The Rising Intimidation of India’s Muslims & The Criminalisation of Eating, Praying, Loving & Doing Business (Article-14)

14 criminal provisions were commonly invoked and at least five Constitutional provisions ignored in the criminalisation of daily life of Muslims—doing business, praying, eating meat, loving, even drinking water—according to our analysis of 10 recent cases. The criminal procedures so used include threats to public order, unlawful assembly, outraging religious feelings, promoting enmity, national security and even terrorism.

RWA members protest against Namaz in Sector-47, Gurgaon, in October 2021/ALTAF AHMAD

New Delhi: Almost every day, the media cite accounts (hereherehere and here) of criminal cases being filed against Muslims for no evident criminality or calls being made for economic boycotts against them: From ‘Corona Jihad’, ‘Love jihad’, ‘Economic jihad’, to ‘UPSC jihad’ and ‘Land jihad’.

Blame is increasingly cast upon an entire community, rendering them both victims and supposed victimisers. Indian Muslims now find themselves implicated in criminal cases for engaging in events as ordinary as praying, eating, running a business or even falling in love.

The most recent data provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report of 2021 reveal the effects of Muslims being singled out for special attention. More than 30% of detenues in Indian prisons were Muslim, even though they were 14.2% of the population (as per Census 2011).

As on 21 December 2021, all 41 detenues lodged in Haryana’s jails were Muslim, as were 78.5% of detenues in West Bengal (Muslim population: 30.9%) and 56.7% in Uttar Pradesh or UP (Muslim population: 19%). In Assam, where 34% of the population is Muslim, 64% of convicts and 49% of undertrials were Muslim.

Our analysis of recent events that led to criminal cases against Muslims revealed growing bias and prejudice in the State’s approach to India’s largest minority, often making ordinary events of daily life appear like a threat to public order, in some cases, to national security and even terrorism.

As the bias grows, swathes of civil society, the media, law-enforcement agencies and the judiciary appear to normalise prejudice, increasingly disregarding procedures required under Indian law and India’s Constitution.

Some of the laws being disproportionately used against Muslims, our analysis found, are sections 295-A (deliberate act intended to outrage religious feelings of any community), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on the basis of religion), 505(2) (statements conducing to public mischief), 143 (unlawful assembly), 124-A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, and section 151 (arrest to prevent commission of a crime) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Anti-terror laws such as Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 and National Security Act, 1980, are often (here and here) invoked against members of India’s largest minority, with little to no possibilty for bail.

Of these, the two most commonly used IPC sections were 295-A and 153-A. Indeed, these provisions, which in the 1960s, a fractious time, were widened to secure India’s unity, as Article 14 reported in January 2022, are now used to quell discordant speech to secure order rather than unity.

Fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution—such as the right to equality before law or the equal protection of laws under Article 14, right to life (which includes the right to live with dignity, right to privacy, right to food among others) under Article 21, right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a), right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business under Article 19(1)(g), and the right to freely profess, practice and propagate any religion under Article 25(1)—are being ignored.

This story was originally published in . Read the full story here

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