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Communalism

Former Civil Servants Express 'Deep Concern' About Growing Communal Campaigns in Uttarakhand

"It is a mystery to us as to why, despite information being available in the public domain, the criminal campaign against minority communities underway since 26 May 2023 has seen no action whatsoever being taken by the administration beyond the registration of a case against "unknown persons" after posters were put up."

New Delhi: Fifty-two former civil servants, who are members of the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), have written to the chief secretary and director general of police, Uttarakhand to express their “deep concern” about recent communal, anti-Muslim programmes in the state.

[Read The Wire‘s report on what has been happening in Uttarakhand here.]

There has been a concerted campaign against minority groups in the state, the letter says, and yet the authorities have not taken action against those behind it. “It is a mystery to us as to why, despite information being available in the public domain, the criminal campaign against minority communities underway since 26 May 2023 has seen no action whatsoever being taken by the administration beyond the registration of a case against “unknown persons” after posters were put up,” the letter states.

They have urged the chief secretary and DGP to act immediately, ensure there are no more boycott campaigns or calls for violence, and those who have been forced to flee their homes be rehabilitated.

Read the full letter below.

§

Shri S.S. Sandhu,
Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttarakhand

Shri Ashok Kumar,
Director General of Police, Govt. of Uttarakhand

Dear Sirs,

We are a group of former civil servants of the All India and Central Services who have worked in the Central and State Governments during our careers. As a group, we have no affiliation with any political party but believe in impartiality and neutrality and share a commitment to the Constitution of India.

We write today to express our deep concern at the developing situation in Uttarakhand, particularly in Uttarkashi and Tehri Garhwal districts.  We wish to draw, in particular, your attention to the fact that threats have been made regarding a mahapanchayat proposed to be held on 15 June 2023 in the town of Purola and a rally and “chakka jam” program on 20 June 2023 at Tehri, both explicitly associated with calls to expel Muslims from these areas.  We call upon you to ensure that no such criminal, communal or intimidatory program is permitted to take place on these dates or otherwise, and that the state police and administration functions as per the Constitution, the law, and the multiple directions of the Supreme Court to act against hate speech and mob violence.

Also read: Cross Marks on Doors, Cries of Extermination: How Uttarakhand Became Our Hate Speech Capital

We note that these programmes come in the wake of a communal campaign in the region, including bazaar bandh calls in over 12 towns and rallies and hate speech against Muslims, that has already led to 42 Muslim families reportedly fleeing the town of Purola on May 28th and to Muslim shopkeepers vacating their premises in Purola, Badkot and possibly other locations.  On the basis of available reports in the media, we cannot avoid the conclusion that this ongoing campaign is a criminal enterprise explicitly aimed at threatening our fellow citizens.

We note, in particular, that as per a report in the Hindustan Times on 5 June 2023, posters were put up in Purola on Muslim owned shops demanding that their owners vacate before the mahapanchayat on June 15th. Amar Ujala subsequently reported on 11 June 2023 that a planning meeting for such a mahapanchayat has been held in Purola (and that a number of figures at the forefront of the anti-minority campaign attended this meeting). We also note that on 9 June 2023, Hindustan reported that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had sent a letter to the Tehri District Magistrate saying that an “ultimatum” has been given to all members of the Muslim community to leave the Jaunpur valley and in particular the towns of Nainbagh, Jakhar, Nagtibba, Thatyur, Saklana, Damta, Purola, Barkot and Uttarkashi, and that if this ultimatum is not complied with, these organisations will jam roads and hold protests in Tehri on 20 June 2023.

It is a mystery to us as to why, despite information being available in the public domain, the criminal campaign against minority communities underway since 26 May 2023 has seen no action whatsoever being taken by the administration beyond the registration of a case against “unknown persons” after posters were put up. We wish to draw your attention to the fact that in April 2022, a similar mahapanchayat was planned in Haridwar, until the Hon’ble Supreme Court explicitly directed that the Chief Secretary of the state would be held responsible for any hate speech at this gathering after which the administration ensured the gathering did not take place, indicating that it was aware of what was likely to happen.  We also wish to draw your attention to the fact that on 30 May 2023 twenty three Supreme Court lawyers wrote to the Governor of Uttarakhand, pointing out that the state is in contempt of court and in particular of the 21.10.2022 order of the Court in Shaheen Abdullah vs. Union of India (WP(C) 940/2022), wherein the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi were specifically directed to “ensure that immediately as and when any speech or any action takes place which attracts offences such as Sections 153A, 153B and 295A and 505 of the IPC etc., suo moto action will be taken to register cases even if no complaint is forthcoming and proceed against the offenders in accordance with law.” Yet till date nothing has been done.

We finally note that this intimidation campaign is being justified on the grounds of so-called “love jihad” and that the Chief Minister of the state has been repeatedly making public statements claiming that “land jihad” and “love jihad” will not be tolerated in the state, notwithstanding that it is against both the law and our Constitution to target entire communities on the basis of supposed wrongdoing by individuals. We also note that the state government has been claiming that hundreds of religious shrines, the vast majority of them mazars, have been demolished in the last two months.

Uttarakhand is a state known for its social peace and harmony. Hence, we call upon you to act immediately, and in particular to:

1. Ensure that no communal, intimidatory, hate focused or other programme is permitted to be held on June 15th, June 20th, or any other date in the state of Uttarakhand.

2. Ensure that any person, whatever her/his political affiliation, who instigates or indulges in violence, harassment, or intimidation of any other person on the basis of their religious identity is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

3. Ensure the full implementation in Uttarakhand of the 2018 judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Tehseen Poonawalla vs. Union of India and Ors. for prevention of hate speech and mob violence.

4. Direct the provision of security and compensation to any person or community who has been forced to flee from any area due to their religious identity.

We urge you to initiate action on the above on an urgent basis.

SATYAMEVA JAYATE

Yours faithfully,

Constitutional Conduct Group (52 signatories, as below)

1. S.P. Ambrose IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI
2. Gopalan Balagopal IAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
3. Sharad Behar IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
4. Madhu Bhaduri IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Portugal
5. Sundar Burra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
6. Rachel Chatterjee IAS (Retd.) Former Special Chief Secretary, Agriculture, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh
7. Gurjit Singh Cheema IAS (Retd.) Former Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Govt. of Punjab
8. F.T.R. Colaso IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Karnataka & former Director General of Police, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir
9. Anna Dani IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
10. Vibha Puri Das IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI
11. P.R. Dasgupta IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, GoI
12. Pradeep K. Deb IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Deptt. Of Sports, GoI
13. M.G. Devasahayam IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana

 

 

14.  S.K. Guha IAS (Retd.) Former Joint Secretary, Department of

Women & Child Development, GoI

15. Meena Gupta IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI
16. Ravi Vira Gupta IAS (Retd.) Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India
17. Wajahat Habibullah IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, GoI and former Chief Information Commissioner
18. Siraj Hussain IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Agriculture, GoI
19. Kamal Jaswal IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI
20. Subodh Lal IPoS (Resigned) Former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Communications, GoI
21. Harsh Mander IAS (Retd.) Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
22. L.L. Mehrotra IFS (Retd.) Former Special Envoy to the Prime Minister and former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, GoI
23. Aditi Mehta IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
24. Malay Mishra IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Hungary
25. Sunil Mitra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI
26. Noor Mohammad IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority, Govt. of India
27. Deb Mukharji IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal
28. Shiv Shankar Mukherjee IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
29. Nagalsamy IA&AS (Retd.) Former Principal Accountant General, Tamil Nadu & Kerala
30. Sobha Nambisan IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Secretary (Planning), Govt. of Karnataka
31. Surendra Nath IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Finance Commission, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
32. Amitabha Pande IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
33. G.K. Pillai IAS (Retd.) Former Home Secretary, GoI
34. Rajesh Prasad IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to the Netherlands
35. R.M. Premkumar IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
36. T.R. Raghunandan IAS (Retd.) Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, GoI
37. V.P. Raja IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission
38. K. Sujatha Rao IAS (Retd.) Former Health Secretary, GoI
39. Aruna Roy IAS (Resigned)
40. A.K. Samanta IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police (Intelligence), Govt. of West Bengal
41. N.C. Saxena IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Planning

Commission, GoI

42. Ardhendu Sen IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
43. Ashok Kumar Sharma IFoS (Retd.) Former MD, State Forest Development Corporation, Govt. of Gujarat
44. Ashok Kumar Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia
45. Navrekha Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Indonesia
46. Avay Shukla IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary (Forests & Technical Education), Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
47. Satyavir Singh IRS (Retd.) Former Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, GoI
48. Tara Ajai Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Karnataka
49. A.K. Srivastava IAS (Retd.) Former Administrative Member, Madhya Pradesh Administrative Tribunal
50. Anup Thakur IAS (Retd.) Former Member, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
51. P.S.S. Thomas IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission
52. Ashok Vajpeyi IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi