SC Directs Chief Secys, DGPs to Take 'Prompt' Action on Violence Against Kashmiris

The bench was hearing a plea relating to reported assaults, threats and social boycott of Kashmiris in the wake of the Pulwama attack.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from states where incidents of threat and violence against Kashmiris were reported following the Pulwama terror attack and directed their chief secretaries and DGPs to take “prompt” and necessary action.

The chief secretaries and director generals of police (DGPs) of Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, and the Delhi Police commissioner have been directed by the apex court to prevent incidents of “threat, assault and social boycott” of Kashmiris, including students.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also directed that the police officers, who were earlier appointed as nodal officers to deal with lynching incidents, would now be responsible to deal with cases of assaults on Kashmiris.

The bench asked the union home ministry to give wide publicity so that Kashmiri people after facing such incidents can approach the nodal officers.

“The chief secretaries, the DGPs and the Delhi Police Commissioner are directed to take prompt and necessary action to prevent the incidents of threat, assault, social boycott etc against Kashmiris and other minorities,” the bench also comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna said.

The bench was hearing a plea of Tariq Adeeb seeking a direction to the Centre and the states to prevent incidents of assaults, threats and social boycott of Kashmiris in the wake of the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioner, claimed that at the outset, 10 more incidents of assaults have taken place in various states after filing of the petition and necessary directions be issued urgently to stop them.

Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Centre said the ministry had issued the requisite advisory to states and Union territories (UTs) on this issue on February 17.

“The Centre has already issued advisory to all states and UTs on February 17 but we can’t tell the states about their specific actions that can be taken in such cases because law and order is a state subject,” the AG said.

Taking note of the submission, the bench referred to its earlier decision by which it had asked the states and union territories to appoint a senior police officer as nodal officer in each district to deal with the cases of mob violence.

It said the police officers will deal with the incidents pertaining to Kashmiris and other minorities in these states in the wake of the recent terror strike.

The bench has now listed the matter for further hearing on next Wednesday.

The plea had sought a direction to the Centre and other authorities for prosecuting people engaging in hate speech, and to appoint a nodal officer in every state and union territory, including politically-sensitive districts, to prevent acts of violence, discrimination and vigilantism.

It had also sought immediate setting up of a nationwide helpline number and a website containing contact details of the nodal officers appointed in politically-sensitive districts.

“There is a sudden rise in the incidents of crimes against Muslims and Kashmiris after the Pulwama terrorist attack on February 14 in which over 40 soldiers were killed… Immediately after the attack, mobs and vigilante groups engaged in vitriolic hate speech and began attacking, and threatening Muslims and Kashmiris throughout the country, the petition had said.

“These incidents are a part of organised hate campaign against Muslims and Kashmiri, most cases which are fabricated and the hysteria that now surrounds India has been engineered to gain political mileage

“The extremist groups have led vigilante mob attacks across the country to enforce nationalism by leaders of various groups who claim to promote and instigated hate crimes,” the petition had said.