Communal Riots 2005: Asghar Ali Engineer
COMMUNAL RIOTS ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ 2005
Asghar Ali Engineer
(Secular Perspective Jan.16 to Feb.15, 2006)
Like 2004 the year 2005 was also comparatively less violent as far as communal riots are concerned. In fact it is Gujarat, which takes the cake. Perhaps for years to come nothing like Gujarat carnage is likely to take place. Communal carnage of the kind, which took place in Gujarat is not possible without active support of the state machinery. But that does not mean communal violence does not take place at all. It does.
One can put communal violence under two categories:
1) Communal violence which is carefully planned and executed with political or state support or at least with subtle state connivance. Such violence results in great losses of lives as well as properties. It goes on for a long period of time and is deliberately not controlled unless the stated goal is achieved. Anti-Sikh riots of 1984, Bhagalpur riots of 1989, Mumbai riots of 1992-93 and Gujarat riots of 2002 are its obvious examples.
2) Those riots which spontaneously break out on minor causes like dispute on land or money matters between two individuals or groups, knocking out somebody accidentally by car or scooter or construction of mosque or temple etc. Since these are unplanned and spontaneous clashes can be easily controlled, given little determination on the part of police. And in such riots few lives are lost or not much damage is done to properties.
The second category of riots takes place as a result of constant communal propaganda. It is important to note that absence of communal violence does not mean absence of communal propaganda. Communal propaganda goes on riots or no riots. Thus communal forces keep on poisoning the minds of people and keep on promoting animosity between the communities. And so skirmishes continue.
Communal Riots in 2005
It began with Vadodra, Gujarat on 4th February. Gujarat is highly communalised state today in India, thanks to BJP rule and Narendra ModiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s open hostility to Muslims. Trouble began when people in a marriage procession, accompanied by DJ and high power music system, allegedly beat up an auto-rickshaw driver passing on the same rout when he complained of traffic jam. The driver belonged to the minority community, ran away after being beaten up. Soon thereafter a mob came and pelted in stones. A posse of policemen rushed and lobbed four tear gas shells. About a dozen people including a policeman were injured. Four persons were arrested and police also seized the music system.
The rioting in Vadodra was followed by one in Jaunpur village Khetasarai on 4th February. Here it was result of dispute about a cemetery land. In this one woman was killed and 23 persons were injured. Communal tension mounted in the area subsequent to this incident. Violence erupted when some people hoisted saffron flag on the cemetery land when settlement process was on. Then people of one community set fire to two houses of another community. And in response to that people of another community set fire to one shop. Then PAC reinforcements were brought. The people of two communities gathered in large numbers and raised slogans against each other. The police arrested 23 persons from both the communities.
On 8th February communal violence broke out in Rajnandgaon of Chattisgarh. This was result of two girls having fled from their houses and two groups fought on that. Then firing began and then first 144 was clamped and then curfew in the area. There was no news, however, of any death.
Then it was turn of Azamgarh district on 9th February when dispute on distribution of kerosene in Diwali Khalsa village in which 12 persons were injured. Some people belonging to another community tried to enter the queue out of turn and situation went out of control. The police rushed to the spot and controlled the situation.
Again a village in Vadodra district witnessed communal clashes on 11th February when two cyclists belonging to different communities fought. Fifteen persons were injured including a leader of VHP. Many houses were also damaged. The police was keeping a vigil to keep control over the situation.
Next we see communal rioting in Nagazmangala town of Mandya district in Karnataka when an idol was taken from the temple and thrown on the road. However, no one knows who was the culprit. After the rouble broke out rioters, Hindus as well as Muslims went on a rampage in the town. It is said properties worth crores of rupees were destroyed. The police lobbed teargas shells and fired five rounds in the air.
Agra witnessed riots on 13th February in Tajganj near Tajmahal when someone from one community teased a girl from another community. Many houses were set afire after this incident and stoning on large scale started. The police maintained that since police inspector of Tajganj police station had gone out the rioting took such fierce form. He said there was incidence of firing also between two communities. Many illegal arms were found in the area.
Next it was Sanbhalnagar of Moradabad that communal violence erupted on the occasion of Moharram on 19th February. These are communally highly sensitive areas. Rioters resorted to firing in Sanbhalgarh. The police arrested 100 persons from both the communities.
On the same day Lucknow witnessed rioting between Shias and Sunnis in which 3 persons lost their lives and 40 were injured in the old city. Government announced compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs for every person died. 10 shops were looted. The trouble started with Muslims of one sect threw stones on Tazia procession of another sect. Many shops were set on fire. The Shia and Sunni leaders have appealed for peace. Later on 22nd February Banaras also saw sectarian violence between Shias and Sunnis in which 24 persons were injured and when dispute started on Tazia procession due to falling of tree on the way. The curfew was imposed which continued even on the third day of incidents.
Dhar in M.P. also witnessed communal disturbances on 22nd February after an explosion and curfew was clamped. Curfew was clamped after stone throwing and setting fire to properties. Ten persons were injured including policemen. An auto rickshaw was set on fire near the bus stand.
Bhilwada, thanks to activities of Bajrang Dal and VHP, has become extremely sensitive town. On 13th March town became very tense after murder of a Bajrang Dal man. For three days curfew remained in force. In Naseerabad in Ajmer District experienced communal tension when a religious leader was injured in Chaprasi Mohallah.
In Mandal, in Bhilwada district more violence erupted on 8th April when some miscreants hoisted saffron flag on a mosque. Muslims were agitated and they filed FIR and the police promised to act against the culprits. Muslims then took out a silent procession and submitted a memorandum. Then in the evening a procession of Charbhujanath was taken out and it stopped near Lakhara chowk and lot of gulal (a coloured powder) was thrown around and at that time some stones were thrown by unknown people. No one knows who threw stones. All those who live around this chowk are Hindus and stones mainly came from the roofs of Hindu houses. It could be the conspiracy of those who were involved in hoisting saffron flag on mosque in the morning.
Immediately after this situation went out of control and 11 Muslim shops and two houses were burnt to ashes and two mazars (mausoleums) were uprooted and Madina Masjid was damaged and one motor cycle was set on fire. Then curfew was imposed at 7-30 p.m. but before it a person called Kanhaiyya Das, who was among the rioters was killed in police firing. The miscreants put his dead body outside a temple and spread rumor that some Muslims entered the temple and killed him.
The police who knew better registered an FIR under pressure from BJP, VHP and even some Congress politicians and it arrested 25 Muslims and beat them up mercilessly. In search operation for illicit arms in Muslim houses many women were also beaten up. Thus Muslims had to suffer financially and physically. In Mandal there were cordial relations between Hindus and Muslims but BJP-VHP combine do not like Hindu-Muslim unity.
Then in Kareda Tehsil suddenly one found flags on Hindu temples with 786 Muslim sacred symbol) inscribed on them and some animal bones. One can well understand who must have done it. Kareda markets remained closed for 72 hours. The Sangh Parivar fixed the responsibility of this on a sufi saint of Kareda Sailani Baba and described his centre as centre of Pak agents and smugglers and demanded his removal from there and threatened that if administration did not act then it will be converted into Gujarat. Communal tension continued there for many days.
Sailani Baba who has Hindu and Muslim disciples was subjected to thorough search but nothing incriminating was found there. And one who had desecrated the temples was nothing but a Shiv Sena activist Ramratan Jhanvar. The whole conspiracy was exposed and Hindus were stunned by such blatant act.
Holi is another occasion when communal skirmishes invariably take place in some communally sensitive areas. Three persons were killed and several others injured. In Balrampur U.P. people in Subhashnagar and Gandhinagar clashed and set fire to several shops. When the procession was passing through a religious place stoning began and clashes started. The police imposed curfew. Police has filed FIR against 52 persons and have arrested 35 so far.
In Rajasthan curfew had to be imposed in Sojat town in the Pali district on 27th March following clashes between two communities during a dance procession on the occasion of Holi. A dozen persons were injured in the clash. According to the police sources, the incident occurred on Saturday evening as a traditional Holi dance procession passed through a Muslim locality and suddenly both side started pelting stones at each other. Angry processionists went on rampage and shops in the area were set on fire. Seventeen persons were injured and 20 shops were set ablaze.
On 27th March Faizabad in U.P. too experienced communal disturbances when members of two communities clashed on the question of throwing colour by Holi revellers. Members of both communities fired on each other. Four persons were injured seriously and 12 shops were set ablaze. It is reported that during Holi revelries about 6 persons died in different parts of U.P. and 50 persons injured. Police said that in Ferozpur one person was shot dead and one died of fire burns. In Fatehgarh, Farrukhabad one person was shot dead.
On 31st March on the occasion of Rangpanchmi communal disturbances broke out in Sarangpur in Rajgadh district in Rajasthan. In these disturbances several people were injured in stone throwing and police has arrested 50 persons in this connection.
Bhilwara, Rajasthan, which has emerged as most sensitive town again witnessed communal clashes on 8th April when communal rioting took place in Mandal town of Bhilwada district. Muslims from villages in the district began to flee for safety. Trouble began when a saffron flag was hoisted on a mosque in Mandal on 8th April and violence broke out when a religious procession was in progress. In Karjalia village of Bhilwada district Muslims faced total boycott and they began to migrate from there when a RSS activist was murdered on March 1. Hindu activists fanned out in the area and called for a social boycott of Muslims. Some 19 families from the village migrated to other places. No one talks to Muslims and if someone does he has to pay a fine of Rs. 11,000. No Hindu shop sells them anything. Bhilwara has become Gujarat within Rajastan.
In these disturbances 10 persons were injured, 6 shops were set afire and three religious places were burnt down. Kanahiyalal Beragi was killed in police firing but police is trying to shift blame on someone else saying he was killed in firing from unlicensed weapon. BeragiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s family maintains that he was killed in police firing and unless police officer is arrested they will not perform last rites of Beragi.
On 19th April people of to communities clashed in Morshi Taluka of Amravati district in Maharashra in which one person was killed and two were injured. This was result of fight between two youths of two communities on a shop. According to collector of Amravati district many shops were set ablaze and looted. Two Autorickshaws and two motor cycles were also burnt down.
On 7th May a Hindu a 50-60 strong mob presumably belonging to Sangh Parivar attacked with lathis on Muslims who had gathered in Kamba in Bhivandi gathered there to pray at Jannatshahwale BabaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s mausoleum. Most of the Muslims were injured. They also upturned a rickshaw and beat up two motorcyclists. They claimed it is Samadhi of Nonathbaba and not Jannatshah BabaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s mausoleum. The dargah has 100 acre property and Sangh Parivar wants to grab the land.
Next Surat came under spell of communal violence on 16th May. Disturbances started after a minor collision between a Muslim Scooterist and a Hindu Kahar Autorickshawwala. Nadeem alias Kaliyo, the Scooterist was injured and shifted to civil hospital and his people came demanding compensation from Autorickshaw owner. An argument began and stoning and acid bulbs were thrown along with soda water bottles. Several people were injured. 27 persons were arrested in this connection. The mob also set fire to one rickshaw and two cycles. Rumours that Dhansukh Kahar was kidnapped and killed began doing rounds until he was found sleeping near the Tapti bank.
Dhar in M.P., another communally sensitive town came under bout of communal violence after some dispute between persons of two communities in which two persons died and 11 were injured. One Raju Bherivi was killed in these skirmishes. Then a Hindu mob armed with swords and other weapons went and killed one Muslim named Allah Noor. It was result of fight between children of two families, which assumed such grave proportions. Curfew had to be imposed on the town.
Badoda (Vadodra) witnessed another bout of communal violence in Mughalwada and this happened, according to the police, due to gamblers. It is gamblers who were interested in provoking violence to earn money. One gambler has been arrested in this connection. Police had to do lathicharge, had to throw teargas shells and open 8 rounds of fire in the air. In this firing one person i.e. Mohammad Saeed was killed. According to the police apart from gamblers, some politicians and media people also might have been involved.
Major Riot in Mau (U.P.)
Mau, in U.P., again a highly sensitive town and went up in flame in October on the occasion of Dasehra. Mau has significant population of Muslim weavers. It is primarily a weaversÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ town. Unofficial figures of casualties after proper investigation stand at 14 dead in all and properties worth crores of rupees were reduced to ashes. Many shops were looted. Hospitals, schools and other properties belonging to minority community were totally destroyed.
The dispute started on the question of loudspeaker. Taravih prayers were going on in the mosque nearby due to month of Ramzan and in nearby Dasehra maidan loudspeaker was being used for songs. Some Muslims requested to stop it and Hindus, including one BJP leader agreed to it. But next day some activists of Hindu Yuva Vahini led by Yogi Aditya Nath objected and started playing loudspeaker again and some Muslim youth snatched the equipment. A Hindu Yuva Vahini leader fired and several Muslims were injured. This incited some Muslims to attack Hindus and loot their shops.
But next day the Hindu miscreants took over and killed, looted and set fore to Muslim properties and police looked on. A high police officer from Lucknow told me that it appears that Mulayam Singh government deliberately allowed this mayhem and pillage to balance what happened to Hindus on the first day to ward off BJP criticism. However, whatever the truth fact remains that Muslims suffered great loss of properties although casualties seem to be equal in both the communities.
The role of the media, particularly Hindi media, as usual, was far from satisfactory. It published inflammatory headlines about massacre of Hindus. One T.V. Channel also seems to have doctored a video about the independent M.L.A. Mukhtar Ansari as if he was provoking riots in presence of police bodyguards. The video clip showed only his gestures but there was no sound. All this shows media remains a part of the problem rather than part of solution. Unfortunately administration never takes any action against the media for spreading rumours and hatred.
While disturbances were going on in Mau, Agra once again witnessed communal skirmishes on 23rd October as a result of a small incident in which one woman was accused of theft in a cloth shop and the servant of the shop searched her bag under suspicion. This small incident led to communal clashes when other shopkeepers also joined in. Many anti-social elements suddenly appeared with firearms and began looting shops. Hundreds of people went up on their roofs and began stoning from there. This area around Jami Masjid in Agra is communally very sensitive.
On 20th December communal clashes took place between Hindus and Muslims in Vasundari village under Titwala police station. The clashes started on the question of digging earth. While some Muslims were digging earth, some Hindus attacked them with lathis, iron rods and pickaxes. Seven persons were injured. The injured were admitted to Sion Hospital, Mumbai. One Rohidas Pandurang Jadhav succumbed to his injuries and this led to further tension in the village. On hearing of JadhavÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s death many Muslim women fled from the village as many Muslim men had already been arrested. There was ongoing dispute between Zamir Nazir Pawle and Ganesh Haribhav Jadhav about digging the earth for brick kiln. His brick kiln was also destroyed.
Thus it will be seen that except for Mau riots in October 2005 all other riots were minor and result of small incidents here and there. Such violence is also result of constant hate propaganda by communal forces and regrettably governments of various states do not take any action against hate propaganda. And this propaganda helps communalists for planning major communal violence whenever needed as in Mau this year. It is only vigilance by the people and committed members of civil society that major clashes can be prevented.
Centre for Study of Society and Secularism