India’s former top diplomat, Deb Mukharji, has exposed brutalities of law enforcement agencies against Muslims of Uttar Pradesh (UP) for protesting against the recently passed controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Protests have rocked India since legislation was passed in December last year that eased the way for religious minorities from three Muslim-majority neighbouring nations to gain Indian citizenship, but not if they are Muslim.
The law, passed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government, discriminates against Muslims and undermines the country’s secular foundations.
At least 28 people have been killed in the protests and hundreds more sustained injuries in clashes with police, fuelling public anger.
Chief Minister UP Yogi Adityanath in December 2019 declared a war against Muslims after he vowed to “take revenge” on people protesting against the controversial citizenship law.
Deb Mukharji, who had served as envoy to Bangladesh and Nepal, exposed the plight of hapless Muslims of UP – India’s most populous and arguably its most politically important state – in a report published in Telegraphindia stating: “The attitude of the Uttar Pradesh police was perhaps best appreciated by the Bengal BJP president, who was happy that they shot protesters like dogs.”
The diplomat, in his article titled “Extraordinary horrors inflicted on Muslims of UP”, writes that a “people’s tribunal” was held in Delhi on January 16, where the jury comprised former justices of the Supreme Court, a former chief justice of Delhi High Court, eminent academics and retired civil servants.
In the article, he states: “The jury was ‘deeply worried and dismayed by the testimonies placed before it. It is convinced that the entire state machinery, led from the top, acted with grave prejudice and perpetrated violence targeting one particular community, the state’s Muslim population, and the social activists leading the movement.”
He further writes that apart from the violence on the protesters, the police brutality included “the arrest of and filing of false cases against innocent people; the destruction of vehicles and property by entering people’s homes, as well as CCTV cameras; threats to and intimidation of people picked up [for] speaking the truth about what happened; communalised abuses against victims; custody violence even on minors; firing and killing people without following the law; preventing medical personnel from treating the injured and threatening the injured against accessing medical care”.
The former envoy also discloses that the injured protesters being denied treatment at the hospital as hospital authorities “were apparently concerned about displeasing the government”. This is a clear violation of Article 21 of Indian constitution.
There were also allegations that ambulances were not provided when necessary, although the Red Cross is honoured even in war. This type of human rights violation is a crime in the international court and UP would be brought to trial if it was an independent country.
The jury concludes: “The state of affairs in UP shows a complete collapse of the rule of law. In fact, the very state administration that is charged with protecting the rule of law is perpetrating violence upon its own people.”
Uttar Pradesh is considered a holy place, but with the police mercilessly beating the innocent Muslims, has today become the heart of darkness, Mukharji concludes.