Last month a judge in Mangaluru, in the southern state of Karnataka, did something increasingly unusual in an Indian court. Not only did he grant bail to 21 Muslim men charged with joining a riot, he also roundly condemned the police for fabricating evidence against them. They had failed to establish a link between the accused and any crime, he said.
They had also failed to register even a single case on behalf of multiple witnesses who claimed that it was the police themselves who had shot dead two people in the city in December during a protest against controversial new citizenship rules. There appeared to have been “a deliberate attempt to cover up police excesses”, he concluded. Two weeks later, in much more typical fashion, the Supreme Court struck down the ruling, sending the men back to prison.
Since the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi changed the laws on citizenship in a way that discriminated against Muslims, at least 80 people have died in related protests, including 53 in riots that engulfed parts of Delhi, the capital, in February. And although it is Muslims, both protesters and bystanders, who have borne the brunt of the violence and vandalism, the government, the agencies of the state and much of the press have persisted in blaming the victims.…
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