Misuse of National Security Act has become a nightmare for the Muslims in Muzaffarnagar

National Security Act is used in very serious and sensitive cases but in Muzaffarnagar it has become very common especially against Muslims and Dalits. A ground report

NH Photo by Aas Mohd Kaif
NH Photo by Aas Mohd Kaif

Aas Mohd Kaif

Haji Sher (56) is a well-known person in the Khalapar Mohalla of Muzaffarnagar. He has a shoe shop on the busiest square Shiv Chowk of the area. He is very well respected in the town. On June 27, last year, on the complaint that illegal slaughter of animals was being carried out in the Kassavan street, the police took immediate action which caused a furor among the residence of the area. After that, the local police decided to send Haji Sher to pacify. Here a group of angry people had created quite a ruckus and attacked the police vehicle too.

After this, cases under various sections of the IPC were filed against the people who created the ruckus. The police filed a case under National Security Act (NSA) against Haji Sher and his son Imran also.

Haji Sher says, “This is the result of my speaking in favour of the police. Some leaders of the BJP were unhappy with me and the people of this area listened to me. So, it was done to humiliate me and create fear in the people. Later, we went to the court where National Security act was suspended but I had to stay in jail for more than 6 months. After coming out of the jail, I met the concerned officers and asked them why they did that. But they kept quiet and could not answer.”

After the unrest in June last year in Muzaffarnagar, NSA was imposed on 9 people. Haji Sher and his son were among those people. Even after more than a year this area is engulfed in panic and fear. Many shops are still closed. Some families have left this area. Local people say that the police took a strict action on innocent people. Sixty-years-old Mohammad Islam who was ailing at that time was put in a lock up. When his condition worsened, he was released. Maan (58), who earns his living as a street vendor was also one of those people who were arrested under NSA. The local social worker Dilshad Pehalwan says, “This is perhaps the only case where 9 persons of the same locality were arrested under the NSA, the government is suppressing people by using unfair and illegal means.”

Maan says that in this process he was compelled by circumstances to take loans, his children have also started working as labourers. Their only fault is that they have their house in this area.

The important thing is that the main accused of the incident, who was accused of attacking the police vehicle, 'Kala' is now absconding.

A local resident, Asif Rahi tells us that the action under NSA is very serious, but in Muzaffarnagar it has become common, especially against a particular community.

A day before Barid, some boys playing cricket in Purbaliyan village of Mansoorpur police station area of Muzaffarnagar district had a minor fight. Because there is no fixed line for the fours and sixes in cricket in a village playground, there is often a misunderstanding over scores and so, the game was cancelled but some boys from both the teams started fighting with each other. This was a common occurrence, it keeps happening in the villages. After this argument and a fight, all the players returned to their homes. Most of these players were minor. When their family members came to know about it, they scolded the kids and instructed them to stay away from such conflict. But one group of these careless children beat a servant of the other group. The people from other group subsequently went to these children’s houses and shouted at the families showering abuses on them.

According to Arif Sheeshmahali, a lawyer from Muzaffarnagar who is an expert in criminal cases, this was a childish incident. Such kind of things keep happening and in 80% of the cases, the adult family members do not even come to know about it. In only 1% of the cases a report is registered.

But in such a common incident, 26 persons were arrested, most of whom remained in prison for more than a month. Among them were those children also who were playing cricket at that time. NSA was imposed on the 65-years-old Shamsher Ali and three more people. The Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) is still deployed in the village.

A person detained under NSA is kept in jail for 12 months, although an Advisory board in the High Court hears the case. Simply put, this board can revert this decision but in fact, it is not so.

National Security Act is used in very serious and sensitive cases. These are the cases in which ‘no lawyer and no plea or appeal’ is considered. A common man is usually scared of this law. But in Purbalian, three persons are still locked up in prison in this case where no one was injured even slightly, about two dozens are out on bail and all these people are Muslims.

The women of the area also have strong opinions about it. 75-years-old Haseena tells National Herald, “ They are trying to set the Muslims right on the pretext of a fight that did not actually take place.” She rejects the police's version that there is communal tension here. “I will go to the house of any Hindu living here and he will call me mother and respectfully offer me food. We would have lived in peace had these leaders and the police not been there.” She adds.

Her son was also detained under NSA. With tears in her eyes, she says, “People say they are teaching us a lesson for being a Muslim. This is what the government thinks. Is this what the government thinks? What is this NSA,” She asks innocently.

In January 2018, the Uttar Pradesh government had revealed that it has detained 160 people under NSA. Obviously this number has increased now. According to Rajiv Yadav of Rihai Manch, this number is now more than 200 and unfortunately most of the people arrested under NSA are either Dalits or Muslims.

The arrest of Bhim Army Supremo Chandrashekhar under NSA was discussed a lot. NSA was imposed on the three persons arrested on the charges of Kanchan Gupta’s murder in Kasganj. As in the case of Chandrashekhar, the NSA was imposed on them also just before they were about to be released on bail.

A person detained under NSA is kept in jail for 12 months, although an Advisory board in the High Court hears the case. Simply put, this board can revert this decision but in fact, it is not so.

Former MP and a Congress leader Harendra Malik says, “This is a part of the government’s suppressing policy. The keepers of the law are dancing on the tunes of BJP leaders. The BJP leaders are openly thrashing the police officials. But they are not detained under the National Security Act. The Dalits, Muslims and backwards are being trapped in fake cases, there is a blatant misuse of the government machinery. This one sided action on the basis of caste and religion should be condemned clearly and sternly.”

But the Uttar Pradesh ADG Anand Kumar refutes that NSA is being used on the basis of caste and religion. He says, “The police works impartially. It doesn’t take any action on the basis of caste or religion. NSA has been imposed against the criminals who have been obstructing the functioning of law and order. This cannot be called a one-sided action.”

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