Shazia Shaikh for BeyondHeadlines
There have been several cases in which Muslims have been directly convicted by the investigative agencies with their own pompous presumption without even a proper trial and wrongfully detained former over the years and their family has been left over to face grave consequences in the society. It is highly evident that after every blast, state agencies targeted Muslim locality and arbitrary arrested Muslim youth for the false charges. We have already seen the case of Malegon accused who have been fallaciously held for Malegaon blast.
Similarly, Imam Yahya is also a victim of this state’s prejudicial assumption who had been wrongly convicted for the serial blast in Mumbai in 2003 and has been vindicated of this allegation now. These were the cases of wrongful detention of innocent Muslims due to the institutional bias. Furthermore, there are also certain serious cases where Muslims have been gunned down by state agency in the custody during the course of investigation for instance; Khwaja Yunus who was murdered by police officers during the custody and recently Bombay High court has given judgment asking the state government to give compensation to his family and order the trial of officers who have killed him in custody. Similarly, Gujrat High court in the recent judgment declared that the Ishrat Jahan’s encounter was forged one as she was killed prior to incident, and also called for CBI to investigate the case against the police officers doubting the integrity of Gujrat police over the impartial probing of the case. Therefore, the judgment vindicates the deceased a young Muslim college girl from Mumbai who had been alleged to be part of the operation of Laskhar-e-Toiba by Gujrat police. This judgment has also provided huge assuage to her family and relieve them of the pain-sticking stigma.
Hence, it has been proved that Muslims have been falsely implicated on the terror charges on the perceived suspicion and which totally denigrates their lives and liberty to live with dignity causing serious damage by branding them as terrorist. It is also painful fact that our democracy has failed to inherit the importance of basic human rights our institution has conveniently neglects this. This is the reason due to which they are highly insensitive over their grave mistake for falsely charging the innocent and ruining their lives and in contrast to Australia, where Mohammad Hanif who was not only vindicated immediately with full honor but also Australian government paid him compensation over 8 crore for his wrongful implication of terrorism. This regards for human rights is clearly evident in some of the liberal democracies and which has been seriously missing in India. Therefore, to achieve a real democracy our institution should be equipped with total sensitivity and skills to ensure and to make feasible basic human rights and any violations of human rights should be counter with speedy legal course. Therefore, though the seven acquitted of Malegaon have been released on the bail but the justice has not yet been done. They should be fully vindicated of this charge and those officers who have been falsely charged them should be given due punishment so as to dissuade wrongful detention of innocent Muslims and also to stop the existing practice of targeting them and state should give them due compensation for the terror spot implicated on them and for violating their human rights. Andhra Pradesh Government has also established precedent in this direction by entrusting to give 70 lacs compensation to the 70 Muslims who had been falsely implicated for Mecca Masjid blast and also to issue character certificates to them to rebuild their bereaved personality. Therefore, this action of the state government aims at rehabilitation of Muslim youths wrongly detained over terror charges. However, nor the amount of compensation is sufficient enough neither the government decided to punish culprit officers. In addition to this, government must also provide jobs to them under the process of their rehabilitation. Though this initiative of Andhra Pradesh government is appreciated but this just seems to baby step in this direction and must encompass feasible undertaking to restore immense damage meted out to innocent.
Media which is the fourth pillar of democracy is also held responsible for building the stereotype against Muslims. The preconceived notion that only Muslims could be the real culprit or the western Media’s popular belief that All Muslims are not Terrorist but All Terrorist are Muslims has widely shaped public opinion. The biased attitude of mainstream Media against Muslims is also attributed to the strong influence of right-wing forces. In fact, Justice Katju, Chairman of Press Council of India, has reprimanded Media against their prejudicial approach towards Muslims by stating “whenever a bomb blast takes place, in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, within a few hours almost every channel starts showing that an e-mail has come or a SMS has come that Indian Mujahideen have claimed responsibility or Jaish-e-Mohammad or Harkat-ul-Jihad, some Muslim name. You see, e-mail or SMS any mischievous person can send, but by showing it on the TV channels and next day in print, you are in a subtle way conveying the message that all Muslims are terrorists.” This statement from the Chairman of PCI itself strongly substantiates that there is strong Media biased towards Muslims which has stigmatize the image of Muslims. Therefore, media should come out of their anti-minority attitude and accommodate plural values so as to fairly represent the entire society and give away misguiding and wrongly shaping public opinion.
Lastly, there is a dire need that the entire structure of the Indian institution including the very important ones such as legislature, executive, judiciary, police and investigation agencies and also media should not espouse bigotry approach towards minority not even at micro level. In fact, they should champion the cause of minority rights and human rights and any violation of this should be taken very seriously by this state’s institution by providing the victims quick legal and constitutional remedies and serious implementation of this. While dealing with the cases of terrorism, investigative agencies should not target and victimized Muslims the draconian laws such as TADA, POTA and MACOCA etc. grants excessive power to the former which most often damage human rights of the latter which has been guaranteed in the fundamental rights of Indian constitution. Hence, the state’s institution should halt implicating Muslims with their entrenched bias, stigmatizing their image as terrorist and jeopardizing their right to life, liberty, dignity and other human rights. Nevertheless, we are severely facing the problem of terrorism the increasing terrorist attack in the country has also enhanced the human damages and the ratio of bereaved families. Therefore, if the state institution genuinely wants to solve the problem of terrorism and to find out the real culprits then they must adopt wide approach and must pursue the fair and impartial investigation to fight against menace of terrorism rather than following established bias which would continue to enlarge the sustenance of terrorism within our country.
(Shazia Shaikh is an Assistant Professor at Ismail Yusuf College and works keenly on social issues. She is the author of a famous and recently published book “A Critical Analysis of Fatwas Issued on Muslim Women in India”. Her email id is firstname.lastname@example.org)
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect BH’s editorial policy.