This is a key finding of CNN IBN-The Hindu Election Tracker Survey, conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), across 18 states of the country.
When asked whether Muslim youth were being “falsely implicated in terror cases”, 41 per cent of the voters either “fully” or “somewhat” agreed with the assertion. Among them, 40 per cent were Hindus, and 56 per cent Muslims. When the Muslim demographics was broken down further, 53 per cent rural Muslims and 62 per cent urban Muslims said that the young of their community were being wrongly framed.
One-fourth of the overall respondents, however, disagreed with the statement. Twenty-five per cent of the Hindus, and 24 per cent of the Muslim respondents, did not think Muslim youth were being implicated wrongly. Among Muslims, 26 per cent rural Muslims, and 21 per cent urban Muslims, disagreed, confirming a pattern where more urban Muslims appeared to feel that individuals from the community were framed wrongly.
Over one-third of the total respondents, 34 per cent, did not offer an opinion.
The findings add credibility to the claims of human rights organisations, who have alleged that in an increasing number of cases, right after an incident of terrorism, young Muslims are picked up, arrested without sufficient evidence, charged, and suffer long years of imprisonment as under-trials before an acquittal comes their way. Analysts have often flagged this as a factor contributing to alienation among a section of the community.
Responding to the findings, National Commission of Minorities chairperson, Wajahat Habibullah, told The Hindu, “The commission has been very concerned about this and taken up the matter on several occasions. It is good to have the figures in black and white and this will make our work in getting justice for those who have not got justice easier.” Mr. Habibullah cited the Mecca-Masjid bombing case, where 22 persons were kept in prison on fabricated confessions, and Malegaon case, where 9 persons were imprisoned for six years, before being finally acquitted as proof of this trend.