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When communal violence erupts, Aman Committee surfaces: All you need to know about how and why Congress constituted these committees

Though the guidelines clearly mention that anti-social elements and communal forces should not be part of such meetings, a member of such meeting was found with a gun, and the left-leaning media jumped the guns to whitewash the crime.

On April 25, the residents of Jahangirpuri, Delhi, held a Tiranga rally in which members of both Hindu and Muslim communities participated. The rally was held under the banner of the Peace Committee or Aman Committee.

The idea was to promote peace and harmony between the two committees after the Islamists of the area had attacked the Hindus during the Hanuman Jayanti procession. Speaking to news agency ANI, Deputy Commissioner of Police Usha Rangani said, “We organised a joint peace committee constituting members of both communities. They proposed to organise a ‘Tiranga yatra’ in Jahangirpuri & appeal to the people to maintain communal harmony. 50 people each from both communities participated in yatra.”

Members of both Hindu and Muslim communities said that they wanted to live in peace. The rally was to “ensure that no further incidents like April 16 happen in the area.”

Notably, on April 16, members of the Muslim community living in Jahangirpuri had pelted stones at people of the Hindu community when they were taking out Shobha Yatra on the auspicious occasion of Hanuman Jayanti. Several people, including Police personnel, were injured.

DCP had stopped BJP Councilor from talking about illegal immigrants

A peace committee meeting was held a day after the riots on April 16. to discuss ways to maintain peace & tranquillity in the area. Senior Police officers from the Northwest district, including members of the Aman committee of Police stations at Jahangirpuri, Mahendra Park and Adarsh Nagar, alongside DCP Usha Rangnani, addressed the meeting.

When local BJP councillor from Adarsh Nagar Garima Gupta raised the issue of Bangladeshi Muslims creating challenges before the law and order situation, DCP Rangnani interrupted her, as per The Indian Express report. The BJP leader said, “I want to say this in open public. Hindus and Muslims have lived together in peace. The problem in our area, if I come straight to the point, is the Bangladeshi Muslims who have started living here.” Garima Gupta was asked to stop by the DCP Usha Rangnani while she suddenly wrapped up the meeting and asked the members to leave. “You are digressing from the issue,” she said. “Aap sab log apne ilake mein jaiye (please leave for your areas). Let us all maintain peace,” DCP Rangnani said and left.

The issue of illegal immigrants living in different areas of Delhi is a major security threat, and the home ministry and law ministry have pointed out on several occasions that these illegal immigrants who entered India without documents are a major threat to national security. However, neither politicians nor the Police have done anything concrete to isolate and deport them. When incidents like Jahangirpuri happen and investigation hints towards the involvement of illegal immigrants, the issue is often wiped under the rug.

Khargone peace committee called for ‘peace’

A peace committee was also formed in riot-hit Khargone in Madhya Pradesh, where a Muslim mob had pelted stones and petrol bombs on Ram Navami Shobha Yatra. The administration had met the members of the peace committee, which comprised people from both Hindu and Muslim communities, and urged them to maintain peace.

Notably, a 16-years-old Hindu teenager Shivam is still struggling for his life post-surgery. He was hit during stone-pelting. Some reports suggest that there was a hole on his head and skull bone pieces pierced in his brain that were removed during surgery.

Pistol waived in Shaheen Bagh belonged to ‘peace committee member’

On January 29, members of the Peace Committee in Shaheen Bagh, along with Aam Aadmi Party representatives, visited Shaheen Bagh, where a pistol was brandished in the air. Video went viral, and the Lutyens media tried to blame BJP leader Anurag Thakur for the incident.

Interestingly, during the investigation, the Police found that the pistol was registered to one Mohammad Luqmaan Chaudhary, who was part of the peace committee delegation. In a statement to India Today, Luqmaan alleged he was unaware he was carrying a weapon. He had gone to the protest site “peacefully” to urge the protesters to give way to the ambulance and emergency vehicles.

He said, “Around 30-40 people had gathered to go and talk to the protestors. I didn’t realise that I was carrying a weapon. During the argument, someone noticed that I was carrying a weapon and pulled it out. I don’t know who it was.” Luqmaan wanted everyone to believe he unknowingly carried a weapon to be part of a peace committee that went to an already heated zone.

Peace committee meeting at Jamia Milia Islamia in December 2019

Interestingly, a peace committee meeting was held days after Jamia Milia Islamia after stones were pelted at security forces during anti-CAA protests. The local administration and Police officials met with the members of the peace committee and local residents to appeal for peace. A similar meeting was held a few days earlier in Shaheen Bagh as well.

Despite such meetings being held repeated, where Delhi Police met the committee members and stakeholders to urge them to maintain peace, the Delhi riots took place in February 2020. How these peace committees actually help in maintaining peace should be questioned.

How did peace committees come into existence?

According to Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines on Communal Harmony, a letter dated June 23, 2008 [PDF/Page 23], by then-Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta had written to the Chief Secretary was mentioned. In the letter, the Home Secretary detailed the guidelines that were conveyed to the states based on an order dated October 22, 1997 [PDF/Page 139]. At that time, the Janata Dal-led government was at the centre under Inder Kumar Gujarat as Prime Minister, with Congress’s support from the outside.

Source: MHA

In the letter under ‘Periodical Review of Communal Situation at District Level and State Level’ in Section 10, it was mentioned, “Every town identified as communally sensitive should have a Peace Committee consisting of prominent citizens of all communities, representatives of political parties, Public representative, Office bearers of prominent associations/union. Communal forces and anti-social elements should not be included in the Committee. At the time of apprehension of communal tension, meetings of the Peace Committee should always be called to discuss all matters relating to the communal tension. Efforts should be made to enlist the support of the members of the Committee for persuading the members of different communities to find an amicable settlement of the cause of tension and to defuse the situation.”

Though the guidelines clearly mention that anti-social elements and communal forces should not be part of such meetings, a member of such meeting was found with a gun, and the left-leaning media jumped the guns to whitewash the crime.

The guidelines further suggested, “Women are the most affected group in communal tensions or riots. They can be effective in helping to defuse the communal tension and to prevent riots. As such, they should get fair representation in the membership of the Peace Committees/Integration Committee/Tripartite Committees.” This particular part of the guidelines needs re-assessment as the 2020 riots of Delhi made it clear how women were used as a shield by the anti-social and communal elements.

The guidelines that allowed the formation of peace committees after riots are based on the 1997 assessment of the situation. Even in 2008, when the guidelines talked about the committees, it was heavily based on the 1997 assessment. It has been 25 years since then, and it is high time that the Ministry of Home Affairs re-think and formulate new guidelines based on the current situation and advancements in technology to ensure the culprits do not enjoy free run because of such committees.

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Anurag
Anurag
B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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