November 2, 2016
India: The politics of fake police encounter killing Muslims
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
There is an uproar in Indian on a new murky police encounter killing 8 "escaped" Muslim prisoners in Bhopal. The incident has kicked up a raging controversy with the government and the opposition parties locked in a war of words over the issue. Raising doubts, Congress and Left parties have sought a judicial probe into the incident.
Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge told Asian News International (ANI), “I saw the photographs on television and they do bring suspicion. They make us think that was that encounter fake? Because it seems quite difficult to imagine that eight people at a time were killed by the police at the same place together. This matter should be investigated and the Supreme Court should assign this matter to a retired Supreme Court judge to probe the matter and clear all doubts.”
Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said the repeated instance of prisoners escaping from jails across the country suggested a larger 'conspiracy'.
"Why do only Muslims break out of jail and not Hindus", said the congress leader. "It is a serious issue. First Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists fled the Khandwa Jail. Now, they have fled from the Bhopal jail. I have been reiterating that RSS activists and other similar organizations are behind the anti-Muslim riots in the country. It should be probed whether there is someone behind this or not," he said earlier.
Accusing the Madhya Pradesh government of using the police for fulfilling the RSS agenda, Bahujan Samajwadi Party chief Mayawati on Tuesday demanded a judicial probe into the encounter between police and eight alleged SIMI activists .
She also alleged that there are communal motives behind the misuse of police in BJP-ruled states.
“Eight prisoners related to SIMI were unarmed. They could have been arrested easily again but no attempts were made in this regard. Prima facie this matter appears suspicious and justice demands judicial probe into the entire incident,” she said in a statement.
“Its visible that police is misused for political and communal motives in BJP ruled states. Police had saved many accused in the Vyapam scam. It was only after the intervention of the Supreme Court that the matter was handed over to CBI. MP government is using police for fulfilling RSS agenda”, she charged.
A video has started surfacing on social media which further raises questions about today’s encounter. In the video, four to five prisoners can be seen raising their hands while on radio cops said, “Yeh baat karnaa chaah rahey hain inko gher loo (They want to talk, surround them).
Media report said no one yet knows what happened in between that the angry cops killed them rather arresting them. In another video, it is clearly seen a cop shooting the body while a policemen is displaying a brand new knife, wrapped in plastic which he took out from one of the dead men.
Sahilonline reported that it has been ten hours now and the Bhopal police officials that were successful today in killing eight under-trial SIMI members, the cops are still not able to convince most of the media houses whether the encounter was real or “staged”. As three videos have appeared one by one in last few hours raising doubts about today’s killing.
Apart from media, Tahawwur Khan, defense lawyer of eight SIMI members had also raised his doubt over the encounter and said that there is a conspiracy behind the killing. He reportedly said, the trial of four SIMI members were about to end and there was no ample evidence against them, factually or legally. Khan further said that the court was about to give judgment in few weeks. Khan rubbished the claims of jailbreak and said, “Why they will do such things when they knew they were going to be acquitted”. Khan has also demanded a high-level inquiry into the encounter killing.
Javed Chauhan, the Khandwa-based former lawyer of some of the slain SIMI activists, said that the sequence of events, beginning within the jail premises and ending at Manikhedi Patthar about 15 kms from Bhopal city, indicate that the eight men “did not escape by scaling the very high walls of the prison but were taken out in a vehicle” after the warder collapsed and died because of the grievous injuries he sustained in a fight on the intervening night of 30 and 31 November.
Seven years later, 17 suspected SIMI activists acquitted last year
Seven years after 17 Muslim men, many of them medical students and engineers, were arrested by the Karnataka police on charges of terrorism and criminal conspiracy, for allegedly being associated with the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a trial court in Hubli on April 30, 2015 acquitted all of them. Those acquitted were - Mohammad Asif, Raiazuddin Naseer, Asadulla Abubakar, Hafiz Hussein, Shakil Ahemad Mali, Allabhakha Yadwad, Mirza Ahemad Baig, Sabit Shibli, Yahya Kammakutti, Safdar Hussein Nagori, Sayyad Sadiq Sameer, Kamaruddin, Mohammad Yassin, Mohammad Ansar, Manroz Jaman, P A Shadooli and Akbar Ali Mulla. Sameer was already out on bail for the last four years.
On benefit of doubt, Judge Gopalkrishna Kolli of the First Additional Sessions and District Court of Hubballi passed the order of their acquittal in his 595-page judgment.
The prosecution had filed charges of them having links with the banned outfit Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), illegal possession of arms and explosives and involvement in unlawful activities, besides under several sections of the Indian Penal Code. But it failed to prove any of these charges despite submitting voluminous evidence.
Reacting to the verdict, defence lawyer Shiralli said the prosecution had no point to prove any charge made against his clients. "The court was convinced about their innocence and they were acquitted. It is a remarkable verdict," he said.
The RSS and Hindutva
Bahujan Samajwadi Party chief Mayawati is right when she says that Madhya Pradesh government of using the police for fulfilling the RSS agenda that ‘Hindutva’ alone can be the basis of India’s unity. Hindutva, or "Hinduness" is the predominant form of Hindu nationalism in India. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) adopted it as its official ideology in 1989. It is championed by the Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliate organizations, notably the Vishva Hindu Parishad, along with the older term Hindu Rashtra (translation: Hindu nation).
The RSS has been banned in India thrice, during periods in which the government of the time said that they were a threat to the state: in 1948 after Mahatma Gandhi's assassination by RSS member, during the Emergency (1975–77), and after the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition.
According to the report of the Liberhan Commission the Sangh Parivar organized the destruction of the Babri Masjid. The Commission said: "The blame or the credit for the entire temple construction movement at Ayodhya must necessarily be attributed to the Sangh Parivar."
The New York-based Human Rights Watch has said that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP), the Bajrang Dal, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP have been party to the Gujarat violence when the incumbent Prime Minister of India, Narendar Modi was Chief Minister of Gujrat. According to official figures, the riots resulted in the deaths of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus. Another 223 people were reported missing. Other sources estimate that up to 2,500 Muslims died. Local VHP, BJP and BD leaders have been named in many police reports filed by eyewitnesses.
Christian groups have also accused the RSS alongside its close affiliates, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Bajrang Dal (BD) and the Hindu Jagaran Sammukhya (HJS) of participation in the 2008 religious violence in Odisha.
Forced conversion of Muslims to Hinduism
Amid anti-Muslim fervor, on December 8, 2014, Dharm Jagran Samiti ("Religious awakening committee"), affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were reported to have converted 250 Muslims to Hinduism in Agra. Amid furore over religious conversion, Dharm Jagran Samiti leader Rajeshwar Singh said that he will wipe off the practice of Islam and Christianity from India by December 31, 2021, and convert every Indian into a Hindu by then. He said Muslims and Christians will have to convert to Hinduism if they want to stay in this country. “Our target is to make India a Hindu Rashtra by 2021. The Muslims and Christians don’t have any right to stay here. So they would either be converted to Hinduism or forced to run away from here,” Rajeshwar Singh said.
A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader told Daily Mail in December 2014 that they have formed committees in every district of the state for conversion purpose. “We have included some Arya Samaj priests in the team because they issue a certificate to a converted person. This is a major document to prove that the converted person agrees to it,” he said.
The politics of beef
"Vote for Modi, give life to the cow. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), message, the cow will be saved, the country will be saved," these were the slogans used by Narendra Modi's election campaign in 2014. Cow protection was also one of the key conditions laid down by Hindu right-wing organisations such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to back BJP's Modi as their prime ministerial candidate.
Since Modi’s government came to power, the rhetoric surrounding protection of cows has stepped up. A BJP coalition government in Maharashtra state, home to the financial capital Mumbai, imposed a total beef ban earlier this year, prompting widespread condemnation. Several government leaders have called for a nationwide prohibition.
Across India, there have been increasing reports of violence involving “gau raksha”: gangs - whose members number in the thousands - that patrol highways and country roads at night, hunting for cattle being smuggled to Bangladesh, or the few Indian states where slaughtering the animals is allowed, the Guardian reported last month adding:
Stories of alleged beatings, rapes, and occasional killings by cow vigilantes have saturated the Indian media since September 2015, when a Muslim villager from Dadri, on the outskirts of Delhi, was lynched after being accused of storing beef in his freezer.
Mohammad Akhlaq was dragged out of his home in September 2015 and beaten to death with bricks in the village of Bisara, near Dadri, 50 kilometres from the capital Delhi, after rumors spread that he had killed and eaten a cow – an animal revered by many Hindus. His son was seriously injured.
Tellingly, Prime Minister Modi failed to condemn the lynching.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com