Deb Mukharji, a political analyst and a retired Indian diplomat, describes the horror that the Muslim community of Uttar Pradesh (UP) had to go through after the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), in the Telegraph (India) on Monday.
The Act passed by the Hindu Nationalist BJP government hinders citizenship being granted to the Muslims refugees from three neighbouring countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan –arriving in India before 2015.
Many state governments like Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra have shared their disagreement with the CAA, as well as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Register of Populations (NPR).
At least 28 people died during police crackdowns on the protesters for their rights to be a citizen of India.
Students of the Jamia Millia Islamia university, Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Aligarh Muslim University protested in solidarity with the masses and were received with police brutality.
Over 60 writ petitions by various parties, NGOs and also MPs have been filed in Supreme Court so far against the CAA.
The former High Commissioner to Bangladesh (1995-2000) narrates the poor fate of the hapless Muslims of UP, writing, "The attitude of the Uttar Pradesh police was perhaps best appreciated by the Bengal BJP president, who was happy that they shot protesters like dogs."
The diplomat, in his article titled "Extraordinary horrors inflicted on Muslims of UP," writes that a "people's tribunal" was held in Delhi on January 16, where the jury comprised former justices of the Supreme Court, a former chief justice of Delhi High Court, eminent academics and retired civil servants.
In the article, he described, "The jury was 'deeply worried and dismayed by the testimonies placed before it. It is convinced that the entire state machinery, led from the top, acted with grave prejudice and perpetrated violence targeting one particular community, the state's Muslim population, and the social activists leading the movement'".
He further writes that apart from the violence on the protesters, the police brutality included "the arrest of and filing of false cases against innocent people; the destruction of vehicles and property by entering people's homes, as well as CCTV cameras; threats to and intimidation of people picked up [for] speaking the truth about what happened; communalised abuses against victims; custody violence even on minors; firing and killing people without following the law; preventing medical personnel from treating the injured and threatening the injured against accessing medical care."
The former ambassador talks of injured protesters being denied treatment at the hospital as the hospital authorities "were apparently concerned about displeasing the government." This is a clear violation of Article 21 of Indian constitution.
There were also allegations that ambulances were not provided when necessary, although the Red Cross is honoured even in war. This type of human rights violation is a crime in the international court and UP would be brought to trial if it was an independent country.
The diplomat states, "The jury concluded: 'the state of affairs in UP shows a complete collapse of the rule of law. In fact, the very state administration that is charged with protecting the rule of law is perpetrating violence upon its own people.'"
Uttar Pradesh is considered a holy place, but with the police mercilessly beating the innocent Muslims, has today become the Heart of Darkness, Mukharji concludes.