A vacation bench comprising Justices Vikram Nath and Ahsanuddin Amanullah expressed disinclination to entertain the petition saying that the petitioner can approach the High Court and approach the local authorities (police etc). The petition was filed by Association for Protection of Civil Rights. Uttarakhand’s Purola and several other towns have been gripped by targeted anti-Muslim communal tensions stoked by rightwing groups; petitioners represented by advocate Shahrukh Alam will now approach the Uttarakhand High Court
Advocate Sharukh Alam mentioned the petition seeking urgent listing as the ‘mahapanchayat'(conclave) is scheduled to be held tomorrow (June 15). She told the bench that an ultimatum has been given by certain groups to a particular community to leave the place before the ‘mahapanchayat’. She further pointed out that the Supreme Court had earlier issued a mandamus to the Uttarakhand Government to take steps to ensure that no hate speeches are made.
However, the bench asked the petitioner why they had not moved the High Court. “Law and order is for the administration to handle. You move the High Court. Why do you come here?” Justice Nath asked.
“Why do you express distrust in approaching HC? If there is a mandamus by this Court, High Court will pass orders. You should have some trust in the High Court.Why can’t you trust the administration?”, Justice Amanullah asked.
Shahrukh Alam explained that she has approached the Supreme Court in view of the earlier mandamus issued by it to th Uttarakhand Government in the hate speech matter. However, the bench said that the High Court can also pass appropriate orders if there is already a direction given by the Supreme Court.
Following that, the petitioner sought permission to withdraw the petition. The bench then proceeded to dismiss the petition as withdrawn, granting petitioner liberty to avail alternate remedies under the law.
Purola and several other towns in Uttarakhand have been plunged into a communal frenzy over the alleged kidnapping of a 14-year-old girl by two men – a Hindu and a Muslim– 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. These provocations have seen police being inactive and not preventing hate speech or even brazen attempts to stigmatise and socio-economically boycott the entire Muslim community. Over the following days, as reported by the Times of India on June 6, 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 from June 6 onwards, threatening them to vacate the premises before the Mahapanchayat on June 15 or face dire consequences.
Reports have also 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.