Tripura HC takes suo motu cognisance of anti-Muslim violence in the state CJP had also written to the National Commission for Minorities

30, Oct 2021 | CJP Team

The Tripura High Court has taken suo motu cognisance of the various reports of anti-minority violence in the state, and has asked the government to file its response by November 10.

The court took note of the violence reported in various newspapers on October 26 in the districts of North Tripura, Unakoti as well as Sipahijala. The order read, “We direct the respondents [government] to file further affidavits before this Court on or before 10th November, 2021 specifically dealing with preventive measures they had taken or what is their plan of scuttling the design of stoking communal passion or to perpetrate in the violence.”

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The Bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice S. Talapatra appreciated the steps taken by various political parties to restore peace and order within the state. It said, “These steps, in our considered view, will go a long way in regaining the confidence of the citizens at large. However, these steps need to be further expanded.”

The court has suggested that the government may consider forming peace committees, not only at district levels, but also at sub-divisional levels, and if necessary, at panchayat levels as well. It further said, “We call upon all political parties to participate fully in such peace process so that confidence of the people of the state can be restored and the underlying strife that exists can be suitably dealt with.”

What has the government told the court?

The Advocate General, SS Dey provided a note to the court indicating some of the important steps taken by them to maintain communal harmony as well as action taken against the perpetrator of such violence.

The government, through its counsel, told the division bench that on October 26, as many as 3,500 people participated in a rally organised by right-wing group, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) against the vandalism of Durga Puja Pandals and Hindu Temples in Bangladesh. They have further stated that during the protest march, a clash took place between both communities which allegedly led to burning of 3 shops and damage to 3 houses belonging to the Muslim community.

Further, the government stated that two FIRs have been registered at the Panisagar Police Station and allegations have been made regarding damage to mosque, theft of property and outraging the modesty of women. There are also counter allegations by the right-wing groups that during their alleged peaceful protest march, they were abused, threatened and attacked.

The government has also claimed, “Both cases are counter cases. Investigation of both cases is in progress.”

The court was also informed that subsequently, large groups of Muslims assembled at various places in Unakoti and North Tripura District and only by active deployment and persuasion, the people were dispersed. They also told the division bench that many pictures and videos are doing the rounds on social media, and that the Police have registered an FIR to identify the “miscreant” responsible for spreading misinformation, that has the potential to disturb the communal harmony.

The government has said, “State Police has undertaken various steps including deployment of additional security personnel, guarding of religious places, peace meetings, additional vehicular mobiles etc to maintain peace. All necessary arrangements to maintain peace in the State are being made by the State Government.”

Observations and directions

After perusing the government note, the court indicated that the government’s sole concern is “protection of life, liberty and property of all citizens of Tripura.”

The court then recorded, “There can be no reiteration that the State owes its responsibilities insofar as maintenance of law and order as well as providing citizens with the security to protect their life, livelihood as well as their properties. Today’s local newspapers of Tripura indicate that an uneasy calm is prevalent and no repetition of the occurrences which took place on 26th October, 2021 has yet taken place. It is further informed that all necessary steps are being taken by the State to ensure that such occurrences are not repeated.”

While directing the state to file an affidavit stating the stages at which the investigation is going on and as to whether any accused has been apprehended, the court has also told the government to take immediate action.

As rare as it may seem, the court appreciated the media at large, in particular the print media who have taken up a very active positive role in trying to restore peace and order within the state. The court said, “We assert that the media shall remain vigilant at all times and continue discharging its duty in a responsible manner which it has already exhibited.”

Since the government claimed that there is false information doing the rounds, the court also directed the State to initiate appropriate action against all such social media platforms in order to ensure that false, fictitious and or fabricated news articles or visual footages are not published on social media platforms.

CJP, has also written to the National Minorities Commission to take cognisance of the attacks and conduct a thorough inquiry into the targeted violence against the Muslims.

The matter will now be heard on November 12.

The order may be read here:

Related:

Anti-Muslim violence flares in Tripura, CJP writes to Minorities Commission

Tripura: Right-wing mobs vandalise mosques in response to the attack on minority Hindus in Bangladesh

Delhi: Students, activists detained for protesting Tripura violence

 

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