Politics of pardon in Maharashtra: Govts drop cases against rioters

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  1. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    MUMBAI: The Facebook fracas in the Palghar township triggered national outrage that resulted in the suspension of two top police officials. However, the rioting mob, which ransacked Dr Abdul Dhada's hospital, could escape the consequences of their crimes if, as activists say, the Maharashtra government acts according to its past 'politics of pardon' in riot, arson and other related cases.

    State interference in riot cases, as empowered by the Criminal Procedure Code, has resulted in thousands of rioters going scot-free, with the powers-that-be in Mantralaya time and again withdrawing charges or denying permission for criminal prosecution. Meanwhile, victims of the violence have suffered monetary losses or grievous hurt, and have been left to fend for themselves in silence.

    Thane-based activist Nitin Deshpande said that, often, the government's withdrawal of cases or denial of permission to prosecute is "more to suit political masters than to correct any wrong by law-enforcing agencies. In the process, the spirit of the law is diluted".

    On November 18, around 50 unknown people allegedly caused lakhs of rupees worth of damage to Dhada's hospital because his niece had uploaded a comment lamenting the shutdown due to Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's funeral. Only 10 men were arrested, but they received bail of Rs 7,500 each. Similar rioters have walked free in the past.

    In 1995-99, the Sena-BJP government withdrew charges against 24 Sena activists booked for rioting and ransacking the office of a Marathi eveninger. The Sena-BJP regime's chief minister Manohar Joshi also granted a state 'pardon' in over 200 cases registered against saffron cadres charged in the communal frenzy of the 1992-93 Mumbai riots.

    Sena chief Bal Thackeray also eluded action in a 1992-93 riots-related case after being accused of inflammatory speech in signed editorials in party mouthpiece Saamna after the Babri Masjid's demolition. His signed editorials allegedly sought to promote enmity and hatred between communities and resulted in massacres on the streets of Mumbai. Joshi, however, reasoned that pursuing the cases would reopen old wounds and cause more harm than heal.

    "It's not only a case of misusing discretion given to the state government, but a sheer mockery of the crime and judicial system," said advocate Suhas Oak. "When a crime has been notified and such a serious offence committed, which also results in financial loss to a private person or destruction of public property, there should not be any leniency and interference from the state."

    In 1996, the Sena-BJP government, in keeping with its pre-poll promise, dropped charges in over 1,000 cases registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The cases related to riots and attacks on dalits in the wake of the January 1994 decision to rename Marathwada University as Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar University.

    The Sena-BJP has not been alone in being generous to its cadres. In 2002-03, the Congress-NCP-led Democratic Front government withdrew charges against 51,442 people allegedly involved in riots and street agitations for political and social reasons. Most cases concerned the riots that followed the desecration of an Ambedkar statue in 1998.

    In an interesting non-riot case in 2004, during chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde's Congress-NCP-led regime, the government -- as an "after-thought", according to activist Deshpande -- withdrew Prevention of Terrorism Act cases against 25 people from Solapur who were allegedly found in possession of firearms and explosives. The state's explanation was that the police had wrongly framed the Solapur suspects and the material recovered from them were country-made bombs and knives. Pota charges were dropped and charges were filed under the Indian Explosives Act.

    "It could be the most absurd reasoning considering that Solapur had experienced communal riots in 2002 and these people were held with life-threatening arms," said Deshpande. "Where was the case for leniency? But, I guess political considerations outweigh everything else."

    Deshpande said the decisions to withdraw cases or deny permission to prosecute are "politically motivated". They amount to state pardons to the rioters who challenged the law of the land and caused damage to private or public property. Such acts of dropping charges mid-way through a trial only embolden future rioters, he said.

    Oak said any decision on such crimes should be taken by the courts; the power to punish or acquit the suspects, or drop charges, should be left to the courts and not the executive or legislative branches.

    Deshpande said justice should be swift in cases of public offences and rioters should compensate for the damage done to private property as well. The authorities should check the annual income-tax returns or property holdings of those convicted in riot or arson cases and accordingly make them pay back for the damage done to private or public property.

    Times view: Riots happen because of government patronage

    Statistics, in this case, tell the full story. Riots happen primarily because of government and police patronage. The Palghar case involving the two girls' Facebook comments has got halfway to its justified end only because of media pressure; left to themselves, the government and the police would have sided wholly with the law-breakers. At the end of the day, riots and forced shutdowns (like the one Palghar saw on Wednesday) are a politician's ultimate show of power. That explains why governments go out of their way to treat rioters with kid gloves.


    Politics of pardon in Maharashtra: Govts drop cases against rioters, embolden them - The Times of India on Mobile
     
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  3. GPM

    GPM Tihar Jail Banned

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    Re: Politics of pardon in Maharashtra: Govts drop cases against rioter

    Do you worry why UP govt to ordered withdrawl of cases against terrorists? Both episodes are to be condemned.
     
  4. Victor Sierra

    Victor Sierra Regular Member

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    Re: Politics of pardon in Maharashtra: Govts drop cases against rioter

    Eunuch Government.
     
  5. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Re: Politics of pardon in Maharashtra: Govts drop cases against rioter

    Did you read the full article?
     
  6. GPM

    GPM Tihar Jail Banned

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    Re: Politics of pardon in Maharashtra: Govts drop cases against rioter

    Did you worry even once?

    Haha. Now you might tell me you have certain buttons.
     
  7. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Re: Politics of pardon in Maharashtra: Govts drop cases against rioter

    Did you even bother reading any of my posts on it?

    Typical idiot who jumps the gun
     
  8. GPM

    GPM Tihar Jail Banned

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    Re: Politics of pardon in Maharashtra: Govts drop cases against rioter

    Don't get personal, Mr Mod. Set an example of good behaviour.
     

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