PUCL Karnataka Towards civil liberties and human rights for all in Karnataka

Letter to SHRC – Mob violence in Doddaballapura, Bangalore

10.07.2023 · Posted in Communal Violence, Human Rights, Minorities


Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC)
4th floor, 5th phase, MS Building, Dr Ambedkar Street,
Bengaluru – 560001

October 7, 2023

Subject: Seeking your immediate intervention in a mob violence case that took place in Doddaballapura on September 24, 2023

Dear Sir/Ma’am,

We wish to bring to your attention a disturbing incident that took place in Doddaballapur on September 24, 2023, which has been widely reported on social media and in news[1]. These reports reveals a grave violation of human rights which require the intervention of this Commission.

The gist of the incident as obtained from videos circulating in social media and news coverage is as follows:

A group of vehicles carrying beef from Hindupura, Andhra Pradesh to Bangalore, Karnataka, were stopped by a mob of 25 to 30 people. The mob consisted of members of Sri Ram Sene, who frequently engage in vigilante acts and hate speech.

After stopping the vehicle, the mob forcefully removed the drivers from the vehicles. Thereafter, the vigilantes physically assaulted the drivers of the vehicles and subjected them to dehumanizing and humiliating abuse. Chilling videos clearly shows the gruesome nature of the incident, with the vigilantes kicking the drivers and forcing them to chant slogans and hurling abuses at them. The vigilantes visibly acted with the intent to dehumanize the drivers and target them because of their religion. They slapped them, beat them with sticks, kicked them and forced them to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ while holding the severed heads of cows[2] while walking in a circle and squatting on the road.

It has been reported that the mob snatched the mobile phones of the drivers of the vehicles, who belong to the Muslim community, forced them into a vehicle and took them to a police station, all the while video recording them and interrogating them about the meat they were transporting.

By video recording these assaults against the drivers, the mob also intended to send out a chilling message to the public, threatening the safety and dignity of Muslims. The members of Sri Ram Sene not only hurt their religious sentiments, but acted with a clear intention to humiliate and degrade them.

Another shocking aspect of this incident is that videos show police officials standing by while the vigilante group was assaulting the drivers. The failure of the concerned police officers  to fulfil their constitutional duty must be met with immediate suspension and strict action.

What is shocking is the complete violation of the rule of law. Sri Rama Sene members have no authority to assault and humiliate those who are alleged to be transporting beef illegally. The Sri Ram Sene are functioning as a vigilante group who are taking the  law into their own hands and committing offences of criminal intimidation, hurt and grievous hurt against  the drivers as well as humiliating and degrading them.  It is only after these illegal and unconstitutional acts that the Sri Ram Sene functionaries took them to the police station.  

In the Supreme Court judgement ‘Tehseen Poonawalla v Union of India’ (AIR 2018 SC 3354), hate crimes are defined as such (Paragraph 20):

Hate crimes as a product of intolerance, ideological dominance and prejudice ought not to be tolerated; lest it results in a reign of terror. Extra judicial elements and non-State actors cannot be allowed to take the place of law or the law enforcing agency. A fabricated identity with bigoted approach sans acceptance of plurality and diversity results in provocative sentiments and display of reactionary retributive attitude transforming itself into dehumanisation of human beings.

AIR 2018 SC 3354

Such vigilantism or mob justice must be met with stringent punishment, in compliance with the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in the same judgement. Please note that these actions of the Sri Ram Sene are also violative of the Communal Harmony Guidelines of 2007, issued by the Union Government, and cited with approval by the Supreme Court in the Pravasi Bhalai judgement.

Based on the complaint filed by the drivers, the police at Doddaballapur Town Police Station registered an FIR (Crime No.:179/2023) against members of Sri Ram Sene and invoked charges under IPC sections 143, 147, 323, 324, 341, 384, 435, 153(a) read along with 149. Considering the brutal nature of their assault against the Muslim drivers, the police should have invoked additional charges proportionate to their crimes in particular 307 of the IPC.

In his complaint (Crime No.: 179/2023), Yaseen Shafiulla (clearly states that he was driving his goods vehicle carrying meat from Hindupur, a city in Andhra Pradesh. Even his vehicle’s number plate indicated that it was registered in Andhra Pradesh. Despite this, the Doddaballapura Town police have registered an FIR (Crime No.:180/2023) against the victims of this hate crime, invoking Sections 4, 5, 7, 11 and 12 of the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Act, 2020 and IPC 504 and 506, based on the complaint filed the President of Sri Ram Sene (Doddaballapur), Pavan Swamy.

The complaint by Mr. Pavan is totally unsubstantiated and is evidently a counter complaint against the victims of violence. Transportation of meat from a city in Andhra Pradesh to Bangalore by road, is not in violation of the law.

The arrest of the victims of the mob violence in this FIR is contrary to the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, [2014] 8 SCC 273 and has been made in a routine manner without application of mind. After having been subject to a degrading and violent hate crime, the Muslim drivers are now forced to undergo more distress because of this.

Therefore, we urge you to take the following actions to guarantee the victims of this hate crime their right to live with dignity.

  1. Direct the police to invoke the following charges in the charge sheet filed in FIR (Crime No.179/2023) that are attracted against the vigilante group: IPC Sections 153 (B), 307, 325, 326, 355, 505 and 506.
  2. Direct the Government of Karnataka to immediately release compensation of Rs. 10,00,000 each for the victims of the lynching.
  3. Direct the Government to ensure the implementation of the Tehseen Poonawala guidelines by preparing a compliance report on the steps taken for remedial and punitive measures by the Doddaballapur Town Police Station and the local administration and monitor the process to ensure that such incidents do not recur.
    • Punitive Measures:
      Based on the following measures as mentioned in the Tehseen Poonawala guidelines, the police officials who were present at the scene of this incident must be suspended with immediate effect. The Government must immediately initiate a departmental inquiry against these officials.
      • Wherever it is found that a police officer or an officer of the district administration has failed to comply with the aforesaid directions in order to prevent and/or investigate and/or facilitate expeditious trial of any crime of mob violence and lynching, the same shall be considered as an act of deliberate negligence and/or misconduct for which appropriate action must be taken against him/her and not limited to departmental action under the service rules. The departmental action shall be taken to its logical conclusion preferably within six months by the authority of the first instance.
      • In terms of the ruling of this Court in Arumugam Servai v. State of Tamil Nadu MANU/SC/0434/2011 : (2011) 6 SCC 405, the States are directed to take disciplinary action against the concerned officials if it is found that (i) such official(s) did not prevent the incident, despite having prior knowledge of it, or (ii) where the incident has already occurred, such official(s) did not promptly apprehend and institute criminal proceedings against the culprits.
    • Remedial Measures
      • Investigation in such offences shall be personally monitored by the Nodal Officer who shall be duty bound to ensure that the investigation is carried out effectively and the charge-sheet in such cases is filed within the statutory period from the date of registration of the FIR or arrest of the Accused, as the case may be.
      • The cases of lynching and mob violence shall be specifically tried by designated court/Fast Track Courts earmarked for that purpose in each district. Such courts shall hold trial of the case on a day to day basis. The trial shall preferably be concluded within six months from the date of taking cognizance. We may hasten to add that this direction shall apply to even pending cases. The District Judge shall assign those cases as far as possible to one jurisdictional court so as to ensure expeditious disposal thereof. It shall be the duty of the State Governments and the Nodal Officers in particular to see that the prosecuting agency strictly carries out its role in appropriate furtherance of the trial.
      • To set a stern example in cases of mob violence and lynching, upon conviction of the Accused person(s), the trial court must ordinarily award maximum sentence as provided for various offences under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
      • The courts trying the cases of mob violence and lynching may, on application by a witness or by the public prosecutor in relation to such witness or on its own motion, take such measures, as it deems fit, for protection and for concealing the identity and address of the witness. (viii) The victim(s) or the next of kin of the deceased in cases of mob violence and lynching shall be given timely notice of any court proceedings and he/she shall be entitled to be heard at the trial in respect of applications such as bail, discharge, release and parole filed by the Accused persons. They shall also have the right to file written submissions on conviction, acquittal or sentencing. (ix) The victim(s) or the next of kin of the deceased in cases of mob violence and lynching shall receive free legal aid if he or she so chooses and engage any advocate of his/her choice from amongst those enrolled in the legal aid panel under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
  4. Direct the State Government to initiate the process to withdraw the false charges against the victims.
  5. Direct the State government and all authorities to implement, in letter and spirit, the Communal Harmony Guidelines of 2007, issued by the Union government, and cited with approval by the Supreme Court in the Pravasi Bhalai judgement.

[1] https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2023/sep/24/sri-rama-sene-forces-7-mento-carry-chopped-cattle-heads-for-beef-smuggling-in-karnataka-2617870.html

[2] https://twitter.com/Hatewatchkarnat/status/1705929146520490362

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