The Tripura government has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in response to the plea by Advocate Ehtesham Hashmi, who contended that he had personally visited riot-affected areas of the state, along with other Delhi-based Advocates and published a fact-finding report about the visit.
Tripura government said the petition seeking intervention in hate crimes that allegedly took place in October in Tripura, was “selective” in nature since the petitioner was silent, when a “larger scale communal violence” occurred in West Bengal in May, 2021 after the West Bengal Assembly elections.
In its affidavit filed before the apex court, the Tripura government said that a series of violent incidents had shook West Bengal before and after the State assembly elections, which was “larger in magnitude” compared to Tripura violence, but the public interest of the petitioner was aroused only selectively during the latter.
“No individuals or group of individuals professionally functioning as public-spirited persons can selectively invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of this court to achieve some apparent, but undisclosed motive,” the affidavit said.
The affidavit was filed in response to the plea by Advocate Ehtesham Hashmi, who contended that he had personally visited riot-affected areas of the state, along with other Delhi-based Advocates and published a fact-finding report about the visit.
The following findings were inter alia published in the report:
a) 12 Mosques were damaged;
b) 9 shops owned by Muslim businessmen were damaged;
c) 3 houses owned by Muslims were vandalised.
The above findings were arrived at by the petitioner after meeting with families and persons who were at the receiving end of the vandalism, the plea said.
However, Hashmi said in his petition that instead of taking action against the miscreants and rioters, police took action against those, who spoke against the same.
It was also submitted that two of the Delhi Advocates, who were part of a fact-finding team, were sent notices under Section 41A of the Criminal Procedure Code, alleging that their social media posts promoted enmity between communities.
Further, it was also put to the Bench that police had invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against 102 persons, including journalists, for reporting and writing on violence.
The state government has rebutted Hashmi’s petition, contending that allegations against the state started with planted and pre-planned articles in tabloids.
“Planted and pre-planned articles started emerging in few tabloids, which becomes the basis of such a PIL subsequently or the so-called public spirited persons send their own teams to generate a self-serving report. Such reports, so generated, thereafter becomes the cause of action, as well as material based upon which the petitions are filed,” the state affidavit said.
It further alleged that the fact-finding report was based on incorrect facts, aimed towards creating disaffection between communities and the state in particular.
The state also pointed out that a suo motu case concerning the same subject was already pending before the Tripura High Court and that the petitioner should have approached the High Court first, instead of moving the Supreme Court.