Four days after Ballabgarh, National Commission for Minorities frozen in inaction
Muslims are being lynched in India on almost a daily basis, each incident striking fear in hearts across the country, but the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has yet to wake up to the realities of the 'lynch raj'.
It’s been four days since Junaid - a minor from Ballabhgarh in Haryana - was brutally stabbed to death on a moving train by a group of men, but members of the NCM are yet to take cognisance of the matter.
In fact, one member claims to not know about the incident, which is strange as the minor's murder has attracted widespread outrage.
When Catch contacted NCM member and Kerala BJP leader George Kurian, he denied having any knowledge about the incident, let alone what course of action ought to be taken. “I am not aware about the incident, please call up other members,” Kurian said. Kurian was appointed to the panel of the NCM just last month.
Another member, Sulekha Kumbhare from Nagpur, a social activist (nominated as Buddhist member), said that though she knew about Junaid's killing, she was unsure as to whether the NCM will be taking cognisance of the lynching.
Returning after shopping for Eid, Junaid had gotten into an altercation with a group of men over train seats. The attack by the men left Junaid dead and two of his brothers critically injured.
“The Commission has the power to take suo-motu cognisance. But in this case, I cannot say if we are taking any step as of now. If the victim’s family approaches the Commission, we will surely take necessary action,” she said.
State of confusion
However, Commission Chairman Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi, who is currently not in New Delhi, assured that action would be taken.
“I am coming back to Delhi on 27 June and through all the members, I will get detailed information about the incident. Once we do that, we will let you know what action the NCM will be taking in the matter,” Rizvi said, speaking from his hometown in Uttar Pradesh. “Rest assured we will take necessary action,” he said.
He also sought to defend Kurian, claiming that all the members of the panel are aware and concerned about the incident.
An impotent body?
Former panel members expressed anguish over the functioning of the Commission since it is entrusted to protect the interests of minorities.
“It is surprising to hear that one of the members isn’t even aware of what ocurred. I hope they will immediately rush to the bereaved family and take necessary steps,” said former NCM chief Wajahat Habibullah.
Talking about recent attacks on minorities, Habibullah rued the Commission’s lack of powers. “Even in my days the Commission did not have much power. Just taking cognisance, and making recommendations, is what we do after any incident,” he said.
Ex NCM chair Naseem Ahmad termed the Commission’s inaction as “unfortunate”. “Instead of acting they say they are not aware. What can be more unfortunate? The Commission's duty is not just to protect their interests but also to preserve people’s trust. I hope they act soon,” said Ahmed.
Former NCM member Praveen Davar demanded immediate action by the panel. “This is deplorable to say the least, How can a member express ignorance about such a tragic incident. Whenever such an incident happens, it is the duty of the NCM to immediately visit the place of incident and talk to the aggrieved. They should make a visit at the earliest,” said Davar.