Members of the civil society on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court, the Uttarakhand High Court and the police to take cognisance of communal tensions in the state. They expressed concerns that the tensions could escalate due to a conclave in Uttarkashi called by Hindutva groups on June 15.

Uttarakhand has been on the boil since Hindutva groups issued threats to Muslims to leave the state last week. Muslim traders in Uttarkashi town were warned to shut their shops and leave by June 15 following an alleged attempt to kidnap a 14-year-old Hindu girl in the city’s Purola area by two men.

The alleged kidnappers – Ubed Khan (24), a local shopkeeper, and Jitender Saini (23), a motorcycle mechanic – were arrested on May 27, a day after the alleged kidnapping bid.

However, Hindutva groups alleged that the kidnapping was a case of “love jihad” – a debunked conspiracy theory according to which Muslim men lure Hindu women into romantic relationships in order to convert them to Islam.

Posters carrying warnings for Muslims had been put up in the Purola main market area forcing several members of the community to flee the town. Doors of shops owned by Muslims were painted with an “X” to earmark them.

On Tuesday, a group of 52 former civil servants expressed their concern at the situation in Uttarakhand in a letter to the state chief secretary and the director general of police. The retired bureaucrats urged the state administration to ensure that “criminal, communal or intimidatory” events like the conclave called by the Hindutva groups not are allowed to take place in Uttarkashi.

“It is a mystery to us as to why, despite information being available in the public domain, the criminal campaign against minority communities underway since May 26 has seen no action...beyond the registration of a case against ‘unknown persons’ after posters were put up,” the former civil servants, who are part of the Constitutional Conduct Group, said.

The signatories also pointed out that the Supreme Court has directed all states and Union Territories to register cases against instances of hate speech even if no complaint is filed. The letter was signed by former Indian Administrative Services officers Harsh Mander, Ravi Vira Gupta, Sunil Mitra, Ashok Vajpeyi and others.

Meanwhile, Vajpeyi and Delhi University professor Apoorvanand wrote a separate letter to the chief justices of the Supreme Court and the Uttarakhand High Court warning that the events in Uttarkashi could be a precursor to large-scale violence.

“The events are in the context of widespread or systematic hate speeches directed against minority religious groups in the recent past, which have created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation,” they said in their letter.

Seeking intervention from the judiciary, they sought compensation and rehabilitation for those who have been forced to leave their homes and shop in Uttarkashi.