Uttarakhand:  ‘Mahapanchayat’ called off, but the State Government should ensure the safety of Muslim traders and allow them to reopen their shops in Purola town,’’ APCR


Jun 16, 2023

New Delhi, June 15: The Association for the Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) here on Thursday has expressed its concern over the mounting communal tensions in Uttarakhand. A representation has been submitted by the APCR seeking State Government to immediately intervene and take action against the trouble makers in Uttarkashi District.

The people from a particularly community are reportedly being targeted and attacks from other community people.  “In light of recent events, we have submitted a representation letter to urge the State Government to ensure the maintenance of law and order across all parts of the state and take necessary measures to prevent any loss of life or damage to property,’’ mentioned, in the press release of APCR.

It was further notified that the ‘Mahapanchayat’ which was to be held, has been cancelled following the court’s directives.

“In response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by APCR today, Uttarakhand High Court presided over by Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Rakesh Thapliyal, has made a major decision. The PIL requested assistance to halt a “Mahapanchayat” to be held in Purola by Hindutva organizations and urged for the filing of First Information Reports (FIRs) against those who threatened Muslims to vacate their properties and leave the concerned area. The court has given notice to the respondents, while reiterating the State to carry out its duty to uphold peace and order,’’ stated, in press note.

“Attorney General of Uttarakhand SN Babulkar informed the bench during the hearing that the “Mahapanchayat” had been cancelled as a result of the state’s intervention, somewhat defusing the situation,’’ added,

The court, however, asked all concerned parties and organizations to abstain and refrain from engaging in social media’s debates, as it may cause to add woes.The court emphasized the need for calm and restraint, urging against the spread of allegations and counter-allegations on social media platforms and in television debates.

“The counsels appearing for APCR Advocate Shahrukh Alam, Talha A Rehaman, Archit Krishna and Priya Vats draws attention to a letter allegedly sent on June 5, 2023, on the letterhead of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal to the District Magistrate of New Tehri District, threatening to block the highway on June 15 unless Muslims living in specific areas of the state vacate their homes,’’ stated, in the APCR press release.

It was also informed that the counsel also brought attention to the  Supreme Court’s order regarding hate speech and sought directions for the registration of FIRs against individuals responsible for incendiary social media posts and a threatening letter issued by certain organizations.

The court declined to issue such directions, but emphasized the State Government to maintain law and order and protect the lives and property of all individuals in the state.

“We express deep concern that no action has been taken over the course of ten days, with no comprehensive FIR registered against the signatories of the letter. Such inaction undermines the specific order of the Supreme Court, as well as various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The content of the letter incites acts against national integrity and causes disharmony, falling within the purview of UAPA and relevant provisions of the IPC,’’

Nadeem Khan, National Secretary of APCR, stated, “The cancellation of the ‘Mahapanchayat’ is a positive step, but we must not overlook the ground reality of fear and polarization. It is crucial for the State Government to ensure the safety of Muslim traders including their families and to allow them to reopen their shops in Purola town.”

“APCR remains steadfast in its commitment to protecting civil rights and promoting a society free from discrimination and communal tensions,” Khan emphasized.

He said that the ‘Mahapanchayat’ has been called off, we urge the state government to ensure the safety of Muslim traders and allow them to reopen their shops in Purola town. It is vital to address the ground reality of fear and polarization that hampers the normal functioning of businesses and threatens the livelihoods of innocent individuals. We hope that the authorities will take prompt action to investigate incidents of hate speeches and violence, register comprehensive FIRs, and bring the perpetrators of hate crimes to justice, thereby upholding the principles of justice, equality, and communal harmony.

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