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India: ‘Security agencies persecuting Muslim youth’


New Delhi, (Greater Kashmir): The issue of incarceration of innocent Muslim youth in militancy related cases rocked Lok Sabha on Tuesday as members of different political parties, particularly from Kashmir, questioned the Government on the issue and demanded immediate end to the practice.

Minister of State for Home, RPN Singh, had to face the anger of the members who were dissatisfied with his reply and accused him of sidetracking on the issue. They alleged that careers of many such youth were being ruined as they have been kept behind bars for years to be ultimately released after acquittal by the courts in absence of any proof of their involvement in militant activities.

Leading the charge, Sharif-ud-Din Shariq of National Conference said that innocent young men were being punished for no fault and the Government has no specific policy to check this abuse. An enraged Shariq rushed to the Well of the House to register his protest. He was joined by his party colleague Dr Mehboob Beg.

Shariq referred to a case in his Baramulla constituency wherein a jailed youth was released after eight years after nothing was found against him.

He also referred to the hanging of Muhammad Afzal Guru and questioned why similar action against the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh has been kept in abeyance.

Dr Beg argued with the MoS when the latter insisted that the issue should not be generalized and that the MPs should pin-point specific cases. The two MPs along with others said that many innocent youth are still behind the bars.

Earlier raising the issue during Question Hour, CPM Member Basudeb Acharya said that the Government was watching silently as the Muslim youths were being jailed for no fault of theirs. He questioned what action was being taken by the Government against those officials behind such arrests.

Replying to the question, RPN Singh said that law does not discriminate on the basis of religion. He said that there are legal remedies available to the affected youth.

He said that 52 terror related cases have been transferred to NIA, of which charge-sheet has been filed in 29 cases. At the same time, 334 persons have been arrested out of which 202 are Muslims.

This specific reference was made by the minister after BJP MP and former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha sought to know the nature of arrests on religion lines. He was reacting to Singh’s observation that terrorism has no religion.

Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav demanded that the Centre should send strong directions to the states so that the innocent youth, against whom there are no witnesses or evidence, are immediately released. A similar demand was raised by former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

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