Monday, April 22, 2024

Withdrawal of cases: CM Pinarayi Vijayan fails to keep his promise to anti-CAA protesters

Photo: Shakeeb KPA/Maktoob

Out of the 835 cases registered against activists and politicians who protested Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens in the state, the government has only withdrawn two cases, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said while replying to an Opposition MLA’s query in the legislative assembly. 

Earlier during the Assembly polls campaign, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government promised to withdraw cases registered in connection with the protests against the widely criticized CAA and NRC. The decision was taken in a cabinet meeting chaired by Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Vijayan government also announced that it will withdraw all cases related to Sabarimala agitation.

“The cabinet has decided to withdraw all cases that are not of a serious criminal nature registered in the state in connection with the Sabarimala women entry issue and protests against amended Citizenship Act,” read a brief statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office on 24 February this year.

While replying to a question raised by Congress’s KC Joseph MLA in the assembly in February 2020, Vijayan had said that no cases have been registered against anyone in Kerala for participating in protests against the CAA. However, he added that action has been taken against people who crossed the limits and indulged in violence. The CM had then accused Muslim political organisations such as Socialist Democratic Party of India (SDPI) of “infiltrating the protest to create communal division.”

According to Kerala media reports, the police registered 103 cases in Kozhikode city, 103 cases in Kozhikode rural, 93 cases in Malappuram, 39 cases in Thiruvananthapuram city, 47 cases in Thiruvananthapuram rural, 15 cases in Kollam city, 29 cases in Kollam rural, 16 cases in Pathanamthitta, 25 cases in Alappuzha, 26 cases in Kottayam, 17 cases in Idukki district, 38 cases in Ernakulam rural, 17 cases in Ernakulam city, 66 cases in Thrissur city, 20 cases in Thrissur rural, 85 cases in Palakkad, 32 cases in Wayanad, 54 cases in Kannur city, 39 cases in Kannur rural and 18 cases in Kasargod respectively.

Kozhikode town police sent a summons in February 2020 to at least 46 politicians, Muslim scholars, cultural activists, and academicians for expressing their solidarity for a hartal against the CAA and NRC in December. The list includes Welfare Party state chief Hameed Vaniyambalam, state Secretary of the Samastha Kerala Sunni Youth Movement Nasar Faizy Koodathai, Dalit leader K Ambujakshan, Solidarity Youth Movement’s Nahas Mala, Adivasi trade union leader Gomathi, author TT Sreekumar, feminist historian J Devika, senior journalist NP Chekkuty, and the fishermen leader late T Peter. Various sections of the IPC such as 109, 143, 147, 283, and 149 were charged against them. The police statement said that the police were not intimidated seven days in advance about the hartal, as instructed by the Kerala High Court, so action was taken against the organisers.

“On one hand, CM is projecting himself as saviour of Muslims but on other hand, he is appeasing Sangh Parivar,” alleged Nahas Mala, one of the 46 activists who got the summons said to Maktoob.

Solidarity Youth Movement state chief Nahas further said that the left government is aligning with the Sangh Parivar by vilifying the political uprising of Muslims. “Case withdrawal move was just a gimmick to ensure Muslim votes prior to the assembly election,” he adds.

“This move clearly exposes the double standard by Pinarayi government. The decision to withdraw CAA cases was an attempt to lure voters to ensure the LDF government’s victory in the assembly election,” Gomathi, who got the summons, told Maktoob.

“They succeeded in that. The case was fabricated against me. I was kept under preventive arrest in Shantanpara police station in Idukki on the day of hartal. The summons accused me of participating in the hartal and vandalising public properties. I supported the NRC struggle because it was a movement led by Muslims for their existence,” she adds.

The southern state witnessed various forms of protests against the anti-Muslim and unconstitutional CAA including the boycott BJP movement. People in Kozhikode district’s Kuttiady village close down shops and observed a ‘mini hartal’ to boycott a pro-CAA rally organised by the saffron party. The youth and students took the initiative to spread awareness and to campaign among the shopkeepers about the political relevance of the boycott Hindu nationalist party.

The police detained two youth for advocating the boycott and registered a suo moto case under various sections including section 153A( wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) of the IPC.

However, the BJP workers, triggered by the boycott, resorted to anti-Muslim and genocidal slogans during the rally. “Don’t you remember Gujarat? Keep that in mind before you play” and “If you stand against national security, all your mosques will be vanished from Bharath” were some of the slogans raised in the rally, witnessed by at least 10 policemen. However, it took police at least two days to register the case against 100 BJP workers. The station house officer said that suo moto case was not registered as the police did not hear any provocative slogans. The BJP workers were also charged under similar sections including Section 153, 143, and 147 of the IPC. 

Ashfaque EJ
Ashfaque EJ
Ashfaque EJ is an independent journalist from Kerala.
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