Killing of Muslims by the PAC in Aligarh: The First Fall-Out of Advani Yatra
Prof Iqbal Ansari
Milli Gazette Online
12 April 2006
Aligarh: The incident of April 5, 2006 in Aligarh at Dahi-Wali Gali, over the manner in which Hindu Puja celebrations were being organized at a disputed site, especially the use of loudspeakers, could be easily treated as no more than a brawl. Even if the administration had not anticipated trouble over the issue which has been festering for decades causing periodic communal tensions the modalities of celebrations could have been amicably settled, if the administration had been alert, efficient and impartial.
The events of the next day indicate that the Hindu shop keepers and residents of the locality, were instigated by political-social groups, who are engaged in the current Hindu mobilization over minority appeasement—like the promise of restoration of minority character of the A.M.U—not to take Muslim assertiveness lying down (whose local manifestation was provided by aggressive postures of some Muslims)
[It needs to be recalled that about October 1978 Aligarh riots Paul R. Brass has noted that “the killing of Bhure Lal provided the pretext though the buildup to the riot had been a several-months-long political campaign over the continuing issues of the status of the A.M.U”.]
Confirmation of the assumption of relation of the incidents of 5-6 April to the larger issue of anti-minorityism is provided by the BJP spokesperson who characterized the violence as the result of appeasement policies of the Central and U.P Governments
(Hindustan Times, April 8)
It appears that like what N.C Saxena had reported after his inquiry into 1982 Meerut (Feroz Building) PAC massacre of Muslims that “the district administration perceived threat to public peace only from Muslims, the order from the senior officers in the district to the police could be summarized in one phrase: Muslims must be taught a lesson— the PAC and the Police faithfully implemented this policy,” the firing by the PAC under written orders of the Aligarh S.P (city) at a Muslim crowd which had caused no serious injury to any citizen or official has no other explanation. The manner of firing was targeted, which caused death of four young Muslim boys (aged between 21 and 30) and serious injuries to about fifteen others.
The PAC had started such targeted killings of Muslims during 1978 riots, when, according to the PUCL (Delhi) report, those killed by PAC bullet were either in their houses or in a mosque. The Report of the PUCL team led by Justice VM Tarkunde, Justice Sachar, Dr. R.M Pal on 1990 riots in Aligarh, made the observation that “at many places PAC fired at Muslims, when neither they (the PAC) nor the Hindus were attacked The PAC acted as a highly communalized force”.
In a joint statement signed by this writer along with representatives of other organizations in Aligarh including the District Samajwadi Party President, we have characterized the firing as totally unjustified and unwarranted by the situation and have demanded impartial inquiry to fix responsibility for failure of the administration and for using unlawful force. We have welcomed the prompt announcement of payment of compensation to victims and suspension and transfer of officials.
There is a need for all human rights groups active in this area to see to it that the officials responsible for unlawful firing are brought to justice. There is a need for a joint intervention of the NHRC and NCM.
The Aligarh PAC massacre must be treated as a first fall-out of Advani-Rajnath Singh Yatra. There is therefore a need for peace activists to get alerted. Lok Ekta-peace/ Sadbhav committees need to become active, focusing attention on resolution of local ethno-religious disputes and keeping an eye on the media, political parties and the district officials and the police.
The Aligarh riots of April 5-6, 2006 send the following message:
(a) Decades old case of conflicting claims of mandir-masjid still lying in the law-court is a permanent source of communal tension. The law-courts should dispose of civil suits regarding communally sensitive disputes expeditiously, as had been advised by the Allahabad High Court about Ayodhya mandir-masjid dispute in 1954. However the option of community leaders settling such disputes by mutual accommodation should be adopted to secure durable peace.
(b) There is a need for an empowered statutory commission/ council for conflict resolution and management, in liaison with civil society organizations, at national, regional and local levels to settle sensitive inter-group disputes including ethno-religious issues causing Hindu-Muslim conflict for over two centuries
(c) The new police act, which is on the anvil, should provide for non-lethal methods of controlling unarmed mobs; use of fire-power to be made only when there is imminent grave threat to life (and not property), as required by the U.N Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Fire arms by Law-Enforcement Officials, 1990.
(d) Inculcation of secular human rights attitudes in the police and personnel of other law-enforcement agencies and eradication of communal biases based on stereotypes that they generally harbour.
(e) Making these agencies socially diverse at all levels with adequate minority representation.
(f) Treating Muslims and Christians as normal Indian citizens, which requires de-stereotyping them and their
It needs to be noted that secularization and social diversification of the police and paramilitary forces has been recommended by the National Integration Council as well as by the National Police Commission (Report VI, 1981), endorsed by the 1997 Home Ministry’s Guidelines For Communal Harmony. The last in this claim has been the National Commission To Review the Working of the Constitution which has recommended, special recruitment of under represented, minorities in not only police and paramilitary.