India sees a rise in the trend of punishing Muslims illegally: HRW

International human rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) commented Friday that the trend of illegal punishment primarily on the Muslim community is increasing in India.

Referring to several incidents the organisation said, such incidents are occurring mainly in states where the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government is in power.

Illegally constructed homes or businesses of the Muslim communities are being demolished without going to the court. Plus, they are being beaten up publicly on charges of disturbing Hindu religious festivals.

HRW said the administration is taking the matter directly into its hands and giving punishment in public, without going to the court in any cases.

Commenting on the HRW report Meenakshi Ganguly, the organisation's director general in South Asia said that the administrative officials in punishing the Muslims themselves by defying the law openly are sending common people a message that there are no consequences of attacking Muslims.

A video footage captured in Gujarat’s Kheda district on last Tuesday (4 October) was cited as an example. The footage showed a white-clad policeman beating some Muslim men by tying them to an electric post.

The man had a revolver strapped to his waist. Indian media reported the incident while pro-government television channels also praised it.

It was seen in that video that common people gathered at the place and shouted in support of the beating by the police.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement, total 13 people were publicly beaten on allegations of pelting stones at a Gujarati Garba dance event.

An investigation into the matter was ordered by the administration only after there was enough criticism of the incident on social media.

On social media, the incident has been compared to public beheadings or caning in some of the South and West Asian countries.

It has been said on social media that India is gradually moving towards becoming a 'failed state' like those countries. This criticism however came mainly from the European and Western critics.

The HRW report also mentioned an incident from Mandsaur district in the state of Madhya Pradesh last Sunday.

An attempt to murder and rioting case has been filed against 19 Muslim men for allegedly pelting stones at a Garba dance event there as well. After arresting seven of them, three of their houses have been demolished without a court order.

In the past few months, the administration in India has spontaneously demolished shops and houses belonging to the Muslim community without any permission from the court. A short list of such incidents has also been included in the report.

When reports of communal riots surfaced last April, the administration shifted its attention to the properties owned mostly by Muslim communities in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh, Anand and Sabarkatha in Gujarat and Jahangirpuri in Delhi.  

In all 16 houses and 29 shops were destroyed in Khargone while 10 shops and 17 warehouses were destroyed in Anand with 6 properties in Sabarkantha. Meanwhile, 25 establishments including shops, pushcarts and residences were destroyed in Delhi.

HRW statement says, on behalf of the authority an argument is being made in support of the destruction of property by labeling these constructions as illegal.

But a closer look at the statements and actions of the administration is enough to understand that predominantly it is the property of the Muslim community that has been destroyed.

The administration itself is taking action against Muslims on the whole by convicting them for participating in communal violence during riots.

The Indian trend of consistently demolishing houses, shops, etc. belonging to the poor and mainly to the Muslim community using bulldozers, has gained quite some popularity abroad as well.

Last September, Indian Day was celebrated in the small town of Edison, of New Jersey, USA. A bulldozer was presented there as a symbol of India's progress.

The bulldozer had pictures of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

Adityanath started the politics of demolishing houses and shops with bulldozers a few months back. Some Indians however protested this in the United States.

HRW reminded in their Friday statement that UN special rapporteurs had already informed the Indian government in June of the extrajudicial measures taken ‘whimsically’ against ‘Muslim minorities and low-income people’.

International civil and political rights organisation International Covenant has also expressed their concern on this issue.