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Union home ministry directed to issue advisories to ensure Kashmiris, minority community members across the country are not harassed

The Supreme Court, on Friday (February 22) issued a slew of directives to the Centre and state governments to ensure that Kashmiri people and members of the minority community are not harassed, intimidated or attacked in wake of the communal hate campaign orchestrated against them in the aftermath of the recent terror attack in Pulwama, J&K, which claimed lives of over 40 Army and CRPF personnel.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that in wake of the hate campaign against Kashmiri students, the Supreme Court must issue an order similar to its directives, issued last year, for crackdown against lynch mobs.

Attorney General KK Venugopal informed the court that the Centre had already appointed nodal officers to deal with complaints of harassment and violence against Kashmiris and that their contact numbers were being circulated widely so that grievances can be conveyed to these officers round the clock.

The States of Punjab and Maharashtra, where stray incidents of such acts intimidation against the Kashmiri people and Muslim community have been reported, have also been issued notice by the court with directives that their respective chief secretaries be impleaded in the case as respondents. Notices have also been issued to the Centre and eight other State governments

The court has said that the nodal officers must take all necessary steps to prevent violence against the Kashmiris and members of the minority communities and that the Union home ministry must widely publicize the court’s orders. The bench also directed the Union home ministry to ensure that all acts of violence and intimidation are brought under control and advisories for the purpose are issued from time to time.

Police chiefs of all States and Union Territories and the Delhi police commissioner have also been directed to take prompt action to prevent any incident of violence.

The court will hear the petition further next Friday.

Soon after the Pulwama terror attack on February 14, many Hindu right-wing groups had begun a hate campaign against Kashmiri people, especially students, in different parts of the country. Right-wing organizations in Dehradun had demanded that Kashmiri students across Uttarakhand should be sent back to Kashmir. The BJP-led central government is yet to take a firm public stand against such hatemongers, Meghalaya governor Tathagata Roy, known for his hard-line anti-Muslim rhetoric too had supported calls for a complete boycott of Kashmir, going to the extent of stating that he agreed with the view that Hindus from across the country should boycott the famous Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage for a period of two years and that Indians should stop buying Kashmiri products.

—India Legal Bureau

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