The Supreme Court issued notices to the central government and 11 states and sought their response on a plea seeking its intervention to prevent alleged threats on Kashmiri students in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack on 14 February.
Hearing the public interest litigation (PIL), the apex court asked government-appointed nodal officers (usually senior police officers) to take steps to prevent acts of intimidation, threat, assault and social boycott of Kashmiris, including students, reported Bar and Bench.
The court also asked the Delhi police commissioner, along with the chief secretaries and DGPs of Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand to take "prompt" and necessary action to prevent such incidents.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves appeared on behalf of petitioner Tariq Adeeb and asked the Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, for an order similar to what was issued by the apex court in the lynching case. Condemning the rising incidents of lynching cases in India, the Supreme Court had, in 2018, instructed Parliament to come up with a new law which would deal with such offences.
Gonsalves claimed that 10 more incidents of assaults have taken place in various states after filing of the petition.
Attorney general KK Venugopal said on behalf of the government, that the situation was a "human problem". He informed the court that the phone numbers of the government-appointed nodal officers entrusted with ensuring the safety of Kashmiri students will be circulated, reported CNN-News18.
"The Centre has already issued advisory to all states and Union Territories on 17 February but we can't tell the states about their specific actions that can be taken in such cases because law and order is a state subject," the AG added.
The court announced next Wednesday as the date of the next hearing.
A bench, comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice LN Rao and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, on Thursday took note of Gonsalves' submission that the plea needed to be heard urgently as it relates to the safety and security of students.
"The extremist groups have led vigilante mob attacks across the country to enforce nationalism by leaders of various groups who claim to promote and instigated hate crimes," the petition had said.
National Conference leader and one of the vocal critics of the attacks on Kashmiris across the country, Omar Abdullah, tweeted in thanks.
Grateful to the Hon Supreme Court of India for doing what our elected leadership in Delhi should have been doing. The Union HRD minister was busy living in denial & a Governor was busy issuing threats. Thank goodness the Hon SC stepped in.
" Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) February 22, 2019
Reports and widely shared videos of the harassment faced by Kashmiri students and traders had began circulating close on the heels of the attack which killed 42 CRPF jawans. A group of local residents and fringe activists had allegedly surrounded a girls' hostel in the Uttarakhand capital of Dehradun and demanded that its owner "throw them out".
More Kashmiri youths studying in the town had alleged that they were being asked by their landlords to vacate accommodations fearing attacks on their properties. The Uttarakhand Police, however, had issued an alert urging citizens to not believe in "rumours".
Home Minister Rajnath Singh had assured an all-party meeting of doing the needful for the protection of the Kashmiri students and people. Shortly afterwards, the Centre had asked all states to ensure the safety of Kashmiris.
With inputs from PTI