India Insight

Guilty until proven innocent? It doesn’t end there for some

Derided by the media and under pressure to show results following the series of terror attacks in the country, the security establishment recently announced a number of arrests relating to the explosions in Ahmedabad and Bangalore and the earlier ones in Jaipur.

While it is praiseworthy that the police acted comparatively quickly this time in tracing the culprits, it later turned out that some of those arrested, whose names the media had readily released, had no involvement in the dastardly acts.

blastBut the damage had already been done, as a ‘suspect’ told a newspaper after his release: “I will have to live with a ‘terrorist’ tag for the rest of my life.” Anwar Hussein, a doctor, said his family now faces abuses from neighbours and customers are avoiding his family’s business of iron work in his native village.

Rashid Hussain, an IT professional, said he was sacked by his employers following his arrest, even though he was released after eight days in detention.

Muslim organizations and rights groups have cried foul over the arrests, complaining that the detentions were ‘illegal’ and a violation of human rights. Indian law requires detainees to be provided a legal counsel and brought before a magistrate within 24 hours, which did not happen in this case, like many others before.

Independence Day – View from the other side of the coin

As the country watched in horror after terrorists exploded bombs in Ahmedabad and Bangalore ahead of Independence Day last month, a small village in far north-eastern Manipur had just finished a symbolic ritual in its efforts to end its grief over a crime purportedly unleashed by state actors.

Friends, families and human rights groups observed the last rites of 24-year-old Thangjam Manorama Devi, four years after she was allegedly raped and killed by personnel of the Assam Rifles paramilitary force. By performing the rites, they broke a pledge not to conduct the ceremony until their demands for punishment of the guilty and the repeal of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from the state were fulfilled.

flag.jpgLike the Manorama Devi episode, excesses by security forces (I won’t add the word “alleged” because I have personally experienced it, being kicked, punched and shoved in the face with the nozzle of an SLR rifle while walking back home one night after attending church service), coupled with a sense of government neglect continues to alienate citizens of less-developed areas like the northeast and Naxal-dominated regions of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa.