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Mainstream, VOL LII No 50, December 6, 2014

To Hoodwink and Much More

Sunday 7 December 2014, by Humra Quraishi

MUSINGS

Lately this particular news report has hit: 53 per cent of the prison population in India is that of Muslims, Dalits and tribals. Shocking! For two reasons—for one, these three communities are the most disadvantaged and stand deprived on every possible front. And then, these high numbers of the imprisoned Muslims and Dalits and tribals do not stand proportionate with their population— the population of the Muslims and Dalits and tribals is 39 per cent in the country, whilst those imprisoned from these three communities are 53 per cent of the total prison population.

Why are more from the disadvantaged and minority communities getting imprisoned in India? Is it because of the reality of the day—it is easy throw charges on the disadvantaged and with that more than easy to dump them into hell-holes? Is it because the undertrials do not have the resources to hire lawyers and fight their cases? Is it because of the bias and tilts in the police machinery? Is it because of weak leadership and lack of the community leaders who could help out with their bail procedures? Is it because of the rot in the very system where the poor gets implicated even in petty crimes? Is it because of the systematic ruthlessness creeping in where children stealing even a half-baked bread are jailed whilst the rape and murder accused are found sitting on ministerial chairs? Is it because of the general perception together with the political climate that it is easy to throw terror charges on Muslims, Dalits and tribals? Is it because of sheer poverty and deprivation that those from these vulnerable groups are taking to crime?

In fact, whilst on prisons and prisoners stuffed in them, it is important to know details of the prisoners in the so-called conflict zones of the country. Also, what are the facts vis-a-vis the fate of the thousands of undertrials—technically innocent yet sitting imprisoned, languishing for years.

And as the political situation stands, with Rightwing Fascists ruling and trying to creep-cum-crawl further, I don’t see any hope or change in the coming months or years. In fact, the situation could only worsen. For these political creatures are inching their way under all possible camouflages. In fact, last week their advertisements kept distracting, inserted amidst Pakistani serials on the Zindagi channel. Perhaps, those serials on that channel are popular in the Kashmir Valley and so another of those ways to try and inch inwards, into the Valley.

No, none of those advertisements showed the BJP’s Rajnath Singh shopping for latest arms and ammunition in Israel! Perhaps, this news wouldn’t have been suitable for their political moves in the Valley! No, none of their advertisements showed BJP’s Uma Bharti hugging-cum-clasping Murli Mahor Joshi and L.K. Advani when the Babri Masjid was getting destroyed! No, none of their advertisements showed any of the BJP men or women caught on camera in the midst of rioting in Gujarat or in Muzaffarnagar or in other riot-hit locales of the country!

The list is long... They can go to any extent to suitably camouflage. In fact, to quote the Gujarat cadre’s former DGP, R.B. Sreekumar, “that even in some of the RSS-BJP meets, they use Muslim symbols—burqas, veils, skull caps”. To hoodwink and much more.