Human Rights Watch India

What India Hasn’t Learnt From Past Massacres

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Along with bloodshed, mass killing and destruction, there is something more common in all carnages in India. That is- failure to learn from the past mistakes.

Take a look at some of the biggest carnages in the 4 corners of India and what we could have learned from our past mistakes, but of course, we just didn’t.

Although it has been 16 years since Gujarat riots took place, the courtrooms, till date has cases and files related to the riots catching dust. As per a report by the Human Right Watch, at least 2000 cases have been dismissed due to lack of evidence. All thanks to the Supreme Court appointed SIT (Special Investigation Team) appointed.

Despite many clues linking to the main accusers, the SIT chose not to investigate them, which could have punished the guilty. The SIT did not prove to be independent enough and seemed to believe into any theory advanced by the bias Gujarat police. For example, despite many messages were exchanged between the police officers while the offense was taking place, the SIT did find it important to recover or trace these. Further, the SIT has been able to find NO evidence against any of the 58 persons accused in the case filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was among those killed in the Gulburg society carnage.

This was just one case of bias and faulty investigation. The same mistakes are clearly reflected in riots which continue to take place today as the guilty continue to get away with it. For instance, in 2006 in Gujarat during the Dargah riots, all the accused were acquitted due to lack of substantial proof against them.  And again in 2013, during the Muzaffarnagar riots, the SIT gave clean chit to Sangeet Som, who was accused of spreading disharmony among communities, after no evidence was found against him

The Nellie massacre has its roots in the violent ethnic clashes between the Assamese and the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, mostly Muslims. Majority of these immigrants were imported as laborers for the tea plantation during the British rule. Fear of being outnumbered in their own land, spearheaded the demand of expulsion of all illegal immigrants from Assam.

Due to the government’s inefficiency in dealing with the illegal immigration, today, there are 6000 immigrants entering Assam daily basis. Time and again, the government has tried to address this issue by pasting different laws and policies, but with no impact. For instance, the Illegal Migrant Determination tribunal was set up by the Indian government to recognize the illegal immigrants. But it did not work as expected. The tribunal could identify only 10,000 and deported a mere 1400 immigrants. Hence, it was scrapped off in 2005.

India has made attempts to seal borders with Bangladesh, but as the border is riverine, it only makes the situation worst. Further, lack of adequate infrastructure and repeated withdrawal of forces employed from the border, makes it difficult to patrol the border. Also, this issue is often politicized by the parties to suit their vote bank politics.

Due to such loopholes in the implementation of the strong border laws, violence is triggered again and again between the 2 communities with no side actually winning the battle.

In 1968, 44 Dalits were locked in a hut and were left there to be burned alive. This atrocity is cited to be have undertaken by the upper-class landlords in response to the latter’s demand for rise in wage. It has been 48 years since this carnage, and the condition of the Dalits in the state are unfortunately the same. After Periyar E. V. Ramasamy, social activist for Dalits and a politician, the Dravidian parties completely ignored the issue of caste discrimination and have constantly failed to address the untouchability factor. When DMK came to power in 1967, most of the party members were landlords, who completely suppressed this issue.

Hence, the government’s support for the Dalits in Tamil Nadu is pretty limited to just set up judicial inquiry committees to investigate the violations against Dalits. In fact, Tamil Nadu has a maximum number of such commissions to investigate the crime against Dalits. But however, these committees and commissions in most case are headed by retired judges who are from upper classes, so the bias is inevitable. And there is very hardly any room for Dalit members.

Further, seldom this investigation or reports compiled are presented in the Legislative Assembly for them to be implemented. In contrast states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh despite having fewer commissions, are able to identify the culprits, make recommendations and is widely discussed in the Legislative Assembly. The prevalent caste factor, lack of political will and police showing a blind eye to the atrocities have made Tamil Nadu the leading state in crime against Dalits.

The year 1990, saw one of the biggest exoduses in which the Kashmir Pandits, the minorities in J&K, fled the valley to protect themselves from the persecution of the Islamic militants. To achieve their ‘Azaadi’ goal, the Islamic terrorist threatened the Pandits to leave the valley by resorting to guns, burning houses, murders, rapes and genocide.  This can be called as ethnic cleansing. The result of this, the Pandits, till date, are on an exile and living as refugees in their own countries and being tortured and killed.

The Indian government has indeed failed the Kashmir Pandits and has not taken any measures to bring them back. The then governor, Jagmohan, in fact, stated that his government would not be able to guarantee the safety if the Pandits stayed back. This clearly reflects the callous and indifferent attitude of the government to prevent the Pandits from migrating.

Various Kashmir Pandit groups like All India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS), Kashmiri Pandit Conference (KPC) Kashmir Samiti Delhi and Kashmiri Displaced United Council (KDUC) have blamed the State and Central government for their failure in mitigating the human right violation of the displaced Pandits since the past 20 years. Shunning the much talked about PM’s package of providing 6000 jobs, these groups say that in reality only a few hundreds were actually appointed. Rather, the government should pay them compensation for the losses of property they suffered in the turmoil.

Today, this homeless community has been reduced to victims of false promises, bureaucracy and corruption. Not just the government, the judiciary too, has denied them justice. In a 2017 ruling, the SC rejected the plea of a Kashmiri Pandit group of fresh investigation into the 1990 massacre stating that the crime took place 27 years ago and it’s unlikely that any evidence or fruitful purpose would emerge.

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