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News > India

Judge Critical of Government Over Violence in Delhi Transferred

  • Clashes broke out Sunday after Muslims who were protesting against a discriminatory new Citizenship Amendment Act were attacked by Hindus extremists.

    Clashes broke out Sunday after Muslims who were protesting against a discriminatory new Citizenship Amendment Act were attacked by Hindus extremists. | Photo: EFE

Published 27 February 2020
Opinion

Judge S Muralidhar said the court could not let another 1984 riot happen.

An order was issued Wednesday for the immediate transfer of a High Court judge who was hearing petitions about the religious riots that are shaking for five days now India's capital, New Delhi, after he sharply reprimanded both the government and police over the violence.

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During the hearing, Judge S Muralidhar said that the court could not let another 1984 happen when more than 3,000 Sikhs were killed in riots against the community in Delhi.

Videos showing leaders from India's far-right ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) inciting Hindu crowds against mainly Muslim protesters were played during the hearing.

The judge then questioned the way police were registering complaints and ordered the government to ensure that any displaced victims were given shelter as well as medical treatment.

The transfer announced nearly two weeks before the violence erupted happened, but according to correspondents from BBC, the judge's comments are likely to have rushed the move. On Wednesday, his stance made the headlines, and many praised his "courage." The news of his removal sparked outrage and concern among many in the country.

But the government is standing firm that the transfer has nothing to do with the current events or the judge's remarks. The law minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said on Twitter that it was only a "routine transfer".

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Yet, a former Delhi High Court judge doubted the timing of the move was a pure coincidence and asked: "What was the hurry?"

In an interview with news channel NDTV, Kailash Gambhir said the timing of the move was "disturbing".

At the same time, the government failed to convince opposition parties, which continued to blame it for the most violent religious riots the capital has witnessed in decades. The death toll has climbed to 37 so far.

The clashes first broke out Sunday after Muslims who were protesting against a discriminatory new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) were attacked by Hindus extremists in north-east Delhi.

The CAA has been sparking massive protests across the country, as hundreds of thousands of Indians have taken to the streets demanding Modi to revoke the legislation. 

It was passed on Dec. 11 and provided non-Muslim minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who moved to the country before 2015, a pathway to citizenship. 

However, critics and opposition parties say the law, which excludes Muslims, is unconstitutional as it bases citizenship on people's religion and will marginalize India's 200 million Muslim citizens.

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