Special Reports

Convention demands dismissal of Chidambaram

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By Abdul Bari Masoud

New Delhi: While demanding the dismissal of Union Home Minister P C Chidambaram, leaders of various political parties and social and human rights activists announced here during a convention on 9 July that they will launch a nationwide stir against the targeting of Muslim youths in the name of fighting terror.

Speaking at a public meeting on “Politics of Terror: Targeting the Muslim Youth”, they said that there was rising concern across the country about the large-scale arrests and harassment of Muslim youths by the security forces. They urged the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to dismiss Chidambaram from his cabinet.  Calling upon the UPA government to take immediate measures to prevent the harassment and victimization of the innocent minorities and to set up fast track courts for the speedy disposal of the cases of terrorism slapped against a large number of innocent young Muslims who are in prison for years without trial.

Veteran CPI leader A B Bardhan said he did not consider Chidambaram as the Union Home Minister. Condemning the “massacre” of poor tribals in Chhattisgarh, he said that the Home Minister was not a “sensible” (maqool) person. 

  Echoing his views, noted social activist Swami Agnivesh said the Home Minister was chiefly responsible for the victimization of Muslim youths. “When innocent tribals were killed, the very next day he (Chidambaram) announced celebration”.  Questioning the need of the NCTC, CPI secretary and MP D Raja has criticized the government for its insensitivity towards the victimization of minorities. He pointed out that Chidambaram only said sorry for the killing of innocent tribals, which reflects the attitude of the government.

Member Parliament Mohammad Adeeb lamented that the UPA government has no gut to take on the communal forces as it fears that it will be accused of appeasing the minorities. Lok Janshakti Party leader and former union minister Ram Vilas Paswan said they would take the battle inside and outside the Parliament.

Earlier addressing the conference Union Minister Farooq Abdullah said the Union Cabinet will soon discuss the issue of Muslim youths being falsely implicated in terror cases. “A solution will be worked out”, he said while the audience hooted him for keeping mum over the ongoing harassment of Muslim youths across the country.

He, however, said majority of Hindus in the country understand the plight of Muslims being targeted by security forces on terror charges but the minorities must take part in the legal process to ensure timely delivery of justice.

The Convention noted that young men are being picked up without explanation, taken into police custody, beaten and tortured and eventually thrown into jail awaiting trial for years on end. Several such detainees have died in custody, the latest case being of Qateel Siddiqui who died under mysterious circumstances in Pune’s Yerwada high security jail. He was arrested last November for a case of fake currency in which his complicity had still not been established.

There has been silence about the disappearance of Fasih Mahmood, the engineer picked up in Saudi Arabia at the behest of Indian authorities. Except for denying any knowledge of his whereabouts, there has been no response from the UPA government about efforts to trace an Indian citizen whose family is now running from pillar to post in search of justice. Senior journalist Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi remains in jail on charges of terrorism, with the police still to file a chargesheet against him.

These are just a few cases of hundreds, with official reports now admitting that a majority of prisoners in Indian jails are Muslims. The situation today is such that minorities no longer feel safe in their own homes.

Passing a resolution, the leaders urged the UPA government at the centre and state governments to set up fast track courts for the speedy disposal of the cases of terrorism slapped against a large number of innocent young Muslims who are in prison for years without trial and to take immediate steps for the rehabilitation and compensation for those acquitted by the courts after years in jail for terror attacks they did not commit. It pledged to ensure that pressure continued to be exerted on the authorities to make them more sensitive and less authoritarian in dealing with the minorities in this country by raising the issue of illegal arrests, wrongful detention, and open torture of the Muslim youths, at different levels including Parliament.  

It announced the formation a fact-finding committee of eminent citizens to examine and report on the targeting of Muslim youths by the central and state governments as part of an overall effort to make the state accountable for the victimization and harassment of the minorities and to set up a working group to monitor the situation, collect and update data and sensitize the media and Parliamentarians on the issue through continuous interaction with them. It will also approach the National Minorities Commission and the National Human Rights Commission on a regular basis on this issue. Moreover, it will also provide basic legal counselling to the families of the victims. On the occasion a number of victims narrated their tales of woes. 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 July 2012 on page no. 13

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