Friday, June 14, 2024

Tripura: UAPA against lawyers over fact-finding report on anti-Muslim violence

On Wednesday, the Tripura Police have registered a case under draconian UAPA against members of a fact-finding team after the rights groups visited the sites of anti-Muslim violence in the state and released a report on the “targeted attacks on Muslims in Tripura.”

Maktoob accessed a notice sent by the West Agartala police station, under Section 41 of the CrPC, informing PUCL’s advocate Mukesh, a lawyer based in Delhi, of the case registered against him under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Another similar UAPA notice has been sent to lawyer Ansar Indori of the NCHRO.

Both lawyers were part of a recent fact-finding team to  Tripura. 

The team consisting of Supreme Court lawyer Ehtesham Hashmi, Advocate Amit Srivastav from Lawyers for Democracy, Advocate Ansar Indori of the National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO), and Advocate Mukesh, on behalf of the Civil Rights Organization People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) released their findings on the anti-Muslim violence in Tripura, at Delhi’s Press Club on Tuesday.

The case under sections IPC and UAPA has been registered at West Agartala Police Station “against the social media posts circulated by you/ statements made by you for promoting enmity between religious groups as well as provoking the people of different religious communities to cause beach of peace,” according to the notice sent to lawyer Mukesh.

The charges registered under IPC are sections 153-A and B ( Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc), 469 (forgery for purpose of harming information), 503 (criminal intimidation), 504 ( (intentional insult with intent to provoke the breach of peace) and 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

“During the investigation, your involvement has been found in connection with the case As such, there are reasonable grounds to question you to ascertain the facts and circumstances relating to the case,” the notice further states.

The UAPA notices requested both lawyers to “immediately delete these fabricated and false statements/comments made/circulated by you in the social media”, further directing them to appear before the West Agartala Police Station by 10 November.

The Tripura Police on Wednesday said it has filed five criminal cases against 71 people over allegedly provocative and fake posts on social media.

A senior Tripura police officer has reportedly told PTI news agency that the cases were filed for allegedly spreading rumours on social media, related to the recent anti-Muslim incidents in Tripura. He also said that as per the preliminary probe, fake pictures and videos were uploaded on social media purportedly in a bid to tarnish the image of the government and the state police.

According to senior cops, the posts were aimed at disturbing peace and communal harmony in the state.

“Five criminal cases have been registered against 71 persons who posted provocative posts on social media. Strict action shall be taken against those persons who are trying to create hatred in the society,” the state police took to Twitter to say.

The Tripura’s BJP government and state police have been claiming that there was no law and order problem in the state and no mosques were burnt by Hindutva groups despite media including Maktoob reported several anti-Muslim crimes across the northeast state.

Tripura police said that the groups from outside had concocted a conspiracy against the administration to create unrest in Tripura and malign the state’s image by uploading fake photographs of a burning mosque on social media.

Fact-finding report

“It was a targeted violence against Muslims,” says a group of Supreme Court lawyers who carried out a fact-finding visit to Tripura following the violence unleashed by Hindutva groups against the northeast region’s minorities.

A report released by advocates from the SC and human rights activists Ehtesham Hashmi, Amit Srivastav, Ansar Indori, and Mukesh visited the northeastern state, showed that Hindu nationalist groups Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and Hindu Jagran Manch held violent protests and rallies across Tripura following Bangladesh violence.

During four-day-long violence against Muslims, 12 mosques, nine shops, and three houses belonging to Muslims were targeted, according to the fact-finding team.

The lawyers also visited the Chamtila masjid in the Panisagar region and found that the masjid was vandalised. Tripura police had repeatedly claimed that the Chamtila mosque was not vandalised and the reports are ‘fake.’ ‘The claims of Tripura police are wrong,” said the fact-finding team.

During the rallies, Hindutva mobs raised slogans insulting Prophet Mohammad and the copies of the Holy Quran were burnt by rioters while attacking mosques and Muslim houses, the report found.

Image
Supreme Court lawyer Ehtesham Hashmi inside a burnt mosque with the burnt copy of the Quran. Photo: Special arrangement.

JCBs were seen in the rallies, local villagers told the fact-finding team.

Maktoob reported more than two dozen hate crimes against Muslims including mosque vandalisation, attacks against Muslim houses, shops, and hawkers, molesting Muslim women, and anti-Muslim and genocidal slogans during the rallies.

The latest violence was a “result of the irresponsibility of the administration” and “extremist organisations,” lawyers said.

The group Lawyers For Democracy said the assaults on Muslims could have been prevented if the police and administration had taken strict measures.

“Four days before this incident, Muslim organisation Jamaat-E-Ulema (Hind) met with Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Dev and informed him that such incidents could take place and there is a danger to the peace between Hindus and Muslims. Despite this, the government not taking any action is tantamount to sponsoring this violence,” said the lawyers in the report. 

The report also talks about the police inaction during and after the violence. Many Muslims tried registering a complaint on violence but the police just sent them back, according to the report.

The group called for an inquiry committee headed by a retired High Court judge to be set up to probe the incidents and filing of separate FIR based on the survivors’ complaints.

“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 report said.

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