In my article “Inaction against fundamentalists will plunge the country into ruin”, I had applauded the Supreme Court of Pakistan decision in overturning the verdict of both the lower Court and Lahore High Court is convicting Asia Bibi under the blasphemy law and awarding her death sentence. The court did not succumb to the pressure of religious groups who wanted Asia Bibi to be hanged based on a trumped up charges foisted on her by her Muslim co-workers. In spite of several drawbacks of democracy, the Indian constitution does not discriminate between individuals belonging to the majority and minority community. Added to this the Indian judiciary has played a stellar role in safeguarding the interest of all individuals irrespective of the community they belong to. Recently, we have seen how the courts have made pronouncements on gender equality, women’s rights to worship in temples, the rights of the LGBT community and any persecution against the minorities. It is for this reason the judiciary has been the bedrock of the rule of law. In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court allowed the women of all ages to worship in Sabarimala, a temple in n Kerala, where according to ancient traditions; women before puberty and after menopause were not allowed to enter the temple. The communal tension in Meerut was building since the session judge of Faizabad Court gave an order to reopen the controversial Ram Janmabhoomi temple complex on a petition by a person who was not party to the dispute — to make matters worse, in a serious error of judgment, the then former prime minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi persuaded the then Uttar Pradesh chief minister to open the lock so that Hindus could offer prayers at the disputed site, as the birthplace of Rama is venerated by the Hindus. There is also archaeological evidence that a temple had existed there, before it was demolished by Mir Baqui, the Mughal commander during the reign of Babar, who demolished the temple and built a mosque, popularly known as ‘Babri Masjid’. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board also made matters worse by giving provocative speeches, which created fissures between the communities. Another incident that could have easily been handled triggered the Hindu -Muslim riots. On May 16, 1987 a Hindu was murdered, allegedly by a person belonging to the minority community over a land dispute. This triggered a Hindu -Muslim conflagration, as a riot it was exploited by people with vested interests in giving a communal tinge to the issue. This led to a riot between the two communities leading to the deaths of over 350 people from both the communities, more among the minority community. Based on a lead, a police posse, with back up from the Provincial Armed Constabulary was sent to Hashimpura Mohalla to round up the suspects. Allegedly 19 personnel from the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) rounded up 42 youths from the Hashimpura locality of the city, and took them to the outskirts of the city and shot them in cold blood and later dumped their bodies in a nearby irrigation canal. Eventually, 16 of the 19 accused surrendered but were later granted bail. Their entry to the Mohalla was severely resisted by the local Muslims during the breaking of Roza. In the scuffle that followed, the rifles of four policemen were snatched by the members of the minority community. One of the persons went to the local mosque and called all ‘believers of faith’ to protect the religion. This message was relayed in all mosques in the neighbourhood. Many of the mosques in the neighbourhood made similar announcements calling on the faithful to defend their religion. The mob that had gathered in the Hashimpura Mohalla burnt a shop belonging to a Hindu who had rented it to a Muslim. This sparked off a conflagration in many parts of Uttar Pradesh and also in Old Delhi. The Hindu — Muslim divide constitutes one of the major religious fault lines of the Indian society. However, what followed the riot in Meerut has no parallel, as the police, the so called custodians of the law, were sent to quell the riots. Allegedly 19 personnel from the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) rounded up 42 youths from the Hashimpura locality of the city, and took them to the outskirts of the city and shot them in cold blood and later dumped their bodies in a nearby irrigation canal. Eventually, 16 of the 19 accused surrendered but were later granted bail. The Supreme Court of India transferred the case from the Ghaziabad district court in Uttar Pradesh to a Sessions Court at the Tis Hazari complex in Delhi. On 21 March 2015, all of the 16 men accused in the Hashimpura massacre case of 1987 were acquitted by the Tis Hazari court due to insufficient evidence and the failure of the survivors to recognize or identify any of the accused PAC personnel involved in the murder. On an appeal, the Delhi High Court overturned the lower court’s order setting the perpetrators of crime free due to lack of evidence. While overturning the court’s order letting off the policeman for lack of evidence, the Delhi High Court termed the massacre ‘targeted killing’ of unarmed and defenceless people by the police. It convicted all the 16 former PAC personnel for murder, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence under the Indian Penal Code. While sentencing all the convicts to life imprisonment, the court said the families of the victims had to wait 31 years to get justice and monetary relief that cannot compensate their loss. The judgment will go a long way in restoring the faith of the minorities in the rule of law. In sum, the onus of protecting the minority community squarely lies with the Government. The increasing cases of violence against minorities are largely due to the ineptitude of the state governments in punishing the perpetrators of violence. We have seen that a large section of people from both the communities want to live in peace, but some vested interests, have always acted at cross purposes by setting one community against the other, because of their vested interests. It can’t be denied that there are saner voices in both India and Pakistan who have openly protested against the growing intolerance against minority groups. There is an urgent need for the governments come heavily against the perpetrators of crimes to prevent repeat of such incidents if they want to protect the social fabric of the country. One way of doing is to sensitize the police to act in an unbiased manner to avoid Meerut type incidents. Secondly, there is an inordinate delay in judicial pronouncements. It took 31 years to the families of victims to get justice. The Central and the State Governments should constitute fast track courts for speedy justice. It is shocking that the case has been stretched to 31 years in spite of the incontrovertible evidence of the police atrocities. It is in this context, the decisions of both the Delhi High Court and Pakistan’s Supreme Court assume significance. The writer is an independent columnist and a political commentator Published in Daily Times, November 21st 2018.