Speaking at a press meet and Iftar programme for journalists held this evening at its headquarters, JIH Vice President Prof. Salim Engineer expressed grave concern over the similar pattern of violence which was followed in various cities of India. He said that any violence that was conducted under the guise of a religious procession was highly disturbing for any religion. Saying that religious festivals and processions are meant for communal amity and brotherhood, Prof. Salim said, “if it is exploited for conducting violence or disturbing the peace of the country, then it is highly condemnable and should be stopped. This is something for even religious leaders to ponder. They must come out openly against this trend and urge their followers to stop religious activities from being hijacked by anti-social elements. We feel that the recent Rama Navami violence was not spontaneous but pre-planned. Hence, it amounts to a gross failure of our intelligence, which is also a matter of concern.”
The JIH Vice President urged the administration and the police to disallow the playing of DJs which caused noise pollution through high-pitched sounds that exceed the legally permissible sound levels. He also demanded that the lyrics of the songs being played should be scrutinized before they were permitted to be played as many had provocative and denigrating phrases.
He said that the police should not allow such processions from passing through communally-sensitive areas while they must be strong and resist the political pressure to do so. “It is also quite difficult to understand why religious processions must select a path and have to pass in front of other religious places. If it is meant to provoke and intimidate, then it should be denied permission by the police and administration,” he added.
JIH Vice President has welcomed the Rajasthan High Court judgment in the 2008 Jaipur bomb blasts case, in which Justice Pankaj Bhandari and Justice Sameer Jain overturned the judgment of the trial court that earlier awarded the death sentence to the four accused in the case. However , he said , “the judgment raises some important questions. As the accused have been pronounced innocent, it implies that the real perpetrators of the crime are still at large. Jamaat feels that the government must set up a new team to inquire into and trace the criminals who planned and executed the blasts. It must do so as justice has still evaded the relatives of those who died in the blasts. Jamaat agrees with the court that the guilty police officers who framed false charges should be identified and punished. We demand that compensation be given to the five acquitted as they lost 15 years of their precious lives in jail because of the false cases built against them.”
The JIH Vice President also welcomed the verdict of the Supreme Court of India which set aside the Center’s order for refusing to grant renewal of the broadcasting license to the Malayalam news channel Media One. He said, “the Kerala-based TV channel is popular for becoming a voice for the voiceless and consistently raising issues in favour of the oppressed and the marginalized. It was denied security clearance by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Prof. Salim agreeed with the observations of the apex court that – “The state is using national security as a tool to deny citizens remedies that are provided under the law. This is not compatible with the rule of law. While we have held that it would be impracticable and unwise for the courts to define the phrase national security, we also hold that national security claims cannot be made out of thin air. There must be material backing such inference. The material on the file and the inference drawn from such material has no nexus.” The government had denied the security clearance over Media One claiming that the channel was airing anti-establishment content. He also concursed with the Supreme Court that clarified that – “The critical views of the channel…on policies of the government cannot be termed anti-establishment. The use of such terminology in itself represents an expectation that the press must support the establishment. The action of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting by denying security clearance to a media channel based on the views which the channel is constitutionally entitled to hold produces a chilling effect on free speech and particularly on press freedom. Criticism of governmental policy can by no stretch of imagination be brought within the fold of any of the grounds stipulated in Article 19(2)”.
Prof. Salim expressed hope that the government would refrain from curbing the freedom of the press and welcome constructive criticism of its policies and decisions. “This will strengthen democracy and improve our ranking in the Press Freedom Index,” he added.
Prof. Salim also expressed concern over the report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) saying – “More than 66% of the total income of seven national parties in 2021-22 came from unknown sources like electoral bonds, which accounted for a whopping 83% of their income.
The JIH Vice President has also expresseed concern over the reluctance of the government to discuss the Adani-Hindenburg report that resulted in the loss of lakhs of crores worth of stock evaluation (drop in market capitalization). He said, “the Adani episode damaged the reputation of our regulatory bodies and our auditors. It is reported that LIC of India also had exposure to the Adani group of companies. With such enormous developments, it is difficult to understand why the government does not want a discussion on the issue in Parliament and is refusing to accede to the Opposition’s demand to constitute a JPC for probing the Adani affair.”