Special Correspondent

They appeared “communally motivated”, aimed at “ethnic profiling”

“Widespread feeling of victimisation among minority communities”

“Press Council should lay down guidelines for reportage of blast investigations”

JAIPUR: A People’s Tribunal on State action against terrorism, which conducted its hearing for two days here this past weekend, has demanded appointment of a high-power Inquiry Commission comprising at least three retired judges of the Supreme Court to look into the investigation of bomb blast cases across the country in view of allegations that the police were violating the apex court’s directives during the probe.

In its preliminary findings released here on Tuesday, the jury of the tribunal said the investigating authorities were detaining the suspects for days and weeks without formally arresting them or producing them before court. Police officers were also torturing and humiliating the people picked up in this manner, said the jury.

The proposed Inquiry Commission should examine whether the police investigations into various serial blasts, which have taken place across the country this year, are being done honestly and whether the members of a particular community are being victimised in the probe, the jury added.

The jury was headed by former Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court S.N. Bhargava. Its other members were Mumbai-based activist Ram Puniyani, Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, National Alliance of People’s Movement convenor Sandeep Pandey, Outlook Hindi Editor Neelabh Mishra and noted writer on Indian Muslim issues, Yoginder Sikand.

The jury observed that police investigations into the blasts appeared to be “communally motivated” and aimed at “ethnic profiling”. This has led to a widespread feeling of victimisation among the minority communities and a strong sense of “alienation, despair and anger”.

Releasing the findings, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) general secretary Kavita Srivastava said the police drive had resulted in vilification of the entire Bengali Muslim community in Jaipur. Thousands of them were picked up after the serial blasts in the Walled City of Jaipur on May 13 this year and forcibly transported to New Jalpaiguri and then Bangladesh without due process of law, she said.

Over 200 people attended the hearing, while more than 40 — including survivors of the bomb blasts, those projected as suspects in the terror plot and those victimised with the charge of luring the poor for conversion — deposed before the jury. Activists, lawyers, academicians and journalists also made depositions with additional evidence.

The jury also recommended appointment of a committee for monitoring of the injured in the Jaipur blasts as well as distribution of financial assistance, which should include funds for children’s education, livelihood and social security.

the State Government should issue a White Paper on the receipt and expenditure of all money spent in this regard, it said.

According to the findings, it had become urgent to set up police complaint authorities at the district and State levels as directed by the Supreme Court, while more powers should be given to the National and State Human Rights Commissions, which should have their own dedicated police machinery.

The jury said the State police service should have adequate representation from the minority communities, while the Press Council of India should lay down guidelines for reportage of blast investigations. Similarly, the judiciary should become proactive for preventing violation of law by the police.

The jury expressed concern over corporate houses terminating the services of innocent employees detained by the police despite their release and failure of the police to bring charges against them. It also stated that the Bar Associations, by passing resolutions not to represent terror suspects in the courts, were defying the law and the principles of natural justice.