Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Delhi's Trilokpuri riot update: A letter send to NHRC


The Hon’ble Chairperson,
National Human Rights Commission,
New Delhi


Sub: Urgent request for the Hon’ble NHRC to intervene to contain and curb the communal violence that has flared up in the Trilokpuri area of East Delhi.

Dear Sir,
This application is to request you to for urgent intervention to contain and curb the communal violence that has flared up in the Trilokpuri area of East Delhi over the past few days, around Diwali.

Immediately on the day after Diwali, i.e. 24 October 2014, initial reports started coming in that communal tension was prevailing in Trilokpuri area of East Delhi between the predominantly Hindu Valmiki community and the Muslims of the area. Apparently, there were some skirmishes between a few members of both the communities on 22 October 2014 over the placement of a mata ki chowki literally 50 sq yards from a local mosque in block 20 of Trilokpuri. The mata ki chowki is annual event in the area, however, in the past, no communal violence has been reported from the Trilokpuri area. There are reports on that on 22 October 2104 some lumpen Muslims boys who do not belong to that Block came to the mata ki chowki and tried to create mischief by showing disrespect to the religious function. Although there are varying versions of the initial spark for the communal tensions, it has been reported by both the sides that the police did little to either stop or contain the violence initially. Both the community members have reported that on the first day of the skirmishes, the police was a bystander to the violence.

On the intervening night between Friday-Saturday, i.e. 24-25 October, 2014, at about 4:00 a.m in the morning, a shop namely A-Z, selling readymade garments belonging to someone from the Muslim community opposite Block-28 of Trilokpuri was set ablaze. In the late morning of 25 October, there were incidents of stone-pelting between the two communities, which led to further escalation of the communal tension. On the same day several persons were injured in the police firing.

Several victim testimonies have come to our notice, which describe in detail the events of the past few days in Trilokpuri. A Muslim woman resident of 27 Block Trilokpuri reported that on 25 October, 2014, Saturday her husband and brother-in law were picked up by the police from her house at around 3:30 in the afternoon. In an extremely brutal action, over 20-25 policemen forced their way into her house by breaking several locks and attacking the family that was sacred and taking refuge on the third floor. Her husband was badly beaten up by these policemen, and his head was bleeding when he was dragged out of their house and illegally taken into police custody. Also, her brother-in-law was brutally assaulted, and one of his legs were so badly injured that he could barely walk. The brother-in-law is even otherwise a TB patient. The police also used physically assaulted and abused the womenfolk and children of the house before dragging these men out. Infact, she showed the injuries on her hand caused by this police action. During this entire police action, there were no women constables present.

In another incident on the same day, i.e. 25 October 2014, another woman resident of 32 block of Trilokpuri area reported that her nephew who was a young man and a scrap dealer was brutally beaten up and picked up by the police on his way back from collecting scrap. In fact, the local women protest against the police picking him up as he was an innocent boy but this was of no avail as the police dragged him away.

There have been eyewitness accounts of many such incidents in the Trilokpuri area over the last few days wherein local Muslim men have been beaten up and arrested by the police. There are numerous testimonies of women folk belonging to the Muslim community being beaten and verbally abused by male police officers. Although arrests have been made from both sides, a disproportionately  higher number of Muslims have been arrested and brutally assaulted by the police.  It is also alarming that advocates/social activists/families have been denied access to the detainees when they tried to meet them. To this end, when they approached the Mayur Vihar, police station, family members and advocates were not even allowed to enter the police station yesterday, i.e. 26 October 2014 or to meet the senior police officers in the police station.

It has also been reported in eyewitness accounts that womenfolk of the Muslim community are especially vulnerable at this point, and are feeling scared for their security and safety. This feeling of insecurity or apprehension of sexual violence is exacerbated in those blocks of Trilokpuri area where there are fewer Muslims houses.

We have also learnt form Hindu residents that some of them came to the aid of their Muslim neighbours. All of them are apprehensive that the situation may deteriorate in the absence of any non-partisan political or public leadership.

As Muharram is due on 4th November there is considerable anxiety among both the communities in the area.

In view of such a serious flare up of communal violence, and illegal actions of the police we request urgent intervention by this Hon’ble Commission for Minorities. We urge that the following steps be taken immediately:

1)   That the National Human Rights Commission visits the Trilokpuri area immediately to assess the emerging situation of communal violence, and start the process of reconciling the communities;
2)   The NHRC take steps to diffuse the communal violence;
3)   The NHRC direct the appropriate authority/police to immediately conduct medico-legal examination of all those arrested by a specially constituted panel of Doctors and the report be placed before the NHRC;
4)   To conduct an inquiry into the role and conduct of the local police of P.S. Kalyanpuri and P.S. Mayur Vihar Phase 1, in light of the serious allegations and complaints of indiscriminate arrests, physical torture, beatings, high handedness, abuse of power, overt discrimination and hostility towards the Muslim community.
5)   To review all the cases foisted upon the arrested persons to ensure that innocent bystanders and residents are not prosecuted;
6)   To direct the appropriate authorities to arrest the persons actually inciting and committing the communal violence.
7)   To initiate a process to compute the loss of property and earnings and award appropriate compensation to the affected families;

Signed by:
Vrinda Grover, advocate
Aslam Ahmed, advocate
Saurabh, NGO called Josh

No comments: