In Kalyan a Muslim youth Bilal Shaikh was slaped with a non
boilable cognizable offense (May 2012) under section 333, after he
jumped the traffic signal. He was assaulted brutally by the police
for having arguments with them, suffered a fracture in right arm
and was in jail for eight days. The policemen who beat him up got
released with the non cognizable warrant.
Another Muslim youth Mohammad Amir Khan, age 18, preparing for his
school exam, was abducted by police, charged with being the
mastermind of serial blasts in Delhi, was charged under all the
possible sections, tortured in jail for 14 years and finally
released in 2012 when no evidence was proved in the courts.
In the series of blasts, for which now Aseemanand-Pragyasingh
Thakur and company is now cooling the heels in jails, many a
Muslim youth were arrested after every blast in Malegaon, Mecca
Masjid (Hyderabad), Ajmer and Samjhauta express. In all the cases
the Muslim youth had to be released as police had no credible
evidence of any sort. In the meanwhile many of them had to drop
out from their studies and their careers were ruined.
In the recently released (June 2012) report by Tata Institute of
social sciences, the observation is that 36% of the jail inmates
in Maharashtra are Muslims while the population of Muslims in
state is close to 10.6%. The report was sponsored by the
Maharashtra States’ Minorities Panel. The findings of the report
are in conformity with the Sachar Committee report and general
observation of Human rights activists.
Most of the arrests of Muslim youth are prompted by the prevalent
stereotype of ‘Muslims are criminals, terrorists’. These
stereotypes are highly prevalent not only in society but also
amongst the bureaucracy, particularly the police and amongst
intelligence agencies. Many in the police force are totally in the
grip of communal thinking and with their infinite power they
unleash themselves against the Muslim youth at every conceivable
opportunity. The rise of communalization of society and more
particularly after the coming up of the terrorism of Al Qaeda
variety, the stereotypes about Muslims have worsened. One recalls
that this type of terrorism was subtly brought up by United States
for pursuing its goal of controlling the oil wealth. The attitude
of authorities has become more anti minority and this in turn has
undermined their professionalism and they are guided more by their
biases than by the rules of law.
There are multiple reasons for the Muslim youth being targeted by
the state authorities. True, that some Muslim youth have fallen
prey to the illegal activities due to the abject poverty which
they have to suffer. Still the major reason for their being
indiscriminately arrested by the police relates to the
misconception regarding acts of terrorism and communal violence.
In communal violence, the major culprit instigating the violence
is majoritiarian communal forces. The study of different inquiry
committee reports by Teesta Setalvad (Communalism Combat, March
1998) shows that in most of the cases of violence it is the RSS
related organization, already prevalent or floated specially for
the occasion, which is in the lead. Even in Mumbai violence,
Shrikrishna Commission held Shiv Sena as the major factor leading
the violence. As such Muslims are 13.4% of the Indian population
according to 2001 census, but amongst the violence victims 90% are
Muslims. Police and many a times political leadership takes the
attitude which increases the insecurity of the community.
The worst part of this phenomenon is that in popular perception it
is alleged that it is Muslims, who start the riots. Dr. V.N. Rai,
who has done a major study on the communal violence points out
that generally a situation, is created where the minority
community is forced to throw the first stone on many occasions. To
worsen the matter, after the violence the majority of those who
are arrested for communal violence are Muslims again.
The recent acts of terror and attitude of police are very
reflective of the whole process. In most of these acts of terror,
Malegaon, Ajmer, Jaipur and Samjhauta express blast, many a Muslim
youth were arrested as the ones’ who have done the act. Police
machinery produced evidence of their involvement with some
Pakistan based terror group; SIMI was always blamed for many of
these acts. Even at that time there were enough pointers that
police investigations and action defies common sense. Police had
the standard formula for arresting Muslim youth after every blast.
They made it a practice to implicate the Muslim youth and put on
their head the charge of blast and their link with Lashkar-E-Tayyaba, Indian Mujahideen, SIMI or some such group.
Social activists kept pointing to the authorities about the leads
showing in another direction from where the acts of terror were
emerging. Police totally biased with prejudiced mind set kept on
repeating the same pattern over and over again.
Once Hemant Karkar’s immaculate investigation showed the link of
Malegaon blast to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’s motor cycle and her
links with many Hindutva groups the matters came to a halt.
Sadhvi’s links with Swami Dayanand Pandey, Lt Col Prasad Shrikant
Purohit, retired Major Upadhaya, Swami Aseemanand and many others
of Hindutva ideology revealed that police till then was totally
acting in a wrong manner. In this light Human Rights organization
ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony And Democracy), organized a tribunal in
Hyderabad, ‘Scapegoats and Holy Cows’. The report of this tribunal
was very damning of the actions of the investigation authorities
and the state. Logically with the arrest of Saffron terror gangs
the acts of terror seem to have come to a halt.
Despite this, the attitude of police remains as biased as before
and in the day to day life they display this partisan behavior.
This biased attitude of state machinery, police and intelligence
authorities in the main, has been ruining the life and careers of
many a Muslim youth. The feeling of insecurity amongst the
community as a whole is on the rise. This feeling of insecurity is
crippling the possible growth of the community. Those implicated
in such acts are also boycotted by the community and have faced
immense personal, social and economic losses. It is time that the
Human rights groups intensify their campaign to protect the
innocent Muslim youth, the legal measures need to be strengthened
whereby the police cannot exercise its biased attitude in
arresting any Muslim youth. Measures are needed to ensure that
police-intelligence agencies takes up more professional attitude
overall and more particularly in the matters related to minority
youth. The Government needs to wake up and apply the correcting
Apart from preventive legal steps we also need to work against the
prevalent social biases against Muslims in particular. The myths
against the community, which are historical and contemporary
issues, which are related to the causes of acts of terrorism need
to be countered by spread of truth about these myths. It is the
duty of state and social organizations to undertake and promote
such awareness programs through lectures, workshops, popular
booklets and through mechanisms like T.V. and media in particular.