Offering a healing touch to harassed Kashmiris, the Supreme Court on Friday directed 11 states to take “prompt action” to ensure people from the state living across the country do not face social boycott or attacks, amid reports of threats, discrimination and violence against them in the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack.
A bench of chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said, “The chief secretaries, the DGPs and the Delhi police commissioner are directed to take prompt and necessary action to prevent incidents of threat, assault and social boycott against Kashmiris and other minorities.”
While asking the home ministry to give wide publicity of the nodal officers’ contact details so that Kashmiris who need help can approach them easily, the apex court also sought responses from the Centre and 11 states where attacks on Kashmiris have taken place
The top court gave the direction after the attorney general K.K. Venugopal informed the court that the Centre had already issued advisories to states to take necessary steps to ensure the safety of Kashmiri students and nodal officers had also been put in place.
“We have also gone through the advisories issued by the home ministry to chief secretaries and DGPs of all states. These advisories already issued shall be reiterated from time to time,” the bench said.
The bench also directed that police officers, who were earlier appointed as nodal officers to deal with incidents of mob lynching, would now be responsible to deal with cases of alleged assault on Kashmiris.
The directions to the Centre and top officials of Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Delhi were given during the hearing on a plea filed by Tariq Adeeb, a lawyer, seeking action against assaults on Kashmiris.
Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Mr Adeeb, said, “The plea was filed in respect of nine states. But since I mentioned it yesterday and until today, 10 additional incidents have come to light, some in two new states of Punjab and Maharashtra.”
Mr Venugopal said that even before the Pulwama attack, Kashmiri students were found to be vulnerable in the rest of the country and the government of India found it necessary to extend protection.
“Nodal officers have been appointed in all states and UTs and there names and numbers are available. This list was updated in 2018… besides, necessary advisories have been issued. Steps have been taken by the home ministry particularly in respect of students residing outside J&K and grievances can be reported on a specific number,” he added.
The public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Mr Adeeb alleged that students from Kashmir Valley are being attacked at different educational institutions across the country after the Pulwama terror attack and authorities concerned should be directed to take action to stop such assaults. Forty CRPF personnel were killed in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14, in a terror attack allegedly carried out by banned terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed
The petition gave details of attacks on people from Kashmir in different parts of the country. The petitioner has prayed for steps to be taken to prevent such attacks, threats, social boycott, ostracism, evictions and other coercive acts committed by groups and mobs against Kashmiris and other minorities.
Specifically, the petition prays for directions to be issued to heads of institutions including educational institutions to take steps to protect the lives of Kashmiris. The petition also prays for prosecution of persons indulging in hate speech.