Rajasthan ‘Op Shikanja’: Action against over 4600 to check communal incidents

Between 4 and 18 May, as part of a special campaign called ‘Operation Chikanga’, the police arrested 90 people against whom cases of communal violence have been registered and whose arrests are pending. The other 4,582 “protective measures” taken are known to either “commit social disharmony” or have a “reasonable apprehension” that they would.

These 4,582 were identified on the basis of previous accusations in such cases, or through their social media posts/public behavior and through intelligence gathering.

Once this campaign is over, Rajasthan Police will launch another exercise aimed at improving law and order in the state, starting from May 20.

Of the 4,582 people facing proceedings, Section 107 of the Criminal Procedure Code has been invoked against 1,035 people, an official said, while 3,110 face proceedings under CPC 108. “The police submit a complaint under these sections to the investigating judge and the judge issues an offer- to give notice to the person. Meaning… The judge may proceed in any of three ways: that the case is not decided; second, that while the case is being heard, the person may be placed in a (restricted) case as a temporary order; and third, that a case be brought against that person.”

Most of these cases go to the second direction, where the action is taken under CPC 116(3) where a judge may direct a person to carry out an undertaking, with or without guarantees, promising to maintain peace or to maintain good behavior until completion of the investigation subject to certain conditions. When a case is brought by the investigating judge, the person must carry out an undertaking. If a person continues to engage in “bad behavior,” it can lead to imprisonment.

In Rajasthan, Section 122 of the Criminal Procedure Act was invoked against 8 persons, while 358 persons were placed under preventive detention under CPC No. 151. The Rajasthan Anti-Social Activity Prevention Act was also invoked against one person in Ajmer, while That the miscellaneous cases account for 70 and in other cases, the total number is 4,582, excluding those arrested.

An official linked private motivation to what happened during the pandemic, calling it “accidental.” “What happens when Covid cases increase? You make masks mandatory in public places, ensure social distancing and appropriate behavior for Covid, etc.,” the officer said. Likewise, when societal issues escalate, the police have to take action to screen them, the official said.

Sectarian clashes erupted in Karoli following an alleged stone throwing of a motorbike rally that was passing through a Muslim-controlled area on Hindu New Year’s Day on April 2.

Then, on May 2, a day before Eid, a curfew was imposed and internet services were banned in Jodhpur after violence followed flags on the bust of a freedom fighter. Three days later, Belwara experienced sectarian tension which led to the suspension of internet services. On May 10 again, Bhilwara once again experienced a communal outburst, followed by an incident in Hanumangarh the following day.

Rajasthan Police formed a six-member Special Investigation Team led by Additional Director General (Vigilance) to investigate the cases on May 6. It has to submit its report within a month.

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trade accusations over sectarian incidents. Since the Karaoli incident, it has been mentioned by Prime Minister Ashok Gilot on at least 11 occasions. On May 1, he said, “What happened in Karaoli was an experience that was repeated in Ram Navami in seven states, which led to riots and then the bulldozers came.”

The BJP responded by accusing Gilot of “appeasement”. “In their (Congress) agenda, the majority of Hindus were not included,” BJP state chief Satish Punia said.

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