A group of former civil servants has demanded that the “illegal and unconstitutional practice” of seriously injuring and killing people in extra-judicial “encounters”, with Muslims, Dalits and OBCs being the main target, must stop in Uttar Pradesh.
They also demanded a stop to the “misuse” of the “draconian” preventive detention law, the National Security Act , saying it had been mainly used against Muslims, Dalits and dissenters for alleged offences such as cow slaughter, protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and attacks on the police.
All these could be dealt with under normal penal provisions, they argued.
The former bureaucrats, including many who served in top positions in the police, also demanded that arbitrary detentions, torture and police attacks on peacefully protesting students, minorities, dissenters and others be stopped forthwith and recoveries for alleged damage to property under an “arbitrary” law be discontinued.
The 54 signatories to the open letter on “breakdown of governance and blatant violation of rule of law” in Uttar Pradesh included Julio Riberio, former adviser to Governor of Punjab and former Ambassador to Romania, Najeeb Jung, former Lieutenant Governor, Delhi, and retired IAS officer Harsh Mander.
Targeting Muslim men for alleged “forced conversion” of Hindu women with whom they had a friendly or romantic relationship continued apace under a vaguely worded law that allowed the police and administration to misuse it, the letter said.
“This idea of ‘love jihad’ – without legal empirical or official basis – must be jettisoned,” the former civil servants said.
The institutionalisation and legitimisation of vigilantism by appointing “police mitras” and giving “immunity to cow protectors” for the violence they inflict dissolved the distinction between the State and private armies, they further said, demanding that these policies must end.
“We note with mounting alarm that the present ruling regime in U.P. has ushered in a model of governance which swerves further and further away from the values of the Constitution and the rule of law with each passing day,” they said.
It seemed clear that all branches of the administration, including the executive magistrates and the police, had collapsed, they added. “We fear that, unless checked now, the damage to the polity and institutions in the State will result in the decay and destruction of democracy itself,” the letter read.