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Tripura violence: Supreme Court issues notice in plea seeking independent SIT probe, action against guilty officers

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The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice in a plea seeking an SIT probe into the hate crimes against Muslims that took place between October 13 to October 27, 2021, in Tripura.

The bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice A.S. Bopanna admitted the PIL against hate crimes that were perpetrated by organized mobs and included damage to mosques, burning of business establishments owned by Muslims, organizing rallies shouting Islamophobic & genocidal hate slogans, and delivering hate speeches targeting Muslims in various parts of Tripura.

The petition stated that despite the gravity and sheer magnitude of the incidents, no concrete steps have been taken by the government against the miscreants and rioters and no arrests have been made of persons who were responsible for desecrating mosques or vandalizing shops, and delivering hate speeches targeting Muslims.

It is further submitted that the state government is blatantly abusing its position and acting in the most unreasonable & arbitrary manner,

·         The police and state authorities instead of attempting to stop the violence kept on claiming that there was no communal tension anywhere in Tripura and further denied reports of any mosque being set ablaze.

·         The West Agartala Police Station has sent a notice u/s 41 A of the Criminal Procedure Code to two advocates who had accompanied the petitioner (Advocate Ehtesham Hashmi) to conduct a fact-finding exercise and documents of the incidents of violence, imputing that it was their social media posts, statements and report which were responsible for 

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“Promoting enmity between religious groups as well as provoking people of different religious communities to commit a breach of peace.

·         The police had also invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against 102 people, including journalists, for reporting and writing on the recent communal violence in the state.

The petition sought an independent SIT and to ensure “that an independent, credible and impartial investigation is conducted into the incidents of violence against the Muslim community” evidenced by the fact-finding report titled “humanity Under Attack in “Tripural #MuslimLivesMatter” dated November 2, 2021. The petition further sought direction for Central and state governments to comply with the guidelines laid down by the apex court in Tehseen Poonawalla v. Union of India.

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The petition further sought appropriate action against the guilty police officers and/or officers of the district administration not limited to departmental action for their misconduct.

The petition stated petitioner Ehtesham Hashmi in his capacity of an advocate had personally visited the places where the hate crimes were committed to publishing a fact-finding report. The said report was published on November 2, 2021 by the petitioner and three other lawyers stating that 12 mosques were damaged, 9 shops owned by Muslim businessmen were damaged and 3 houses owned by Muslims were vandalized and the petitioner reached this conclusion after meeting the families and persons who were at the receiving end of the vandalism.

The matter is now listed for December 13.

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