Shooting incidents in JMI: Legal angle

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

“As Right to Life & Personal Liberty, does not include Right to Die, similarly Right to form Association and Criticise the Govt, doesn’t specifically outright the use of arms and ammunition to force the Government to undo anything, which is the will of the people.”

Recent happenings in the heart of the capital of the Republic of India is something which may or may not be termed as stupefying the working of the Indian Constitution, but surely have shocked the conscience of every prudent citizen of this beautiful country.

Our Constitution gives fair privilege to protest against any decision of the Government which they have chosen by exercising their Right to Vote and under a Social Contract have conferred handful of rights with duties to serve the people, and on other hand people also reserve the Right to support any action of Government, on the basic premise that they are no different from ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ who are real sovereign of this Nation who have all right to take necessary action for undoing the wrongs committed by the Govt., stressing on the popular referendum.

But this also comes with certain restriction and duty and a peaceful procedure is what everyone preaches to be adhered by bringing fruitful changes in the policy which is to be enforced for the welfare of the entire country.   

The need to highlight the Right to Protest with the underlying limitations to it arose when the nation was struck with the feeling of terror during the Anti-CAA protests at Jamia Milia Islamia, followed by the police’s strike in the campus which hurled the atmosphere of violent protest thereby noting the gun shooting instances near and in the campus by the Indian Youth, This has categorically raised serious issues as to the Govt’s approach coupled with the ineffective handling of Law & Order Situation by the Police Authorities and reason behind such shooting incidents in one of the Premier Academic Institute of India.

Brief about Citizenship Amendment Act and the contentions to oppose it

After getting the Presidential Assent on December 12, 2019, the CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill) was enacted into the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) which provided for the fast track process of giving citizenship rights to the religious minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who were living in India without valid documents who were ‘forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to religious persecution’ in their native state before the cut off date of 31, December 2014.

The contentions and opposition which traced the path of the 2-month long protest against CAA, which in no case is showing signs to resolve are as follows:

“The critics of the Act quote that it is fundamentally discriminatory in the nature of rejecting one religion and preferring others, which is stated to dissolve & harm the secular nature of the Indian Constitution and specifically violates Article 14 of the same.”

This has caused grave concerns so as to protect the rights of our Muslims brothers and sisters of our Country, for which nationwide protest is going on. However, a major point of concern which has raised under the garb of these protests is the way people are getting around in the protests while damaging the Public & Private Property, protesting with arms & ammunition and even going to the limit of active use of guns and deadly weapon, thereby not only creating an atmosphere of fear or threat, but categorically threatening to wither away the unity & integrity of our homeland.

Brief of continuous incidents of gun shooting in and around Jamia Milia Islamia

Incident No. 1: January 30, 2020- “when a man – who claims to be minor – took out his gun at a student march from Jamia Milia University to Rajghat against CAA on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and started shouting threats. Despite a heavy police presence, the visuals from the incident showed him walking alone on an empty road barricaded by police and finally taking a shot at the protesters.

After shooting, he turned around and shouting at the protesters in Hindi, quoted “Jai Shri Ram, Yeh Lo Azaadi”. His bullet injured a first-year student of Jamia’s mass communication department. Moreover, his social media accounts show that he went live before firing on the crowd, so as to take revenge for the Chandan’s Death in a communal clash in Uttar Pradesh, clearly showing that the protest might have taken a shape to counter personal anguish, which is not yet proved.

Incident 2– February 1, 2020- Where a man resorted to aerial firing while shouting “Hindu Rashtra Zindabad” and “Iss desh mein kisi ki nahin chalegi, sirf Hinduon ki chalegi” near the Jasola Red Light at around 04:53 PM whereby no one was injured, has caused serious question as to effectiveness of Police Authorities who were in large number present near Shaheen Bagh where anti-CAA protests were being held.

Incident 3– February 2, 2020- Where unidentified gunmen riding a scooter opened fire outside Gate number 5 of Jamia Millia University where students and members of the civil society have been holding protests against the Citizenship Act (CAA) for several weeks. The Delhi Police after the incident was reported doesn’t found any bullet shell nor any evidence as to the happening of firing, thereby registering the complaint at the premise of the eye-witnesses of the Incident.

Legal consequences and laws violated by the attackers

The ruthless efforts of the attackers to stir the conscience of the protesters as well as to shake the integrity of our Nation, the incident of firing on the crowd have violated and invoked the following laws against the attacker:

  1. Indian Penal Code, 1860
    1. Section 307- Attempt to Murder
    1. Section 153A- Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony
    1. Section-153AA- Punishment for knowingly carrying arms in any procession or organising, or holding or taking part in any mass drill or mass training with arms
    1. Section-153B- Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration.
  2. Arms Act, 1959
    1. Section 25- Punishment for certain offences.
    1. Section 27- Punishment for possessing arms, etc, with intent to use them for an unlawful purpose
    1. Section 29- Punishment for knowingly purchasing arms, etc., from unlicensed person or for delivering arms, etc., to person not entitled to possess the same.
  3. Invocation of the Provisions of National Security Act, 1980.

Thus, the attackers shall be liable for the commission of the offences committed under the offences hereinabove mentioned.

Impact of the firing incidents: Making law & order situation vulnerable to repeated wrongdoings

Such incidents will surely have an impact not only on the minds of the protesters who are being directly inflicted to threat, fear and injuries, but also to every citizen of India who has trusted the Administration & Policing System, now being questioning the ineffective resolution of such incidents. 3 consecutive incidents have raised serious contentions in the mind of people, that is this the only way to get justice and causation of such firings have also boosted the morale of the deviants to adopt the same, as a legitimate way to bring their choices and needs to be fulfilled.

Some state that such incidents are because of political aggravation, whereas some others denote it as a means to realise the personal enmity. But surely such incidents have a great impact on the mental well-being of the Country, where there is sense of insecurity developed in the minds of people, and thus affecting the overall development and image, as well as repute of the country at the Global Stage.

Conclusion

Theway forward is to take harsh and immediate actions against the perpetrators, because the path they have chosen is surely not acceptable, though their motive is in line with the welfare of the society or the Country as a whole. In this respect, a specialised force should be deployed in the area of protests, who would keep a keen eye on such incidents and an order of immediate action taken thereby to restrict such firing be given to such force, so that Law & Order Situation is maintained and citizen in its entirety feels safe & secure, for which the Govt. as well as the people should join hands.  

Author: Harshit Sharma from Amity Law School, Amity University Madhya Pradesh (AUMP), Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh.

Editor: Anna Jose Kallivayalil from NLU, Delhi.

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