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*Founder*: Jayaprakash Narayan; *Founding President: *V M Tarkunde

*President*: *Ms.* *Kavita Srivastava* (Rajasthan); *General Secretary*: *V
Suresh* (Tamilnadu);
E.mails:*<*pucl...@gmail.com <pucl...@yahoo.com>*>,
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13 June, 2023


The Hon’ble Chief Justice,

Uttarakhand High Court,

Nanital, UttaraKhand.

   1. We are writing this letter as People’s Union for Civil Liberties
   (PUCL) to bring to your attention the alarming rise of hate speech,
   vigilantism, and targeted communal violence against the minority Muslim
   community in Uttarakhand in the last few days.
   2. We are a civil liberties and human rights organisation formed in 1976
   by Sh. Jayaprakash Narayan, Acharya Kriplani, Krishna Kant and others.
   Justice V.M. Tarkunde, Justice Rajindar Sachar, Rajni Kothari, K.G.
   Kannabiran and other  legal luminaries. PUCL has been at the forefront of
   the defence of the freedom of speech and expression in its work ever since
   its inception. However, as per human rights standards both internationally
   as well as in the Indian Constitution, the freedom of speech and expression
   does not extend to the ‘advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes
   incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence’  as per Article 19 of
   the International Covenant  on Civil and Political Rights. Article 19 (2)
   envisages a restriction of the freedom of speech and expression on the
   ground of ‘incitement of an offence’. It is precisely this dangerous
   transgression of the limits of free speech which threatens the life,
   liberty and property of an entire constitutionally protected grouping, in
   Uttarakhand that we wish to bring to your kind attention.

   1. We submit this petition to draw your immediate attention to the
   alarming rise of hate speech, vigilantism, and targeted communal violence
   against the minority Muslim community in Uttarakhand and to request you to
   kindly direct the state government of Uttarakhand and the concerned
   authorities to take immediate measures to redress  violent hate campaign,
   incitement to violence, increased insecurity in the minority community
   which is resulting in many being coerced into leaving their homes.
   2. A multi-layered discriminatory public campaign led by certain groups
   such as Bajrang Dal, VHP for the last few months and continuing till date
   have been systematically targeting the Muslim community. During the course
   of these campaign they has used terms like "Vyapar Jihad" (Business Jihad),
   "Love Jihad," and "Land Jihad" to instigate fear and hatred among the
   majority  community which has created an atmosphere of violence and
   insecurity against the Muslims living in the region, causing an exodus
   3. The situation threatens to escalate by June 15, 2023 in Purola in the
   district Uttarkashi, where a ‘Mahapanchayat’ (a mega assembly) is being
   planned by several groups who have come under the leadership of Swami
   Darshan Bharti of Debhoomi Raksha Abhiyan. The Hindustan Times has reported
   that posters have been put up in Purola threatening  owners of Muslim owned
   shops to vacate before the Mahapanchayat. The link to the report can be
   found here -
   4. Papers like Amar Ujala  and Hindustan have reported that a letter has
   been sent by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to the Tehri District Magistrate
   giving an ultimatum to members of the Muslims Community to leave the
   Jaunpur valley and in particular the towns of Nainbagh, Jakhar, Nagtibba,
   Thatyur, Saklana, Damta, Purola, Barkot and Uttarkashi. The threat
   specifies that if Muslims don’t respond to their ultimatum of leaving the
   areas themselves, these organizations will organise a chakka jam in Tehri
   on 20.06.2023. The report of Hindustan, a Hindi newspaper detailing the
   contents of this letter can be found here - repor
   5. The campaigning has already led to the exodus of numerous Muslim
   families. It will also provoke an already volatile situation into systemic
   communal violence on a large scale, unless the state takes immediate and
   urgent proactive measures to stop both the hate campaigns as also to
   prevent violent attacks to take place.
   6. The campaign was based on an incident of alleged abduction of a Hindu
   minor girl in Purola by two accused (belonging to both Hindu and Muslim
   communities) and has been escalated as proof of ‘love jihad’. It should be
   noted that no governmental organisation or data has ever substantiated the
   existence of ‘love jihad’, or forcible conversions in the guise of
   fraudulent romantic relationships, but that the concept has been used to
   buttress hate-speech against Muslims across the country in recent times.
   The current situation in Uttarakhand is playing out similarly.
   7. The Devbhoomi Raksha Abhiyan is an organisation operating in the
   area, which issued posters demanding that Muslims in the area flee their
   residences on threat of violence. They were joined by local community
   leaders like Swami Darshan Bharti and Rakesh Uttarakhandi, who also called
   for the forced eviction of Muslims while making hate-speech against the
   community. Evidence of these speeches are available in videos currently
   seeing wide circulation, and are contributing to the deterioration of
   communal harmony in the area.
   8. Local press has also reported that homes and shops belonging to
   Muslims have been marked with an ‘X’, and long standing residents including
   a BJP Minority Cell Leader (Mohammed Zaid), have been forced to flee their
   homes due to the threat of violence.
   9. The threats were consolidated and escalated on May 29, when a rally
   organised by groups of the majority Hindu communities of the ruling BJP
   parties with the support of trade unions, turned violent, with mob violence
   against home and shops in the area. Reports suggest senior leaders of the
   ruling party have been involved with these rallies, with the District
   General Secretary of ruling party, Prakash Kumar Dabral, saying, “We will
   not let them do business here, will not let them open shops. Then they will
   leave on their own.”
   10. These demands go against the spirit of the Preamble which rests on
   the spirit of the fraternity. These consistent hate speeches attack the
   dignity of the individuals, threatens not only their livelihood but also
   their life based on their religious identity i.e. Muslims. It reduces the
   Muslim citizens to second class citizenship and creates both institutional
   and popular sentiment to view them as lesser than. As ground situation
   shows, it does not stop with seeing Muslims as lesser than but goes on to
   instigate targeted violence against them, their property and a series of
   their fundamental rights. The violent targeting of a religious group with
   the intent of removing them from a geography, holds alarming similarities
   to genocidal tactics.

   This is not an exaggeration, as the primary leaders of this campaign
   have also previously been involved in explicit calls for the mass-murder of
   Muslims, at speeches given at the Haridwar Dharma Sansad of 2022. The
   common leader between the Dharam Sansad of 2022 and the hate campaigns now
   is Swami Prabodhanand Giri Mahamandaleshwar who is a repeat offender.
   This court has critically intervened when it came to the hate speeches made
   in Dharam Sansad and directed the state to register FIRs against the
   accused. A brief profile of the antecedents of Swami Prabodhanand Giri
   Mahamandaleshwar can be found here
   11. This also follows from the incitement to genocide on April 20 2023,
   at a Dharma Sabha in Uttarakhand organised by the fundamentalist group, the
   Rudra Sena, where calls for an economic boycott of minorities & and a ban
   on the settlement of “non-Sanatanis” in the state were made.
   12. They declared that “peace cannot prevail in the world unless every
   ‘jihadi’ is eliminated.” The leader of the Rudra Sena, one Rakesh Tomar
   Uttarakhandi, has previously made speeches calling for the Van Gujjar
   community (a primarily Muslim tribal group) to evict the area on threat of
   13. Swami Darshan Bharti, mentioned above in paragraph 4 is leading the
   call for mass evictions. He was among those making hate speeches at the
   Dharma Sansad. His group, Uttarakhand Raksha Abhiyan, has previously
   circulated 1.5 lakh pamphlets inciting Hindus to stand up against alleged
   changes in the demography of Uttarakhand because of Muslims in 2019. He has
   been previously jailed after his hate-speech inspired physical attacks on

   1. Following are a few links corroborating the above facts:

a)    Post 1 by Swami Prabodhanand Giri Mahamandaleshwar

b)    Post 2 by Swami Prabodhanand Giri Mahamandaleshwar

c)    Post 3 by Swami Prabodhanand Giri Mahamandaleshwar

d)    Post 4 by Swami Prabodhanand Giri Mahamandaleshwar

e)    Post 5 by Swami Prabodhanand Giri Mahamandaleshwar

   1. All these speeches, posts, fall squarely within the understanding of
   hate speech that this very court has provided in Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan v
   Union of India. As the Supreme Court observed:

“7. Hate speech is an effort to marginalise individuals based on their
membership in a group. Using expression that exposes the group to hatred,
hate speech seeks to delegitimise group members in the eyes of the
majority, reducing their social standing and acceptance within society.
Hate speech, therefore, rises beyond causing distress to individual group
members. It can have a societal impact. Hate speech lays the groundwork for
later, broad attacks on vulnerable that can range from discrimination, to
ostracism, segregation, deportation, violence and, in the most extreme
cases, to genocide.” A copy of this judgement is annexed as Annexure – A.

The situation in Uttarakhand of fear amongst the Muslims, the exodus and
threat of violence are the visible harms of hate speech in action as noted
by this Supreme Court. More so, the reality presents alarming similarities
to the ground work before a genocide.

   1. In such a situation the state’s failure to take adequate action is
   notable given that this was brought to their attention in an open letter
   dated May 30, written by the Lawyers of the Supreme Court of India to the
   Governor of Uttarakhand. The letter also noted specifically the actions of
   the previously mentioned entities in relation to hate-speech and past
   communal violence.
   2. This is despite this honourable Supreme Court in W.P. No.940 of 2022
   directing the state of Uttarakhand vide its order dated 21.10.22 “to ensure
   that immediately as and when any speech or any action takes place which
   attracts offences such as section 153A, 153B and 295A and 505 of the IPC
   etc., suo motto action will be taken to register cases even if no complaint
   is forthcoming and proceed against the offenders in accordance with law.” A
   copy of this order is annexed as Annexure – B.
   3. It is important to note that the Hon’ble Supreme Court has been
   deeply concerned at the rise of hate speech and mob violence in the country
   and in Uttarakhand in particular. On 17.07.2018, in its judgement
in *Tehseen
   Poonawalla vs. Union of India and Ors.*, the Court directed all State
   governments to proactively act against hate speech and mob violence. A copy
   of this judgement is annexed as Annexure – C.

   1. Further, as per the Court’s 21.10.2022 order in *Shaheen Abdullah vs.
   Union of India *(WP(C) 940/2022), the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal
   Pradesh and Delhi were specifically directed to "ensure that immediately as
   and when any speech or any action takes place which attracts offences such
   as Sections 153A, 153B and 295A and 505 of the IPC etc., suo moto action
   will be taken to register cases even if no complaint is forthcoming and
   proceed against the offenders in accordance with law,”. Despite this till
   date no FIR’s have been registered by the police.

Given the grave threat to the lives and property of minorities and the
dereliction of constitutional duty of the State, in Uttarakhand we urge the
Hon’ble Supreme Court:

   1. Urgently intervene by directing the Chief Secretary, Government of
   Uttarakhand and the Director General of Police to personally ensure that
   the Mahapanchayat scheduled to take place at Purola on 15.06.2023 and the
   rally and chakka jam programme on Tehri on 20.06.2023 are denied
   permissions based on the harm caused by the continuing hate campaigns to
   the constitutional fabric of the State.
   2. The Chief Secretary and DGP, Uttarakhand should be held accountable
   for the dereliction of their constitutional duty to protect all citizens
   and ensure law and order in the State.
   3. To direct the concerned authorities to immediately register FIR’s
   under the relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 against Swami
   Prabodhanand Giri Mahamandaleshwar, Swami Darshan Bharti, Rakesh
   Uttarakhandi and Prakash Kumar Dabral, amongst others who threatening the
   right to life, livelihood and residence of Muslim population in the State
   of Uttarakhand.
   4. To ensure initiation of a thorough investigation regarding the role
   of organisations such as Rudra Sena, Devbhoomi Raksha Abhiyan, Vishwa Hindu
   Parishad, Bajrang Dal among others, into the incidents of hate speech,
   vigilantism, and violence targeting the minority community in Uttarakhand
   taking place in an unabated manner with the full and tacit support of the
   state administration and police.
   5. Ensure the implementation of Supreme Court orders regarding hate
   speech and mob violence, including the appointment of nodal officers to
   eradicate hostile environments against targeted communities as spelt out by
   this court in Tehseen Poonawala case and Shaheen Abdulla cases.
   6. Provision of adequate protection to the minority community and
   individuals, both in their residence as also in their shops and business
   areas, who are at risk due to the ongoing campaign of hatred.
   7. Issuance of clear directives to the state government and law
   enforcement agencies to maintain law and order, protect minority rights,
   and prevent any further incidents of violence.

We firmly believe that the judiciary, as the guardian of justice and
protector of citizens' rights, has the power and responsibility to uphold
the constitutional values of equality, secularism, and social harmony. By
addressing this petition, your Lordship would not only ensure justice for
the affected communities but also uphold the principles of our democratic

We earnestly request your urgent attention to this matter.


Kavita Srivastava, President

V. Suresh, General Secretary

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