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Pusesavali Riots – Fact finding report prepared by Indian Human Rights Council submitted to Home Minister

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Demand for compensation to Hindu brethren who suffered injustice; The police investigation into the Pusesavali riots Misguided

Satara (P. Maharashtra).

The human rights of Hindus were violated in the riots in Pusesavali (District Satara) and the victims should be given proper compensation as per the provisions of Human Rights Protection Act 1993. This demand has been made to the Maharashtra government by Vipin Menon, director of the Indian Human Rights Council through a memorandum.

Some untoward incidents involving inflammatory posts on social media about Hindu deities and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj took place in Satara city and district of Maharashtra between August 15 and September 15, 2023. A member of the Muslim community was killed in the riots that ensued. It is reported that around 10 to 15 people were injured in the attack on the mosque in Pusesavali village. Although the incidents in Pusesavali village and Satara city are not related, a common thread in the events of both these villages is the offensive content about Hindu gods and goddesses, Bharat Mata and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The international mobile code (092) belonging to Pakistan was found in the social media messaging. Even more grave is the fact that Hindus in Satara city are receiving threatening messages from mobile phones registered in Pakistan.

Menon informed that residents of Pusesavali and those of Satara city had appealed to the Indian Human Rights Council to look into the matter and give them justice based on facts. While Hindu community feels agitated on the unprovoked slander and inflammatory comments, it also feels perturbed by the perceived inaction by the police authorities. The Hindu community is found deeply hurt by the circulation of obscene and offensive content about Hindu Gods and publishing offensive content about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The IHRC decided to form a fact-finding committee to look into the chain of events happening, the root cause of the incidents and submit a comprehensive fact-finding report on the issue.

The reaction to these crimes was very strong and outrageous and as a result, a representative of the ‘Sakal Hindu Samaj organization’ in Satara wrote a letter to Collector of Satara demanding immediate action against Firoz Habib Khan Pathan who allegedly supported Arman Rajasaab Sheikh. Similarly, PI Dhananjay Phadtare of Satara City Police Station was requested to take necessary action.

While the investigation of the crime in Satara City was going on, only three days later on 18 August at 6.00 pm, a very obscene and offensive post about Hindu deities went viral on Instagram. As mentioned in the complaint, the post was sent from the account of “mr_adil_xx”. This matter first spread in Pusesavali village of Khatav taluka of Satara district and a strong reaction started coming from various sections of the society. There was a large-scale dissatisfaction spread among the Hindu community in the city.

The inquiry conducted by the IHRC revealed that a WhatsApp group was created in the name of “Alamgir Aurangzeb Badshah” which is a paid group with about 108 members having 6-7 Pakistani numbers (+92). New messages are created and disseminated by this group. The apparent indications of the Pakistani collaboration in the group should have been investigated by the highest authorities. The police is said to have called this as handiwork of the locals. But it is doubtful if the local persons could have technology base to tweak with the social media handles from Pakistan. Hence the police have not handled the sensitive issue professionally. The presence of Pakistani citizens in the local WhatsApp group needs to be thoroughly investigated.

On 10 September, two Muslim youths from Pusesavali namely Altamash Aslam and Muzammil Tajuddin posted offensive posts on Instagram about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. One Shreeram Ratnaparkhi noticed the objectionable posts on the social media and brought it to the notice of Kiran Namdev Hirve, Police Constable who filed a complaint in the police station and took it up for investigation. Both the accused were detained on the same day. But no action was taken against them. It led to riots and one person was killed while 10 were injured. In this regard, a report was registered in Aundh Police Station vide No. 255/2023 and 256/2023. Initially 23 people were arrested and later the number went up to 35-36.

There is great dissatisfaction in the Hindu community regarding the investigation of these crimes and the methods used by the police. The police are indiscriminately arresting the persons and even those having even no remote connection with the riots are being taken in as accused persons. Reportedly, the police have started summoning the office bearers of the Hindutva organizations which took out protest marches in connection with the crimes registered on 18 August. The villagers believe that the police are treating the persons from the Hindu community in highhanded manner.

According to the complaint received by the Council, Chinmoy Shinde, a complainant in the case no. 239/2023 has been made an accused only on the ground that he is the complainant! Also, Shriram Ratnaparkhi, an important witness in case No. 254/2023 who informed the police constable Kiran Namdev about the viral messages on the basis of which the case was registered has been identified as an accused.

It is a matter of grave concern that the WhatsApp group “Almagir Aurangzeb Badshah” has 5-7 Pakistani members and threatening messages came to the complainants and witnesses through a mobile no. (+923293000329) registered in Pakistan. Since the matter has overtones of the international conspiracy, the local police will be inadequate to pursue the matter. Therefore, the case should be investigated by the central agency, said Menon.

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