13 Jun 2023 4:36 PM GMT
Amidst rising communal tension in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district, Hindi poet Ashok Vajpayee and Delhi University professor Apoorvanand have written to the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, urging them to take immediate action to prevent a ‘Mahapanchayat’ proposed to be held in Purola town on June 15. The quaint hill town of Purola has...
Amidst rising communal tension in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district, Hindi poet Ashok Vajpayee and Delhi University professor Apoorvanand have written to the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, urging them to take immediate action to prevent a ‘Mahapanchayat’ proposed to be held in Purola town on June 15.
The quaint hill town of Purola has been plunged into a communal frenzy over the alleged kidnapping of a 14-year-old girl by two men – a Muslim and a Hindu – on May 26, which has been termed a case of ‘love jihad’ by local residents. While both accused were arrested promptly, the incident provoked deep communal tension in the town, which has eventually spread to neighbouring areas in the state. Over the following days, certain outfits reportedly held protests in several areas and attacked the shops and houses of Muslims in Purola.
Not only this, notices in the name of one ‘Devbhumi Raksha Sangathan’ were pasted on the shutters of shops owned by Muslim traders, threateningthem to vacate the premises before the Mahapanchayat on June 15 or face dire consequences. It has further been claimed that ‘Vishwa Hindu Parishad’ has also written a letter to the Tehri-Garhwal administration saying that if Muslims – euphemistically referred to as ‘the particular community’ – do not leave from certain belts of Uttarakhand, the group, along with Hindu Yuva Vahini and Tehri-Garhwal Traders’ Union will block the highway on June 20 in protest. Reports suggest that several Muslim families, fearing for their safety, have left the town following the hate campaign against them.
Apoorvanand and Vajpayee – the authors of the appeals sent to the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court – have voiced their concerns about the internal displacement of Muslim families in the region, as well as the possibility of communal violence. The events that have taken place in Purola and the call for the Mahapanchayat are ‘precursors’ to large-scale violence, the duo has warned. Citing the guidelines given by the Supreme Court to deal with lynching and mob violence in the landmark Tehseen Poonawalla judgement, the letter states:
“[These] events are illustrative of the state government’s failure to follow the guidelines in Tehseen Poonawalla v. Union of India, [which], inter alia, provided for ‘preventive measures’ to be undertaken by state governments to prevent precisely the events currently unfolding in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand.”
Therefore, the chief justices have been urged to urgently intervene in order to “protect the life, limb, and property of those under attack and against whom the Mahapanchayat has been scheduled to be held. The letter states:
“Under these circumstances, [we] are writing to Your Lordships hoping for prompt action in your capacity as the head of the judiciary to take immediate action to prevent the Mahapanchayat from taking place on 15 June 2023. It is also respectfully urged that directions may be issued to the state government of Uttarakhand to take the necessary steps to protect the lives of those under threat. Further. those who have been forced to leave their shops and homes should be provided compensation and rehabilitated with the adequate protection. It is respectfully submitted that such events are an anathema to the rule of law and cannot be countenanced in a parliamentary democracy. They threaten the very secular fabric which binds the country together.”
There are also reports that Muslim religious leaders have called for a counter "mahapanchayat" on June 18.
Read the letter here.