On Wednesday the, Uttarakhand High Court agreed to hear the petition submitted by the ‘Association for the Protection of Civil Rights’ which was filed with the intention of seeking the High Court to stop the processions of the ‘Mahapanchayat conclave’ which was proposed to be conducted in Purola of the Uttar Kashi district in Uttarakhand. The conclave is speculated to be the cause of the sudden spike in communal tensions in Uttarakhand.
THE PETITION FILED BY THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE PROTECTION OF CIVIL RIGHTS AND ADVOCATE SHAHRUKH ALAM
Playing a key role in this petition is Advocate Shahrukh Alam, advocating on behalf of the ‘Association for the Protection of Civil Rights’ (petitioner) in the case. Advocate Shahrukh Alam, presented the matter before the learned vacation bench of the Supreme Court before approaching the High Court as per the advice of the Supreme Court which refused to entertain the plea. As a result of which the petitioner approached the High Court.
When the Chief Justice of the High Court of Uttarakhand enquired about the subject matter of the case, Advocate Alam stated, “It is a writ petition asking for directions in view of the continuing mandamus of the Supreme Court in relation to incidents in Uttar Kashi and Tehri Garhwal. This is in relation to a certain ultimatum that has been given to a “particular community” to leave and the calling of a Mahapanchayat tomorrow June 15 if that ultimatum is not fulfilled.”
Apparently, on June 5th, there was also a letter addressed to a “particular community” sent by an organization to the District Magistrate New Tehri Garhwal district, where supposedly this “particular community” was asked to leave the Jaunpur valley in order to facilitate the implementation of this so-called ultimatum. The Muslims residing in the State of Uttarakhand are euphemistically referred to as the “particular community” in this letter.
This letter was used by the petitioner as a reference in the case. According to Alam, the petition was in the process of being filed and he also requested that the registry direct the process in a manner that the listing is guaranteed for the very next day. Accepting Advocate Alam’s request, the Chief Justice of India took up the matter on the plea to halt the processions of the Mahapanchayat for hearing the very next day.
HIGH RISING COMMUNAL TENSIONS
The launch of the Mahapanchayat soon after the occurrence of the incident whereby a community was asked to depart an area through a letter seems to be an obvious indicator that it is a build-up, working towards implementing the “ultimatum” and spreading high communal tensions, disrupting the peace of the people and hindering them from leading their lives in harmony and respect for each other’s cultures. These efforts went as far as to mark the shutters or door-fronts of certain shops with an ‘X’ mark and also pasted with notices in the name of one ‘Devbhumi Raksha Sangathan’, which is supposed to be taken as an indication that they are being threatened in order to make them leave the area. At the same time, there were many posters put up announcing that the Mahapanchayat will be held on the 15th of June as well.
REPRESENTATION AND REFERENCE
The Supreme Court provided the petitioner with the liberty to approach other authorities with matters in relation to this case as per law, and in furthering the provision of liberty granted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the court represented the matter before the Chief Secretary as well as Director General of Police of the state of Uttarakhand. The Supreme Court passed an order directing the State to take suo moto action against hate speeches held in the State especially ones that are presented under the guise of ‘Dharam sansad events.’
The petitioner used these orders of the Supreme Court as a reference as well. In the representation so sent to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police of the state of Uttarakhand, the petitioner stated that it was more than likely further provocative speeches will continue to target this “particular community”, continuing the pre-existing culture of criminal narrative in the public sphere. In order to halt any actions that may pursue the letter of ultimatum inciting violence against the targeted community, particularly in the Tehri Garhwal district, the petitioner has requested the local authorities to file a First Information Report and take prompt action against the signatories of the afore-mentioned letter before matters escalate and become uncontrollable.
The situation could be aggravated at any point given that these issues came to life in the midst of other communal tensions in the state regarding the abduction of a fourteen-year-old girl in Purola by a Hindu and a Muslim man. However, the rage and resentment that followed were misplaced and directed toward the Muslim community, even though both men were immediately arrested. These communal tensions then spread to the neighboring areas and many people collectively began targeting and attacking Muslim houses and Muslim-run shops. Many Muslim families have left the area, fleeing from these acts of violence for fear for their lives following the hate speeches and campaigns inciting violence and resentment towards them as a community.