Amid communal tension in Uttarakhand, civil society bodies write to President

Multiple instances of hate speech were reported on Wednesday as well

June 07, 2023 08:13 pm | Updated 08:13 pm IST - New Delhi

Members of Bhairav Sena Sangathan stage a protest against the increasing cases of ‘Love Jihad’ in Uttarakhand, in Dehradun. File.

Members of Bhairav Sena Sangathan stage a protest against the increasing cases of ‘Love Jihad’ in Uttarakhand, in Dehradun. File. | Photo Credit: ANI

 Amid communal tensions flaring up in Uttarakhand, a group of over 200 social justice organisations and NGOs on Wednesday wrote to President Droupadi Murmu, condemning the role of the government in the “hate-filled” campaign under way in the State and seeking immediate action to protect lives and properties. 

The State has been seeing communal tensions for the last few weeks, as the State government continues its drive of evicting illegal encroachers, which activists have said disproportionately affects Muslim neighbourhoods. Amid this, the alleged abduction of a minor girl in Purola district, for which a Hindu man and a Muslim man have been arrested, has also led to tensions rising. 

The Hindu had earlier this week reported how Muslim shop owners and residents in Uttarkashi were being threatened to keep their shops closed and a Hindu ‘mahapanchayat’ is scheduled to take place on June 15. Devbhoomi Raksha Abhiyan, a right-wing group, which has been at the centre of calls for boycott of Muslim-owned shops, has called for the ‘mahapanchayat’. 

With residents, trade union members and local businessmen gathered at several places in Uttarkashi to stage protests on Wednesday, the police remained on their toes to maintain the law and order situation in the town. In Chilyanisaur block, incidents of hate speech were also reported followed by no action from the police. 

‘No arrests in posters issue’

Superintendent of Police (SP) Uttarkashi Arpan Yaduvanshi told The Hindu that no arrest had been made even in the case of posters being pasted at shops in which people from the minority community were asked to vacate the shops. “Investigation is on in this matter,” he added.

The organisations that have appealed to the President now include several Dalit and Adivasi welfare outfits, and other prominent human rights organisations such as Teesta Setalvad’s Citizens for Justice and Peace, and other activists and outfits from over 20 States and Union Territories. 

‘Land jihad’

The outfits cited public speeches of Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami validating the idea of “land jihad” in April this year and the subsequent move of the administration to order clearing of purported encroachments in the towns and forested areas. “Violent incidents and hate speeches have taken place in Dehradun, Tiuni, Chakrata, Purola, and Imlikheda in the months of April and May this year,” their statement added. 

They said that despite escalating tensions in the State, no step was being taken by the State government authorities. 

On May 30, 23 Supreme Court lawyers also urged the government to comply with the court orders on hate speech and mob violence, terming the government’s inaction as contempt of court. 

Seeking that the President direct the government and administration to follow rule of law and take action against hate speeches and campaigns, the group of organisations and activists said, “This type of violent, hate-filled atmosphere has never existed in the State of Uttarakhand.”

The groups demanded investigation into the illegal demolitions in the State, rebuilding of these settlements and shrines, and strict action against errant officers. The group sought that Supreme Court decisions on action on hate speech and mob violence be implemented. They also wanted all Forest Rights Act provisions to be followed. 

“The real development of the State can happen only through these principles. The ongoing hate-filled efforts will only harm our country,” the group said. 

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