In the wake of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) UN High Commissioner, Michele Bachelet, has filed an intervention in the Supreme Court petition challenging the constitutionality of the Citizenship Amendment Act, as she is critical of CAA. Responding to her, India’s Foreign Minister S. Jai Shanker strongly rebutted her criticism, saying that the body (UNHCR) has been wrong and is blind to the problem of cross border terrorism. The issue on hand is the possibility of scores of people, mainly Muslims, being declared as stateless. The problem at hand is the massive exercise of going through the responses/documents from over 120 crore of Indian population and screening documents, which as seen in Assam, yield result which are far from truthful or necessary.

The issue of CAA has been extensively debated and despite heavy critique of the same by large number of groups and despite the biggest mass opposition ever to any move in Independent India, the Government is determined on going ahead with an exercise which is reminiscent of the dreaded regimes which are sectarian and heartless to its citizens, which have indulged in extinction of large mass of people on grounds of citizenship, race etc. The Foreign minister’s assertion is that it is a matter internal to India, where India’s sovereignty is all that matters! As far as sovereignty is concerned we should be clear that in current times any sovereign power has to consider the need to uphold the citizenship as per the principle of non-discrimination which is stipulated in Art.26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political (ICCPR) rights.

Can such policies, which affect large number of people and are likely to affect their citizenship be purely regarded as ‘internal’? With the World turning into a global village, some global norms have been formulated during last few decades. The norms relate to Human rights and migrations have been codified. India is also signatory to many such covenants in including ICCPR, which deals with the norms for dealing with refugees from other countries. One is not talking of Chicago speech of Swami Vivekanand, which said that India’s greatness has been in giving shelter to people from different parts of the World; one is also not talking of the Tattariaya Upanishad’s ‘Atithi Devovhav’ or ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam’ from Mahaupanishad today.

What are being talked about are the values and opinions of organizations which want to ensure to preserve of Human rights of all people Worldwide. In this matter India is calling United Nations body as ‘foreign party’; having no locus standi in the case as it pertains to India’s sovereignty. The truth is that since various countries are signatories to UN covenants, UN bodies have been monitoring the moves of different states and intervening at legal level as Amicus (Friend of the Court) to the courts in different countries and different global bodies. Just to mention some of these, UN and High Commissioner for Human Rights has often submitted amicus briefs in different judicial platforms. Some examples are their intervention in US Supreme Court, European Court of Human Rights, International Criminal Court, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. These are meant to help the Courts in areas where UN bodies have expertise.

Expertise on this has been jointly formulated by various nations. These interventions also remind the nations as to what global norms have been evolved and what are the obligations of individual states to the values which have evolved over a period of time. Arvind Narrain draws our attention to the fact that, “commission has intervened in the European Court of Human Rights in cases involving Spain and Italy to underscore the principle of non-refoulement, which bars compulsory expulsion of illegal migrants… Similarly, the UN has intervened in the International Criminal Court in a case against the Central African Republic to explicate on the international jurisprudence on rape as a war crime.”

From time to time organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been monitoring the status of Human rights of different countries. This puts those countries in uncomfortable situation and is not welcome by those establishments. How should this contradiction between ‘internal matter’, ‘sovereignty’ and the norms for Human rights be resolved? This is a tough question at the time when the freedom indices and democratic ethos are sliding downwards all over the world. In India too has slid down on the scale of these norms.

In India we can look at the intervention of UN body from the angle of equality and non discrimination. Democratic spirit should encourage us to have a rethink on the matters which have been decided by the state. In the face of the greatest mass movement of Shaheen bagh, the state does need to look inwards and give a thought to international morality, the spirit of global family to state the least.

The popular perception is that when Christians were being persecuted in Kandhmal the global Christian community’s voice was not strong enough. Currently in the face of Delhi carnage many a Muslim majority countries have spoken. While Mr. Modi claims that his good relations with Muslim countries are a matter of heartburn to the parties like Congress, he needs to relook at his self gloating. Currently Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia and many Muslim majority countries have spoken against what Modi regime is unleashing in India. Bangladesh, our neighbor, has also seen various protests against the plight of Muslims in India. More than the ‘internal matter’ etc. what needs to be thought out is the moral aspect of the whole issue. We pride ourselves in treading the path of morality. What does that say in present context when while large section of local media is servile to the state, section of global media has strongly brought forward what is happening to minorities in India.  

The hope is that Indian Government wakes up to its International obligations, to the worsening of India’s image in the World due to CAA and the horrific violence witnessed in Delhi.


Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

Delhi Violence: Genesis of Carnage

Ram Puniyani

They say ‘history repeats itself first as a tragedy and then as a farce’. In case of India, communal violence not only keeps repeating itself, the pattern of the tragedy keeps changing every next time. Some features of the violence are constant, but they are under the wraps mostly. The same can be said about the Delhi violence (February 2020). The interpretations, the causative factors are very discernible, but those who are generally the perpetrators have a knack of shifting the blame on the victim community or those who stand for the victims.

As the carnage began presumably in the aftermath of statement of Kapil Mishra of BJP, which was given in front of a top police official, in which he threatened to get the roads emptied. The roots of violence were sown earlier. The interpretations given by the Hindu Nationalist camp is that the riot is due to the changing demographic profile of the area with Muslims increasing in number in those areas, and coming up of Shaheen Bagh which was presented was like ‘Mini Pakistan’. As per them the policies of BJP in matters of triple talaq, Article 370 and CAA, NPR, NRC has unnerved the ‘radical’ elements and so this violence.

As such before coming to the observations of the activists and scholars of communal violence in India, we can in brief say that violence, in which nearly 46 people have died, include one from police and another from intelligence. Majority victims are Muslims. The violence started right under the nose of the police and the ruling party. From the videos and other eye accounts, police not only looked the other way around, at places it assisted those attacking the innocent victims and burning and looting selective shops. Home minister, Amit Shah, was nowhere on the scene. For first three days the rioters had free run. After the paramilitary force was brought in; the violence simmered and slowly reduced in intensity. The state AAP Government, which in a way is the byproduct of RSS supported Anna Hazare movement, was busy reading Hanuman Chalisa and praying at Rajghat with eyes closed to the mayhem going in parts of Delhi.

Communal violence is the sore point of Indian society. It did begin during colonial period due to British policy of ‘Divide and Rule’. At root cause was the communal view of looking at history and pro active British acts to sow the seeds of Hindu-Muslim divide At other level the administrative and police the British were fairly neutral. On one hand was the national movement, uniting the people and creating and strengthening the fraternal feeling among all Indians. On the other were Muslim Communalists (Muslim League) and Hindu Communalists (Hindu Mahasabha, RSS) who assisted the British goal of ‘divide and rule’ promoting hatred between the communities. After partition the first major change was the change in attitude of police and administration which started tilting against Muslims. Major studies by Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, Paul Brass and Omar Khalidi demonstrated that anti Muslim bias is discernible in during and after the riots.

Now the partisan role of police has been visible all through. Sri Krishna Commission report brought forth this fact; as did the research of the Ex DIG of UP police Dr. V.N.Rai. Dr. Rai’s studies also concluded that no communal violence can go on beyond 24 hours unless state administration is complicit in the carnage. In one of the violence, investigation of which was done by concerned Citizen’s team (Dhule, 2013) this author observed that police itself went on to undertake the rampage against Muslims and Muslim properties.

General observation about riots is that violence sounds to be spontaneous, as the Home Minister is pointing out, but as such it is well planned act. Again the violence is orchestrated in such a way that it seems Muslims have begun the riots. Who casts the First stone? To this scholars point out that the carnage is so organized that the encircled community is forced to throw the first stone. At places the pretext is made that ‘they’ (minorities) have thrown the first stone.

The pretexts against minorities are propagated, in Gujarat violence Godhra train burning, in Kandhamal the murder of Swami Laxamannand and now Shaheen bagh! The Hindu Muslim violence began as riots. But it is no more a riot, two sides are not involved. It is plain and simple anti Minority violence, in which some from the majority are also the victims.

This violence is possible as the ‘Hate against this minority’ is now more or less structural. The deeper Hate against Muslims and partly against Christians; has been cultivated since long and Hindu nationalist politics, right from its Shakhas to the social media have been put to use for spreading Hatred. The prevalent deeper hate has been supplanted this time by multiple utterances from BJP leaders, Modi (Can be recognized by clothes), Shah (press EVM machine button so hard that current is felt in Shaheen Bagh), Anurag Thakur (Goli (bullet) Maro) Yogi Aditya Nath (If Boli (Words)Do not work Goli will) and Parvesh Varma (They will be out to rape).

The incidental observation of the whole tragedy is the coming to surface of true colors of AAP, which not only kept mum as the carnage was peaking but also went on to praise the role of police in the whole episode. With Delhi carnage “Goli Maro” seems to be becoming the central slogan of Hindu nationalists. Delhi’s this violence has been the first one in which those getting killed are more due to bullets than by swords or knifes! Leader’s slogans do not go in vain! Courts the protectors of our Constitution seem to be of little help as if one of them like Murlidhar Rao gives the verdict to file against hate mongers, he is immediately transferred.

And lastly let’s recall the academic study of Yale University. It concludes; BJP gains in electoral strength after every riot’. In India the grip of communalism is increasing frighteningly. Efforts are needed to combat Hate and Hate mongers.


Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED