The following is a communication from civil society activists who are organizing a People’s Tribunal to hold public hearings on Rajasthan’s experience with regard to State action in the name of countering terrorism and conversions. The hearings will be held in Jaipur on November 7 and 8, 2008.
We would like to invite you for a People's Tribunal on "State action in the name of Countering Terrorism and Conversion- Experiences ofRajasthan ", being organized in Jaipur on 7 and 8 November, 2008 at Rajasthan Samgra Sewa Sangh, Durgapura, Jaipur.
As you are aware, the Muslim community is being stereotyped in Rajasthan, like in the rest of country, making them responsible for the bomb blasts. In the aftermath of the Jaipur bomb blasts of May 13, 2008, a large number of Muslims were rounded up by the Rajasthan Police, in many cases violating the rules of the CrPC relating to investigation and interrogation.
The first attack was on the poor Bengali-speaking migrants, all of whom were Muslims. In the name of being called Bangladeshis, they faced the wrath of the State. Many of these migrants were arrested, they lost their livelihoods and finally through an indiscriminate campaign of the administration, police and saffron groups like the ABVP, BYM, with the objective of "pushing them back" into Bangladesh. Basti after basti was emptied of these migrants and their land taken away. Several of these families who came from West Bengal forty to fifty years ago were pushed into Bangaldesh.
The second attack was on the local Muslims. Initially several hundreds were rounded up in police stations in Jaipur. Later more than fifty people were picked up from various districts of Rajasthan and subjected to several days of interrogation, which for some went beyond three weeks. In the month of August more than 1 3 of them were arrested and one picked up from Lucknow. The reporting in the local and metro media was such that demonised the entire Muslim community and also individuals who were taken into police custody. One electronic channel went to the extent of calling two innocent doctors "Doctor Death and Doctor Terror?". By and large the Muslim in Rajasthan community is feeling insecure and wronged.
The Rajasthan High Court bar and district bar associations too were not far behind and passed resolutions that they would not let any lawyer stand up for a "terrorist", denying the accused the right to be represented in court and declaring them guilty even before a trial. The judiciary too has been seeing the cases through the eyes of the anti-Muslim public opinion that has been built up.
The Rajasthan police, which linked terrorism to a community and decided to only target them in their investigation, went a step further. Between October 14 and16 the Rajasthan Police Academy organized a workshop on "Islamic Terrorism" for senior police officials, where subjects like International Islamic Jehadi networks, Muslim religious and political organizations in India, genesis of Islamic fundamentalism and Wahabi Islam, Anatomy of a Blast, among others, were discussed by experts.
The Christian community in Rajasthan too is constantly told that they are "luring the poor to convert them to Christianity". Apart from the several public attacks on Christians by the VHP and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram people, the BJP Government has aggressively bulldozed the State Assembly into passing twice a Conversion law in the name of "Freedom of Religion", which are pending with the President of India. The State also indulged in illegal and vindictive action against one Christian Institution where the Government even cancelled their registration and in another case refused to sanction prosecution under significant sanctions against the VHP goons who had under the media glare attacked a pastor.
This tribunal will see the deposition of the survivors of the bomb blast and those victimized by the saffron brigade, police, media and judiciary. The programme will begin on the afternoon of the 7th and continue till the evening of the 8th. The final programme will be sent to you shortly.
We request you to participate in this tribunal and listen to the stories of these people who need support in their struggle for justice. This tribunal will also help us build a public opinion that Indian democracy and the secular fabric cannot be attacked so easily and that India is for all its citizens, whatever be the religion, caste, creed.
People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Rajasthan,
Rajasthan Smagra Sewa Sangh,
Jamaat e Islami Hind, Rajasthan,
Samta Sainik Dal,
Centre for Dalit Rights,
All India Peace and Solidarity Organization, Rajasthan,
Jaipur Christian Fellowship and Rajasthan Christian Association,
National Muslim Women's Welfare Society, Jaipur,
Sohard Resource Centre for Peace and Harmony through the Arts,
Academy for Socio Legal Studies, and
Prem Krishan Sharma (9414055811)
Kavita Srivastava (9351562965)
Prof Salim 9829098734
Tek Chand Rahul - 9414238153
P. L Mimroth O Harold Singh (9314871749)
J K Sharma (9314888785)
Father Coelho (9414072244)
Nishat Hussein (9829334500)
Sabir Khan (9314513830)
Prakash Chaturvedi (9414073997)
Than Singh (2593533)
I Inaugural Session: 3 to 6.30 pm
National and State Perspective on the Theme
• Deposition by Jaipur Blast victims
• Deposition by survivors of Christian Atrocities
• Deposition by ordinary Muslims describing the fear psychosis
• Role of the State, Media and the Judiciary.
The Attack on Bengali Speaking Migrants
• Depositions by victims
• Response of the State, Media and the Judiciary)
Police detention and Arrests in the name of SIMI and accused in the blast cases
• Response of the State, Media and the Judiciary Session IV
Jury findings and conclusions