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Legal rights body slams Tripura Police for booking SC lawyers, says they are following Gandhi’s steps

The PUCL claimed that their fact-finding report held a few Hindu organisations responsible for unleashing violence in many areas where a mosque and a few houses and shops owned by the minorities were vandalised.

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala |
November 5, 2021 10:04:48 pm
A paramilitary soldier patrols past a shop that was set on fire in Rowa village, about 220 kilometers from Agartala. (AP)

Two days after Tripura Police booked Supreme Court lawyers, who were a part of an independent fact-finding team, for allegedly sharing “fake information on social media” on reported communal violence, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) condemned and demanded the police to withdraw the cases.

Citing reasons for lodging cases, the PUCL claimed that their fact-finding report held a few Hindu organisations responsible for unleashing violence in many areas where a mosque and a few houses and shops owned by the minorities were vandalised.

“…police have invoked the draconian provisions of UAPA law only because of the findings of the FFT that the large scale violence which destroyed numerous homes, shops, mosques and other properties of Muslims in many towns in Tripura was the result of orchestrated violence unleashed by Hindu majoritarian groups like VHP and HJM, against minority Muslims with the tacit connivance and conscious abdication of their duties by the Tripura Police,” according to a press release signed by National president of PUCL Ravi Kiran Jain and national general secretary Dr V Suresh.

They said the exercise of fact-finding was launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1917 and they conducted a probe following his footsteps.

“Mukesh, Ansar Indori and other team mates, in undertaking a fact-finding exercise and producing a report on communal violence in Tripura, are following in the footsteps of Gandhiji. What they are doing is producing a document which will tell the story of what happened from the viewpoint of the victims,” the press release reads.

The legal rights organisation produced a report titled, ‘Humanity under attack in Tripura’ which documents the purported attacks on Muslim establishments, vandalisation of mosques and alleged impact of the violence in creating insecurity among the minority population in Tripura.

In notices to four Supreme Court lawyers from different organizations, including Lawyers for Democracy, National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO) and the PUCL, Tripura Police Sub-Inspector Srikanta Guha Thursday said they were booked in a case with charges of promoting disharmony enmity or feelings of hatred between different groups on the grounds of religion, forgery, threatening, provocation to break public peace and criminal conspiracy under Sections 153A, 153B, 469, 471, 503, 504 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code and Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Reacting to the charges, the PUCL statement alleged that the police were seeking to criminalise constitutional freedom of seeking truth about incidents of communal violence to fix accountability and transparency from the political and bureaucratic executives.

PUCL’s allegations come in the midst of statements from the state police that there is no communal tension anywhere in Tripura and that prompt actions are being taken against those involved in the cases of violence.

Earlier on November 3, DIG (Southern Range) G K Rao had said, “Some mischievous incidents” are happening in the state since the last few days.

The official said the police registered 11 cases filed earlier, including four in North Tripura, three in West Tripura, one in Gomati district and three cases in Sepahijala district and arrested five persons and served notices to three others to appear before the police.

Reiterating that the state government has announced compensation for losses incurred in these incidents, the official claimed the police have taken a neutral role and no such incident happened in the past one week.

The police have already provided security in front of all mosques since the beginning of the purported vandalism and started patrolling in mixed habitation areas of the state, the DIG had said.

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