Vol. XLII No. 02 January 14, 2018

INCREASING INCIDENTS OF LYNCHINGS: Bhumi Adhikar Andolan Fact-Finding Team Visits Rajasthan


A FACT-FINDING team under the banner of Bhumi Adhikar Andolan visited Bharatpur, Alwar, Rajsamand and Udaipur in Rajasthan on January 6-7, 2018 to look into the increasing incidents of lynching and attacks in the name of gau-raksha, encounter killings, deliberate communal polarisation and attacks on Muslims in the state. The delegation included KK Ragesh, CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala and AIKS joint secretary, Badrudduzza Khan, CPI(M) Lok Sabha MP from West Bengal,  Mehaboob Alam, MLA from Bihar and leader of AIKMS, Amra Ram, ex MLA and vice president AIKS,  Vijoo Krishnan AIKS Joint Secretary, P Krishnaprasad, ex MLA and AIKS finance secretary, Thirunavukkarasu, AIAWU all India president, Advocates from Supreme Court PV Surendra Nath, Resmitha R Chandran,  KR Subhash Chandran,  Bilal Khan, national organiser, NAPM, Mujahid Nafees,  leader of BAA from  Gujarat, Devendra singh Chouhan, vice president AIKMS,  Dhirendra Bhadauria , EC member AIKMS, Rajasthan BAA leaders Chhagan Lal Choudhary  (AIKS), Sanjay Madhav (AIKS), Sawai Singh (Samagra Sewa Sangh), Moulana  Haneef, Virendrra Vidrohi (INSAF) among others.  A group of media persons also accompanied the delegation. 
The BAA delegation that visited Ghatmeeka Village in Bharatpur district met the family of Ummar Khan who was killed by cow terrorists. The village about 120 kilometres from the national capital was a sign of utter neglect and people are denied of the basic facilities like proper roads, well-equipped schools, health-centres, water-supply and other basic amenities. The village falling within the Mewat region has witnessed no communal disturbances and people of Hindu as well as Muslim community have lived in harmony. The family of Ummar Khan lives in utter poverty and his mother, wife and children are in an inconsolable state with no support or compensation coming forward from the BJP led state government. The team found that every household is engaged in dairying and all homesteads have cows, buffaloes or goats from which the people earn their livelihood. In the interaction with the people of the village, community leaders and the elected representatives of the panchayat, the team found that there was a systematic attempt to brand the entire Muslim community in Mewat region as criminal. Certain elements in the police department are working in connivance with the communal forces to brand villagers belonging to minority community as criminals reminiscent of the British colonial branding of certain tribes as criminal tribes. While interacting with the topmost revenue and police officers of Alwar where the repeated incidents of killing of dairy farmers have taken place, the team found a high degree of prejudice against the minority community. This prejudice and clear bias and religious profiling have led to numerous false cases being filed against dairy farmers as cow smugglers and systematic harassment. The approach of the collector and superintendent of police in Alwar was insensitive and they were carrying forward the narrative of the gau rakshaks. It was only a day before the visit of the team that remaining four of the accused in the killing of Ummar Khan were arrested. However, Tahir and Javed who were arrested in the name of cow-smuggling in the same case have been languishing in the jail without bail. 
In Alwar, the family of Talim, a 22 year old who was killed in what they alleged was a fake encounter met the team and explained how he had been shot point-blank and no FIR had been lodged even days after the incident. A series of gau-raksha police outposts in the region also act hand-in-glove with the vigilante groups. 
In Rajsamand where Afrazul was killed in a brutal manner and the whole act was videographed and made viral on social media, the team met with the collector and the superintendent of police. The approach of the officials here was cooperative and they pointed out that the killer had conspired to kill and propagate a false story of love-Jihad in a planned manner. He had also trained the 15-year old accomplice to shoot the gory incident. The authorities also informed that the region was known for communal harmony and the incident seems to have been a deliberate and motivated act to disturb peace in the region. They also informed the team that they had taken prompt action to freeze the account to which Hindutva fundamentalists had transferred amount for the killer’s family. A compensation of Rs 5 Lakh had been offered to the family of Afrazul, they informed. A meeting with people of Rajsamand also confirmed and corroborated some of the views expressed by them. 
In Udaipur, a jan sunvai was held where victims of communal attacks and police harassment met the team and apprised them of the volatile situation being deliberately created by the ruling BJP and Sangh Parivar. Rashida Bi, widow of Zafar Khan who was killed in Pratapgarh for objecting to the photography of women defecating in the open met the team and explained that all the culprits are moving around scot-free and the BJP government has not given any compensation for the family. Auto drivers, retired government personnel, traders and others from the minority community also brought to the notice of the team that they were facing threats, attacks and intimidation on a day-to-day basis. They also pointed out that the police are entering homes without following due processes and also arresting people by falsely implicating them. The team assured that their issues will be raised in the parliament, with the National Human Rights Commission and other authorities and build resistance to the communal forces. A detailed report of the fact-finding will be released later. 
There is total loss of faith in the law and order mechanism and the BJP led state government. It is a matter of grave concern that the main opposition party in the state, the Congress has failed to address the issue and mobilise opinion against the communal attacks on citizens. Unfortunately they have made no efforts to reach out to the families of victims or those facing attacks or being arrested on false charges.