A memorandum was submitted by members of Egalitarian Trails to the District Commissioner and the Governor of Himachal Pradesh on 5th September 2020 on the third anniversary of Gouri Lankesh’s assasination day. to highlight the issue of restoring constitutional and democratic rights of religious minorities and marginalised communities, as well as of individuals to be able to voice their dissent. Egalitarian Trails through the medium of this memorandum, has emphasized that currently it is difficult to find a space for minority and marginalized voices within our country. While our constitution grants the right to interrogate power, many communities currently are struggling to claim their identities and basic rights.
The Kashmiri migrant labourers, a traditional working class of Himachal Pradesh are going through a severe crisis in the province, even worse since the abrogation of 370 in Kashmir. They are feeling insecure. Incidents of mob violence and lynching have been occurring recently in Himachal, although Himachal has been comparatively a peaceful state. An atrocious attack on religious minorities was attempted in the last week of 2018 in Rohru. During April 2020, Mohammad Dilshad, who had allegedly given a lift to two persons from the Tablighi Jamaat in his two-wheeler, committed suicide due to continuous harassment, even after testing negative. These incidents have to be considered in the context of the abrogation of article 370 and 35-A in Kashmir, the harassment of Muslim communities via the NPR, NRC, and CAA and the state’s role in the East Delhi pogroms 2020 and its aftermath. The Muslim communities are very insecure and are living in an environment of extreme fear.
Discrimination against Dalits is also highlighted in the memorandum submitted, as also the fact that Christian community is also feeling insecure and threatened due to the growing number of attacks on churches in various places in India. The H.P. government needs to be vigilant and act, so that peace is maintained and the minorities feel safe and secure, feel that they have the right to protest against injustice at least in their own province.
Also highlighted in the memorandum, is the manner in which the regularization of draft EIA notification is being sought. The draft EIA notification 2020 will create havoc with regard to the Bio-ecosphere and will have serious ecological and cultural impact on indigenous communities, threatening their food security and livelihoods. In the context of Shimla, the NGT has recorded that the condoning, regularising, and violation of the environment safety, protection laws have led to the terrible situation of happening disaster in Shimla today. The NGT orders are being rampantly violated, constructions are coming up all around and forests are being misused while the ‘govt. sits saliently watching the scene’. Besides this the pandemic period has given a new legitimacy of hide and seek to the already violated order of the NGT.
In the light of the above, Egalitarian Trails demands vigilance and cognizance by the authorities to promote recognition of the secular spirit of the constitution, to implement the principles of democratic and constitutional rights and to follow the detailed orders for preventive, remedial & punitive measures to deal with the incidents of mob lynching and violence spelled out in the Supreme Court order delivered on 17/7/2018.
Egalitarian Trails also demands strict implementation of the NGT order for protecting the seventeen Green pocket forests; protection of the forests in the water catchment areas and for banning the construction in core area, and construction of high-rises in the entire Shimla Planning area. It is also demanded that the government authorities oppose the proposed draft EIA 2020 as this will lead to the utter destruction of the fragile but crucial Himalayan bio-ecosystem, bio-diversity, and the rights of people to their land, livelihood and healthy environment and to their ethnicity.