A 1970 instruction to the police: Instigators in the background pose a greater threat during communal trouble; prepare their list

namFormer director general of police (DGP) of Gujarat, PGJ Nampoothari, better known as human rights champion, has long held that one of the surest ways to control communal disturbances across the country is to make government officials in charge to be made criminally responsible for failure to control riots. As the following compilation by Nampoothiri suggests, even internal home department orders of 1950, 1960s and 1970s, had pointed towards how officers should be made accountable, and what they should do, when such crises arise:

Ministry of Home Affairs D. O. No. 26/11/56 – Poli (1) 27.12.1956

GOI feels that whenever the atmosphere is vitiated by communal writings and speeches, prompt and adequate action should be taken against those responsible so as to nip the mischief in the bud. Provisions of law be freely used for this purpose like Section 153 A, 295, 295 A IPC and preventive sections of the CrPC be invoked. Preventive detention could also be used in appropriate cases.

Govt. of Gujarat GAD Circular Mis.1060-N dated 2.8.60

Whenever there is occasion to proceed against an editor or the manager of a newspaper for an offence committed by him as such, Government orders be obtained immediately before proceeding against him.

DO No. SB I / DIS. 1058 Bombay dated 14.5.58

Representations from Minority Arls communities about the feeling of insecurity. Govt. must anxious that notice be taken of these complaints and in maintaining law and order or answering calls for protection. In enquiries into complaints of in the investigation of offences committed in communal clashes, the impartiality of the administration should be beyond a shadow of doubt.

Immediate inquiry should be made by a responsible officer even in respect of minor incidents of communal nature so that precautionary measures can be taken against mischievous elements.

Special vigilance be exercised in respect of villages and towns having a communal history.

Prompt and impartial investigation to be done to bring to book the wrong doers.

Government of Gujarat Home department (Special) Circular No. SB I / Com. 1164 / 586 dated 24.3.64

* All possible measures be taken with a firm hand to nip any communal trauma in the bud.

* Police should open fire at the stage where it would be justified. When firing it should be effective and purposeful.

Government officials at all levels should take strong, determined and purposeful action against communal trouble without hesitation or fear. Any such action by any official will have the full support of the government.

Home Dept. circular SB I / Com. / – 1164 / 586 dated 15.4.64

As the safety of life and property of every person in the country must be ensured at all cost, there must be no hesitation on the part of the police to open fire effectively on, and breaking up riotous mobs or on those intent on indulging in acts of communal violence. The executive magistrates and the police officers down to the rank of the PSIs should be made to understand this clearly and they must be told that while dealing with any communal disturbance, any failure or hesitation to take such action will be punished as a grave dereliction of duty.

While dealing with communal disturbances, the degree of restraint prescribed for police firing should be dispensed with.

Home Dept circular SB I / Com. – 1164 / 586 dated 15.4.64

* Keep a close watch on journals and communal periodicals in particular.

* If such writings are noticed, CPs and DMs should first try [0 persuade the publishers to desist from such writings.

* Persuasion failing action under law should be taken.

Home dept. Circular dated 22.5.64

In communal disturbances, prosecution be launched and promptly pursued to ensure conviction. CPs should be invariably press for the maximum punishment. Police investigation in suds cases should unearth the conspiracy which might have caused the riot.

Home Dept Circular SB I / Com. 1058 / 2677 dated 28.6.68

In case of reports likely to create communal tension, action against those responsible under section 153 A, 295 A etc. All DMs and CPs directed to closely watch the writings in papers, periodicals and other publications from their districts and take action. Powers under Section 196 CrPC delegated to DMs and CPs.

H D circular no. SB I / Pol. 1968 / 6994 dated 25.10.68

CPs, DMs and SPs personally held responsible for maintaining communal peace. Failure to  take prompt action will be construed as dereliction of duty.

H D Circular SB I / Com. 1069 / 3830 dated 21.5.69

In case of any communal incident involving Hindus and Muslims anywhere in the State, the CID (Int) should conduct an inquiry to find out whether the incident was spontaneous or whether there was lack of intelligence or whether there was any slackness on the part of any officer in controlling or preventing the situation.

H D Circ SB I / Com. 1069 / 12055 dated 15.12.69

Every district has internal security schemes detailing elaborate arrangements of or meeting different situations inducing communal riots. One of the measures is to round up ‘Goondas’ promptly and without hesitation. A list of ‘Goondas’ is to be kept in the internal scheme and updated every six months. Responsibility has with the DM and the DSPs.

D O No. 19 / 59 / 7O – Poli. 1 (A) dated 29.5.70 from the MHA to all Chief Secretaries

Prompt and efficient investigation and speedy trial of arising out of communal incidents.

Quarterly information to be supplied to GOI.

H D Circuiar SB I / Com. 1069 / 2010 dated 26.6.70

The booklet “Communal Peace”.

Certificate on taking over charge by DMs and other officers that they have gone through the booklet.

H D Circular SB I / Com. 1070 / 6892 dated 2.7.70

Communal activities and situations have to be dealt with in an entirely different manner from other law and order situations. There should be no hesitation in taking the most stringent action at the very first sign of communal trouble. It has been found again and again that commmal disturbances, if not put down firmly at the start, spread rapidly causing heavy loss of innocent lives and property, brutalization of the population and destruction of values of civilized life style. They also leave behind mutual hatred and bitterness and their repercussions are wide and lasting. There is a fundamental difference between situations arising out of ventilation of real or imagined grievances against the government and other authorities and those involving violence between different communities. This dual orientation of the agencies charged with responsibility for maintaining and order is of utmost importance and urgency.

HD Circular SB I / Com. 1070 / 7030 dated 4.7.70

Another list (other than that of Goondas) of people likely to instigate and more people against members of other communities or likely to exploit incidents between two communities should also be prepared for action, should communal trouble break out. It is really this class of persons who pose a greater threat during communal trouble. They remain in the background and play a mischievous and dangerous role in inciting the others to rabid communal frenzy.

SB Circular III / Com. 1.870 / 6982 dated 31.8.70

In respect of posting of police officers in Vadodara, Godhara, Veraval and Ahrnedabad posting of tested officers known for their sound judgment, alertness and ability to deal effectively with commune! situations. Not only the DMs and DSPs but also the SDMs, SDPO and up to the officer in charge of the police stations should possess these qualities.

Such districts, sub-divisions, police stations should be adequately staffed.

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