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Kanpur riots and secular India
By S Ubaidur Rahman
|Incidents of violence should be
condemned by one and all and more so when it has been done by none other
than the law enforcing agencies. What happened in Kanpur a fortnight ago
was not new. Even the government's cold shouldered response to all
observations of a number of non-partisan agencies who gave damning
verdicts against the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) was not new. All
these things have been experienced in the past by the nation. Be it in
Hashimpura, Meerut, Maliana or Aligarh or the latest incidents of violence
What happened in Kanpur on that Black Friday should be seen as an eye
opener for all the people who want the country to follow the secular
credentials enshrined by the makers of the law. The Friday protests by a
group of Muslim youths could have easily been calmed down as happened in
all other places. What they were doing can in no case be called as an act
of terrorism or breaking of law. The Constitution gives its citizens right
to protest and agitate. And no one can stop its people from organizing a
march when people angered over the burning of their religious book want to
show their anger in a lawful manner. They were certainly not taking the
law in their hands. Burning effigies and tying black bandages on hands can
not be described as taking the law in hands or violation of the law. These
things would have passed off peacefully had the PAC not tried to terrorize
the demonstrators. Police firing on the unarmed protestors was beginning
of all the trouble in a communally high voltage city.
It was the time when the saffron outfits allegedly entered the scene. The
PAC allegedly teamed up with the BJP and RSS workers and then started the
horror story. The PAC allegedly entered the houses and beat up the
residents, fired upon the innocent people and ransacked the houses and set
shops ablaze. Even Muslim journalists were not spared. A city based
journalist Sajid who came in a five star hotel to meet a journalist from
Delhi was arrested with no fault of his own. Leading Muslim personalities
were implicated in false cases and there was none who could stop this
unleashing of terror.
Despite repeated appeals of Muslim leaders and the leaders of a number of
political parties including Congress the main opposition party in the Lok
Sabha and Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party to pack the PAC and send
it back to barracks no step was taken by the state government in this
regard. To rub salt on the wounds the state government all along accused
Muslims for all what went wrong in the city, formerly called as Manchester
of Asia. Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) was particularly
singled out for accusations. A number of SIMI activists were arrested for
doing nothing and breaking no laws. On the other hand breach of law by the
activists of several saffron parties and their participation in the
violence was never ever acknowledge.
On the other hand several Muslim leaders were implicated in false cases
and put into jails for no apparent reason. Principal of Faiz-e-Aam Inter
College, Sulaiman who is also the president of the city unit of the Muslim
League was arrested before the correspondent of a leading national daily.
The journalist was even threatened against reporting the incident.
Sulaiman is still languishing in the jail like many other innocent people
arrested during the riots.
The riots in Kanpur should not even be called a communal incident as it
was a one sided terror unleashed on the innocent Muslims of the city. More
or less three dozen people were killed during these riots all of them
Muslims except ADM, AB Pathak. Contrary to the reports he was not killed
by any stray bullet coming from a mosque as was being claimed by the PAC.
The bullet found in his body was found to be one used by only the police.
If there was any iota of doubt that the PAC was behind the incidents of
violence in the city, it ended when the tension immediately receded with
the deployment of the Rapid Action Force and the withdrawal of the PAC.
Still the government is not ready to accept that the PAC was behind the
violence in Kanpur and not ready to punish its personnel who set the whole
city on fire.
A number of organizations have demanded the government to disband the PAC
that has become a communal force in itself. It is the right time that the
government takes stern actions against the PAC and disband a terrorizing
force that has become synonymous with terror, brutality, partiality and
has no inkling to restore the law. Its personnel responsible for
unleashing terror and killing innocent people should also be brought to
book and punished severely. PAC personnel responsible for planned genocide
of a number of people in Meerut and Maliana more than a decade ago are
still roaming scot free. This immunity of criminals can cause severe
erosion of trust on law enforcing agencies and the law itself.
Secular forces of the country should come forward and act immediately to
save the country from these sorts of terrorizing forces. If, forces
working from inside the government start taking the law of land in their
own hands thinking of the immunity the law provides, it will definitely
mean creation of mistrust among the sections who are affected by such
forces. It is Muslims today in Kanpur, next time it may be any other
community or any particular group.
We have to give our media too a lesson or two in presenting the news in
true prospect. Our media failed completely to cover an important incident
that took place in the heart of the Capital. Instead of covering the
incident and condemning its perpetrators the media tried to black out the
whole incident and still poses as if nothing happened in New Delhi on 5