Gorakhpur who was vindicated last week by the Allahabad High Court. The Court exonerated him of the allegations of making a provocative speech and creating communal hatred and dismissed the actions of NSA being taken against Dr Kafeel.

In both of these cases justice has been victorious and the forces targeting the Muslims under various pretexts have had to face humiliation. Now the need of the hour is that the government should compensate the victims who were made to suffer in these two cases. Citizens’ rights, that are violated and trampled upon ruthlessly under the present system, are more important and valuable than public properties.

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