Rajasthan must end climate of impunity for hate crimes

By Amnesty International India
India: 21 December 2017 9:02 am

Rajasthan government’s failure to ensure justice in cases of suspected hate crimes against Muslims is enabling a climate of impunity in the state, Amnesty International India said today.

On 6 December, a gruesome video uploaded on the internet appeared to show a man in Rajsamand, Rajasthan, hacking to death and setting on fire Afrazul Khan, a Muslim migrant worker. The suspect is seen in the video saying that the attack was a warning to Muslims to not commit ‘love jihad’ – an alleged conspiracy by Muslim men to seduce Hindu women and convert them to Islam. The incident follows other attacks against Muslim people in Rajasthan this year, none of which have been brought to trial.

“There is a growing sense of insecurity among members of religious minorities in Rajasthan. When hate crimes appear to be committed with impunity, there is a weakening of the rule of law, which encourages more attacks,” said Likhita Banerji, Researcher and Campaigner, Amnesty International India.

“Registering criminal cases is important, but not enough. The Rajasthan Home Minister needs to step up efforts to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice in a timely manner.”

Two men have been arrested over the Rajsamand killing. The Director General of the Rajasthan Police remained unavailable for comment despite multiple calls from Amnesty International India.

At least four other suspected hate crimes against Muslims have been reported in Rajasthan in recent months. On 10 November in Alwar, Umar Mohammed, and two other men were shot at, allegedly by cow protection vigilantes, when they were transporting cows. Umar Khan was killed; his body was allegedly taken to a railway track by the attackers in a bid to destroy evidence. The police registered a case of murder and identified seven suspects, of whom two were arrested. No charges have been filed yet.

On 27 September in Dantal, Jaisalmer, Amad Khan, a Muslim folk singer, was allegedly killed by two dominant caste Hindu men, for “singing badly” at a Hindu festival. His brother told Amnesty International India that members of their community were first pressured by dominant caste groups to not file a police complaint. When they did, they were socially ostracised, and fled the village in fear. The police registered a case of murder and arrested two out of three suspects. The case has been transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department and no charges have been filed yet.

On 16 June, in Pratapgarh, 44-year-old Zafar Hussain died after allegedly being beaten by civic officials, after he objected to them photographing and taking videos of women defecating in the open, ostensibly for a sanitation campaign. An autopsy report said that Hussain had died of a cardiac failure, but his family and eyewitnesses maintain that he was beaten to death. The police registered a murder case against four municipal officials. No charges have been filed yet.

On 1 April, Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer, and four other Muslim men were assaulted by a mob near a highway in Alwar. Khan died two days later. The mob falsely accused the men of being cow smugglers. In September, the Rajasthan police cleared six suspects who Pehlu Khan had named as his attackers before he died. Seven people who were arrested have been released on bail. The trial in the case has not yet begun.

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