Pratapgarh lynching: I’m asked why Taliban is being created in India, says Aruna Roy

Zafar Hussein died after he was brutally beaten up by civic officials for protested against the clicking photographs of women defecating in the open.
Aruna Roy addresses villagers at the sit-in organised during the JAWABDEHI YATRA near State Assembly in Jaipur on June 19, 2017.(Himanshu Vyas/Hindustan Times)
Aruna Roy addresses villagers at the sit-in organised during the JAWABDEHI YATRA near State Assembly in Jaipur on June 19, 2017.(Himanshu Vyas/Hindustan Times)
Published on Jun 20, 2017 08:42 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Jaipur | By HT Correspondent

Noted social activist Aruna Roy, while addressing a protest meeting in Jaipur on Monday, said that people she meets on her foreign tours often ask her why a “Taliban is being created in India”. Her comments came in the wake of recent incidents of mob violence and vigilantism in the country.

The five-day sit-in, which began on Monday, has been organised by civil rights groups to protest against the alleged lynching of Zafar Hussein.

Hussein, who protested against civic officials clicking photographs of some women defecating in the open in Pratapgarh, died after he was brutally beaten up by civic officials. The officials were photographing the women as part of the naming and shaming policy under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

Roy said that India had shown the way of peace to the world and it was disturbing that it is now earning infamy over incidents of mob violence. “What Gandhi demonstrated in this country was followed by Martin Luther King Jr in the United States and Nelson Mandela in South Africa,” said Roy, the founder of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS).

Furthering the discourse, Kavita Srivastava of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said that Rajasthan was slowly becoming “lynchisthan” (lynching ground) and rule of the mob had taken over the state. The PUCL general secretary mentioned the lynching of Pehlu Khan by cow vigilantes in Alwar in April among a number of other incidents of mob violence in the state.

Srivastava also said that the most ‘shameful’ aspect was the registering of FIR against the victims. “It happened in the case of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri and Pehlu Khan, and the same script is unfolding in the case of Zafar Hussein,” said Srivastava.

The municipal commissioner, who is an accused in Zafar’s lynching along with three others, has filed a case against Zafar alleging that he had attacked the officials. He denied that his men had assaulted Zafar.

The post-mortem report of the victim said that Zafar died due to cardio-respiratory failure but his kin rejected the report, alleging that it had been manipulated. Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje termed Zafar’s death as “demise” on Twitter on Sunday.

“We are angry at the authorities trying to project it as a natural death. We demand the immediate suspension and arrest of the accused, a constitution of a high-level inquiry into the case, a compensation of Rs one crore for the victim’s family and the immediate construction of community and individual toilets in Hussein’s locality,” said Srivastava.

In addition, the activists said that photographing defecating women was a crime under section 354C (capturing image of a woman in a private act) of Indian Penal Code and demanded that the policy be stopped immediately.

The groups are also demanding accountability from the government, places for democratic protests in all cities close to district authorities, and protested against the mandatory linkage of Aadhaar with the public distribution system, mid-day meals and pensions of integrated child development services.

Aruna Roy also expressed her disapproval regarding the recent changes in the school textbooks of Rajasthan. “The way they are distorting history and changing the curriculum, no student from the state will get admission in foreign universities,” said Roy.

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