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MP HC drops NSA charges, grants bail to 4 Muslim youth

The Indore Bench passes order saying that the government had incorrectly utilised the law for baseless charges.

12 Oct 2020

Image Courtesy:newsclick.in

The Madhya Pradesh High Court on October 6, 2020 dismissed charges against four Muslim youths, booked for carrying swords during a Muharram procession in 2019 and levied a Rs. 10,000 fine on the state government for filing the statement under the National Security Act (NSA.)

After hearing four habeas corpus petitions, the Court said, “It appears that only in order to detain the petitioner's brother under the National Security Act, 1980 such an incorrect statement is being made before this Court and therefore, the petition deserves to be allowed and is accordingly allowed with a cost of Rs.10,000.”

Similar petitions are also to be given similar compensation and warned officials to only use the NSA for serious matters.

Justices S.C. Sharma and Shailendra Shukla, observed that the Rajgarh Collector had incorrectly invoked NSA charges against Hakim, Salman, Abdul Karim and Zahir Khan on September 4 for allegedly smuggling sharp-edged weapons and potentially disturbing communal harmony. Barring one boy, the accused persons did not have any criminal record.

“Preventive detention involves serious encroachment on the right of personal liberty and therefore, it is the solemn duty of courts to ensure that this power is exercised strictly in accordance with the requirement of the Constitution and the law,” said the Court order.

According to the Rajgarh police, they had detained the four youths to maintain peace and to “prevent them from acting in any matter prejudicial to the security of the state.” The SP submitted a report on September 3 following which the district collector passed the NSA detention order.

However, the bail petition filed by Hakim’s elder brother said that the police had detained him on the intervening night of August 23 and 24 and later sent him to district jail under section 25 of the Arms Act. Following this, the Collector invoked NSA charges and passed an order of detention.

“The brother of the petitioner is not a hardcore criminal and was only charged with section 25 of the Arms Act. But, the collector invoked NSA against him, that too when he was in jail for an alleged crime which was done a year ago. The order of detention has been passed in a vindictive manner,” said Advocate Manish Vijaywargiya for the petitioner.

He argued that the detention under NSA was also not approved within 12 days as per requirement.

The court in turn questioned why the order was not issued on September 14 when the approval to the detention was granted. They suspected the administration ante-dated the order of approval.

The grounds of detention were served to Hakim along with supporting documents on September 5, when he was in jail while the state government gave its approval on September 14. Hakim received the approval on September 17 and the matter was still pending before the advisory board.

“This court really fails to understand that based upon a Rojnamcha entry, dated August 30, 2020, in which it was stated by police that the brother of the petitioner participated in Muharram procession last year carrying swords, how can he be a threat to law and order? Participation in Muharram last year, even if it is presumed to be correct, has got no relevance with the procession which was to take place this year,” said the Bench.

“In this case, the district magistrate acted with non-application of mind and passed detention order under NSA. Similarly, in the other petitions, approval was not given within 12 days, so the order of NSA is revoked in them also,” the court said.

While hearing the pleas, the Court referred to another case on September 15, where the Court disposed of similar detainment under the NSA imposed by the Indore Collector on five Muslims for participating in a Muharram procession on August 30.

Related:

SC quashed Guj government’s anti-worker notification
Bombay HC quashes Tablighi Jamaat FIR;  says trial would be abuse of process of law
Communal Riots 2019: Communal Discourse Raging On in India
Muslim festivals left out of NPR instruction manual

MP HC drops NSA charges, grants bail to 4 Muslim youth

The Indore Bench passes order saying that the government had incorrectly utilised the law for baseless charges.

Image Courtesy:newsclick.in

The Madhya Pradesh High Court on October 6, 2020 dismissed charges against four Muslim youths, booked for carrying swords during a Muharram procession in 2019 and levied a Rs. 10,000 fine on the state government for filing the statement under the National Security Act (NSA.)

After hearing four habeas corpus petitions, the Court said, “It appears that only in order to detain the petitioner's brother under the National Security Act, 1980 such an incorrect statement is being made before this Court and therefore, the petition deserves to be allowed and is accordingly allowed with a cost of Rs.10,000.”

Similar petitions are also to be given similar compensation and warned officials to only use the NSA for serious matters.

Justices S.C. Sharma and Shailendra Shukla, observed that the Rajgarh Collector had incorrectly invoked NSA charges against Hakim, Salman, Abdul Karim and Zahir Khan on September 4 for allegedly smuggling sharp-edged weapons and potentially disturbing communal harmony. Barring one boy, the accused persons did not have any criminal record.

“Preventive detention involves serious encroachment on the right of personal liberty and therefore, it is the solemn duty of courts to ensure that this power is exercised strictly in accordance with the requirement of the Constitution and the law,” said the Court order.

According to the Rajgarh police, they had detained the four youths to maintain peace and to “prevent them from acting in any matter prejudicial to the security of the state.” The SP submitted a report on September 3 following which the district collector passed the NSA detention order.

However, the bail petition filed by Hakim’s elder brother said that the police had detained him on the intervening night of August 23 and 24 and later sent him to district jail under section 25 of the Arms Act. Following this, the Collector invoked NSA charges and passed an order of detention.

“The brother of the petitioner is not a hardcore criminal and was only charged with section 25 of the Arms Act. But, the collector invoked NSA against him, that too when he was in jail for an alleged crime which was done a year ago. The order of detention has been passed in a vindictive manner,” said Advocate Manish Vijaywargiya for the petitioner.

He argued that the detention under NSA was also not approved within 12 days as per requirement.

The court in turn questioned why the order was not issued on September 14 when the approval to the detention was granted. They suspected the administration ante-dated the order of approval.

The grounds of detention were served to Hakim along with supporting documents on September 5, when he was in jail while the state government gave its approval on September 14. Hakim received the approval on September 17 and the matter was still pending before the advisory board.

“This court really fails to understand that based upon a Rojnamcha entry, dated August 30, 2020, in which it was stated by police that the brother of the petitioner participated in Muharram procession last year carrying swords, how can he be a threat to law and order? Participation in Muharram last year, even if it is presumed to be correct, has got no relevance with the procession which was to take place this year,” said the Bench.

“In this case, the district magistrate acted with non-application of mind and passed detention order under NSA. Similarly, in the other petitions, approval was not given within 12 days, so the order of NSA is revoked in them also,” the court said.

While hearing the pleas, the Court referred to another case on September 15, where the Court disposed of similar detainment under the NSA imposed by the Indore Collector on five Muslims for participating in a Muharram procession on August 30.

Related:

SC quashed Guj government’s anti-worker notification
Bombay HC quashes Tablighi Jamaat FIR;  says trial would be abuse of process of law
Communal Riots 2019: Communal Discourse Raging On in India
Muslim festivals left out of NPR instruction manual

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In a first in 700 years, no ‘tazia’ processions in Delhi

A practice that displays India’s syncretic culture, with both Muslims and Hindus participating, the carrying of ‘tazias’ at Muharram in Delhi has been undertaken since medieval times. In 2020, for the first time for 700 years that processions will not be carried out, Syed Kashif Nizami has told the media

25 Aug 2020

Image Courtesy:abplive.com

A practice that dates back to medieval times: the carrying of 'tazias' at Muharram in Delhi has been undertaken since medieval times. This will be the first time for 700 years that processions will not be carried out, said Syed Kashif Nizami, the custodian of the revered Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya shrine. ‘Tazias’ are made in the thousands in Delhi, but this time due to the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown, people are not buying ‘tazias’ for ‘aquidat’ goodbye prayers reported IANS.

"Even after and during the Partition in 1947, there was no ban on 'tazia' processions in the dargah, but this time due to the corona pandemic, Delhi and the Central government have not allowed processions to be held in a mass religious programme."

"For more than 700 years, the largest 'tazia', decorated with flowers, is kept in the Imambara, which is at a small distance from the dargah. More than four 'tazias' decorated with flowers are kept here."

The 10th day of Muharram, which marks the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet at Iraq's Karbala in 681 A.D, and this is a day that a procession with mourners carrying daggers and knives is carried out from the dargah and the blood oozing out of their self-inflicted wounds is reminiscent of the tragedy. In 2020 however, all such activities have been banned due to the pandemic. So this time only 'tazias' decorated with flowers will be sent to Karbala in the capital.

Gauhar Asghar Kasmi, a member of Shah-e-Mardan Dargah and Anjuman Karbala Committee at Aliganj Jorbagh in Delhi, said: "Every year, the 'majlis' starts from the first day of Muharram. Tazias are also kept at many places. On the 10th day of Muharram, processions reach here with nearly 70 large tazias. Tazias are buried here. A procession of mourners beating their chests take to the streets on Teej, the 12th day of mourning. 'Majlis' are being organised this year only in the Imambaras. People are allowed to participate in the Majlis with observance of social distancing norms."

India’s syncretic culture and its attendant Hindu-Muslim unity is also at display every year on Muharram. Mohammad Zuhaib Nizami, who is associated with Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah, said: "Many Hindu families in the vicinity have been part of the 'tazia' processions for many years owing to their faith. A Hindu family in Mehrauli has been doing so for many decades."

The coronavirus has also affected the life of people involved in the business of 'tazia'. 'Tazias' are made in thousands in Delhi, but this time due to corona, people are not buying 'tazias' for 'aqidat' (goodbye prayers).

In a first in 700 years, no ‘tazia’ processions in Delhi

A practice that displays India’s syncretic culture, with both Muslims and Hindus participating, the carrying of ‘tazias’ at Muharram in Delhi has been undertaken since medieval times. In 2020, for the first time for 700 years that processions will not be carried out, Syed Kashif Nizami has told the media

Image Courtesy:abplive.com

A practice that dates back to medieval times: the carrying of 'tazias' at Muharram in Delhi has been undertaken since medieval times. This will be the first time for 700 years that processions will not be carried out, said Syed Kashif Nizami, the custodian of the revered Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya shrine. ‘Tazias’ are made in the thousands in Delhi, but this time due to the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown, people are not buying ‘tazias’ for ‘aquidat’ goodbye prayers reported IANS.

"Even after and during the Partition in 1947, there was no ban on 'tazia' processions in the dargah, but this time due to the corona pandemic, Delhi and the Central government have not allowed processions to be held in a mass religious programme."

"For more than 700 years, the largest 'tazia', decorated with flowers, is kept in the Imambara, which is at a small distance from the dargah. More than four 'tazias' decorated with flowers are kept here."

The 10th day of Muharram, which marks the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet at Iraq's Karbala in 681 A.D, and this is a day that a procession with mourners carrying daggers and knives is carried out from the dargah and the blood oozing out of their self-inflicted wounds is reminiscent of the tragedy. In 2020 however, all such activities have been banned due to the pandemic. So this time only 'tazias' decorated with flowers will be sent to Karbala in the capital.

Gauhar Asghar Kasmi, a member of Shah-e-Mardan Dargah and Anjuman Karbala Committee at Aliganj Jorbagh in Delhi, said: "Every year, the 'majlis' starts from the first day of Muharram. Tazias are also kept at many places. On the 10th day of Muharram, processions reach here with nearly 70 large tazias. Tazias are buried here. A procession of mourners beating their chests take to the streets on Teej, the 12th day of mourning. 'Majlis' are being organised this year only in the Imambaras. People are allowed to participate in the Majlis with observance of social distancing norms."

India’s syncretic culture and its attendant Hindu-Muslim unity is also at display every year on Muharram. Mohammad Zuhaib Nizami, who is associated with Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah, said: "Many Hindu families in the vicinity have been part of the 'tazia' processions for many years owing to their faith. A Hindu family in Mehrauli has been doing so for many decades."

The coronavirus has also affected the life of people involved in the business of 'tazia'. 'Tazias' are made in thousands in Delhi, but this time due to corona, people are not buying 'tazias' for 'aqidat' (goodbye prayers).

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In Tamil Nadu, Hindus observe ‘Allah Festival’ on eve of Muharram

17 Sep 2019

Muharram is first month of the Islamic New Year. This month holds special place for the Muslims all over the world due to killing of Imam Husain in the battle of Karbala (Iraq) on the 10th day of Muharram. Husain was the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and son of Caliph Ali.



Image courtesy: Indian Express

Muslims mourn the first 10 days of Muharram month and this mourning is observed in different ways in different parts of the world.

However, in a sleepy village of Tamil of Tamil Nadu, Muharram is observed as ‘Allah Festival’ by the Hindu residents with equal fervor as Muslim brethren do so in other places of the world.

The residents of Kasanadu Pudu, in Thanjavur district who are predominantly Hindus except for a handful of Muslims, start preparation for the festival ten days in advance. They clean the vicinity of the Allah temple (Koil) near the public square of the village. They paint and decorate the Koil with new green flags, flowers and decorative lights.

On the eve of Muharram, the Hindu women of the village take out a procession from each street that ends at ‘Allah Koil.’  They carry a large pot filled with sweetened water atop their heads with a small pot over the larger pot that has puffed rice and jiggery inside.  Members of the Muslim families also conduct some rituals and offer puffed rice and jaggery to the Allah Koil.
 
While women take out the procession with pots, the men of the village take out another procession with hand symbol with five fingers, tied to a pole and call it “Five finger Allah.” This is followed by some carrying four, three, two and single finger symbols. This procession wades through the entire village and reaches the ‘Allah Koil’ in the end.
 
As the procession proceeds through the village streets, residents pay obeisance to the hand symbols from their houses and those who make vows offer garlands made of lemon and silk towels to the symbols.

The procession ends on the 10th Muharram and those holding the finger symbols and those making vows, observe a fire-walk ritual by walking bare foot on the burning fire.

With this activity, the festival comes to a close and the finger symbols are deposited at the Allah Koil.  It will be taken out again next year for the Allah festival on the eve of Muharram.

The tradition of the ‘Allah festival’ celebration is quite ancient. A legend has it that some villagers of Kasanadu Pudu saw a light in the flowing water of Pudhu Aaru River which passes near the village. A resident found a hand symbol with five fingers made of metal. Later, he had a dream in which a Muslim saint told him that he would be residing in this village to bestow his blessings to the villagers.

As such this became the reason for ‘Allah festival’ that is celebrated every year beginning from the first day of Muharram and concluded on the 10th day of Muharram.

M Singaravel, a native of the village who works as a health inspector with the health department said, ‘Allah festival’ is a faith based festival celebrated by the Hindu residents of Kasanadu Pudu village from centuries. There is an emotional attachment to the festival as many people’s vows being getting fulfilled in this festival.

“I had vowed to offer a silk shawl, if my daughter got a seat in the desired course,” Singaravel said adding his wish was granted.

Apart from Kasanadu Pudu village ‘Allah festival’ is also celebrated in a few other villages including Ko Vallundampattu near Thanjavur. The most fascinating part of this festival is the excitement with which Hindu families start preparation for the festival.  The natives of the village working elsewhere in various places make it a point to come to their village especially to attend the celebration of ‘Allah festival.’

This is a remarkable story of the survival of little tradition in the country, at a time when the great tradition of Hindutva is bulldozing all other tradition under the juggernaut of ‘Jai Sri Ram.’  This ‘little tradition’ of syncretic culture upholds the liberal values of Hinduism and maintains the communal harmony of the country.
 
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com

Courtesy: Two Circle

In Tamil Nadu, Hindus observe ‘Allah Festival’ on eve of Muharram

Muharram is first month of the Islamic New Year. This month holds special place for the Muslims all over the world due to killing of Imam Husain in the battle of Karbala (Iraq) on the 10th day of Muharram. Husain was the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and son of Caliph Ali.



Image courtesy: Indian Express

Muslims mourn the first 10 days of Muharram month and this mourning is observed in different ways in different parts of the world.

However, in a sleepy village of Tamil of Tamil Nadu, Muharram is observed as ‘Allah Festival’ by the Hindu residents with equal fervor as Muslim brethren do so in other places of the world.

The residents of Kasanadu Pudu, in Thanjavur district who are predominantly Hindus except for a handful of Muslims, start preparation for the festival ten days in advance. They clean the vicinity of the Allah temple (Koil) near the public square of the village. They paint and decorate the Koil with new green flags, flowers and decorative lights.

On the eve of Muharram, the Hindu women of the village take out a procession from each street that ends at ‘Allah Koil.’  They carry a large pot filled with sweetened water atop their heads with a small pot over the larger pot that has puffed rice and jiggery inside.  Members of the Muslim families also conduct some rituals and offer puffed rice and jaggery to the Allah Koil.
 
While women take out the procession with pots, the men of the village take out another procession with hand symbol with five fingers, tied to a pole and call it “Five finger Allah.” This is followed by some carrying four, three, two and single finger symbols. This procession wades through the entire village and reaches the ‘Allah Koil’ in the end.
 
As the procession proceeds through the village streets, residents pay obeisance to the hand symbols from their houses and those who make vows offer garlands made of lemon and silk towels to the symbols.

The procession ends on the 10th Muharram and those holding the finger symbols and those making vows, observe a fire-walk ritual by walking bare foot on the burning fire.

With this activity, the festival comes to a close and the finger symbols are deposited at the Allah Koil.  It will be taken out again next year for the Allah festival on the eve of Muharram.

The tradition of the ‘Allah festival’ celebration is quite ancient. A legend has it that some villagers of Kasanadu Pudu saw a light in the flowing water of Pudhu Aaru River which passes near the village. A resident found a hand symbol with five fingers made of metal. Later, he had a dream in which a Muslim saint told him that he would be residing in this village to bestow his blessings to the villagers.

As such this became the reason for ‘Allah festival’ that is celebrated every year beginning from the first day of Muharram and concluded on the 10th day of Muharram.

M Singaravel, a native of the village who works as a health inspector with the health department said, ‘Allah festival’ is a faith based festival celebrated by the Hindu residents of Kasanadu Pudu village from centuries. There is an emotional attachment to the festival as many people’s vows being getting fulfilled in this festival.

“I had vowed to offer a silk shawl, if my daughter got a seat in the desired course,” Singaravel said adding his wish was granted.

Apart from Kasanadu Pudu village ‘Allah festival’ is also celebrated in a few other villages including Ko Vallundampattu near Thanjavur. The most fascinating part of this festival is the excitement with which Hindu families start preparation for the festival.  The natives of the village working elsewhere in various places make it a point to come to their village especially to attend the celebration of ‘Allah festival.’

This is a remarkable story of the survival of little tradition in the country, at a time when the great tradition of Hindutva is bulldozing all other tradition under the juggernaut of ‘Jai Sri Ram.’  This ‘little tradition’ of syncretic culture upholds the liberal values of Hinduism and maintains the communal harmony of the country.
 
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com

Courtesy: Two Circle

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A leaf from the illustrious life of the CM of Uttar Pradesh

20 Mar 2017
Account of a ten year old story: Helps you understand the CM of UP.

What happened in the eastern Uttar Pradesh town was not a conflict but violence unleashed by MP Yogi Adityanath and his henchmen 

Yogi Adityanath


If one tries to understand the developments in Gorakhpur and its neighbouring areas of eastern Uttar Pradesh (Poorvanchal) from January 26 to 31, 2007 through the eyes of the print and electronic media, one moves further away from the truth. It is a sordid story of a highly communalised media conjuring up a riot, collaborating with BJP MP Yogi Adityanath, a Bal Thackeray clone and heir to the Gorakhnath Peeth operating from the Gorakhnath temple. Adityanath is a BJP MP for ‘technical’ reasons and cares a damn for the niceties of party discipline because he knows that the party cannot dissociate itself from him. Though he mocked the party by holding a Vishwa Hindu Maha Sammelan at the same time as the BJP’s National Council meet in Lucknow, the party did not mind. It had earlier swallowed the defeat of its candidate in the Assembly election by Adityanath’s candidate. One should know that he is a Thakur; and a Thakur heads the BJP now. The Thakur spread across party lines ensures that Adityanath is allowed to have his own way in his fiefdom, i.e. Poorvanchal. He makes it a point to give calls for a Gorakhpur bandh whenever the chief minister visits the town.

Also read: “Kill 10 Muslims for Murder of Every Hindu” – Among CM Yogi Adityanath’s Choicest Words

'Poorvanchal mein rahan hai to Yogi-Yogi kahna hoga' (You have to chant Yogi’s name if you want to live in Poorvanchal) is a slogan popularised by his gang. But how true is the claim of his hold on Gorakhpur, leave alone Poorvanchal? He has lost all local elections held recently in and around Gorakhpur, and could only manage to lure the relatively respected Samajwadi Party (SP) member and mayoral candidate Anju Chaudhary to his side.

Apparently, Chaudhary fell a victim to the myth spun around him during the last 15 years. Adityanath has been called the Yuvak Hindu Samrat, Narendra Modi of Poorvanchal, the premier of the Hindu Rashtra of Poorvanchal. He has used the wealth of the Gorakhnath Temple to sustain his army of lumpen youth. Adityanath has followed the RSS methodology in creating organisations with different names that he calls cultural bodies. Among these are Hindu Yuva Vahini, Sri Ram Shakti Prakoshtha, Gorakhnath Purvanchal Vikas Manch, Hindu Mahasabha and Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh. Adityanath himself is the main functionary of these unregistered outfits. He also controls much of the functioning of the Bajrang Dal and the Hindu Jagran Manch. He holds his durbar in his temple that is attended by local police and officials.

Adityanath has perfected his technique of manufacturing riots. An insignificant incident like a Hindu’s clothes getting stained accidentally by the paan spat by a Muslim is turned into an act of humiliation of Hindus. A rape in which the victim is dalit and the perpetrator Muslim is used to substantiate the allegation that “Muslims rape our women” and all hell is let loose on the Muslims. The last 11 years are witness to several such acts. No criminal case has been registered against him except once in 1999 when a case was registered against him in Maharajganj after the killing of the official gunman accompanying sp leader Talat Aziz. The police and administration have remained mute spectators with the political leadership looking the other way. All this has given him an air of invincibility. Muslims have been given to understand that neither the Bahujan Samaj Party, nor the sp is willing to rein him in. Perhaps the SP is seeking to counter Mayawati’s Brahmin card with its own Thakur card by indulging him. The Congress is nowhere and also lacks a will to take him on. All this leaves the Muslims here with no option but to resign themselves to their fate.

This time, however, his plans went awry. On the night of January 26-27, Pankaj Rai, a history-sheeter, and his gang chased a dance party performing at a marriage. They mingled with a Muharram procession and the processionists thought that they were being attacked. Suddenly a gunshot was heard, which the then administration thinks was Rai’s act. As panic set in, more people — both Hindu and Muslim — were beaten up and a young man, Raj Kumar Agrahari, was badly injured and hospitalised. The District Magistrate (DM) was informed at 1.30am and he told officials to brief Adityanath that he should not visit the site. Initially, the MP agreed. But as Agrahari died, Adityanath declared that now he would go to the spot and seek revenge for the killing of a Hindu by Muslims. He reached the spot with his lumpen who destroyed a mazhar. He declared his resolve to ensure justice for the Hindus, swords were flashed before the dm and senior police officers. Short of policemen, the administration tried to persuade the MP to vacate the place but he didn’t budge.

When the now-determined dm took the dagger away from a goon, they charged towards him and demanded the dagger back. Upon this, the dm ordered the police to disperse them by force. Suddenly the MP found himself facing a situation that was not in the script. Afraid that the lathis might find Adityanath, his well-wishers cried out for compromise. The MP demanded that curfew be imposed and withdrew. Though the dm didn’t think a curfew was required as the violence was designed to disrupt Muharram, he agreed to the MP’s demand.

Later, however, Adityanath announced a torchlight procession. The administration succeeded in preventing it from moving but it was captured on camera and a non-procession was turned into one by the willing media. Emboldened, he announced a Shraddhanjali Sabha the next day at the town’s busiest crossroad. By this time, the dm had resolved not to allow it any further as the police reinforcements were in. He issued orders that no meeting was to be allowed and that any violator was to be arrested. With unambiguous orders, the police moved. Adityanath dismissed the warning as a hollow threat but landed in an unforeseen situation.

He and his ‘followers’ were taken to the police line. Soon, a police van arrived and the detained people were asked to board the jail-bound vehicle. Adityanath jumped into the bus, declaring that he cannot leave his followers. To their surprise, the bus started moving and they realised that they were in trouble. The three-km journey to the jail took more than 90 minutes as his goons pelted stones and every other means to block the van but to no avail. For the first time in his life, Adityanath is jailed under Section 151A of the crpc only to find later that he has also been booked under Sections 146, 147, 279, 506 of the Indian Penal Code for leading the attack on the mazaar (grave). On the strength of this fir, Adityanath is remanded to 14-day judicial custody.

On January 29, his followers assembled at Gorakhnath Temple that falls in an area where more than 50 percent of the population is Muslim. They start throwing stones and burning tyres in the direction of the Muslim locality and on the road. But there is no retaliation from the other side.

Dr Hari Om, the then dm in-charge, wishes to put it on record that not a single incident of slogan-shouting or stone-pelting was resorted to by Muslims. He wants the world to know that although much grieved by the decision to impose curfew as it hampered Muharram, the Muslims, led by the venerable Miyan saheb, assured the administration of all cooperation as peace was more important and kept their word. Meanwhile, the media kept screaming that Gorakhpur was burning, the walls of the Gorakhnath Temple were demolished. Which, of course, was a naked lie.

And all of a sudden, the district magistrate was informed that he’s been shunted along with the superintendent of police. As he moved away, Rashid, a Muslim youth, was killed. It is a matter of discussion in Gorakhpur that it was done by a Hindu Yuva Vahini man who injured himself to use it as a cover. Newspapers flashed the pictures of the Yuva Vahini man’s bandaged leg, obliterating the killing of Rashid altogether.

So where was the riot, as imagined by the interested media, asks Hari Om. From January 27 to 29, Adityanath and his goons laid siege to Gorakhpur without any provocation from Muslims. A mazhar was gutted, masjids and shops of Muslims destroyed, government properties damaged by the gangs, stone pelting on the police by his goons: do these make a perfect riot? A riot involves some degree of involvement of two warring groups. How is it that areas with substantial Muslim population did not experience any untoward incident barring the planned attacks of Adityanath’s gangs? Why did cm Mulayam Singh Yadav remove the officers who jailed the BJP MP who was hell-bent on destroying peace? Why did the officers’ successors go straight to Adityanath for forgiveness? Why did the media fail to report the facts as facts?

Hari Om has one regret — that he had assured Muslims that by giving a reprieve of 7-8 hours in the curfew on January 29, he would ensure that the Muharram tradition was not disturbed. However, the moment he was removed, Rashid was killed to celebrate it as Adityanath’s victory and the curfew was extended. Tazias remained where they were. The Muslims kept their word, he did not. This young officer has just one question for his country: can a community feel at home where it is prevented from even mourning by all kinds of machination? Can a community celebrate its existence in a country where law-keepers look over their shoulders when it is attacked? Such is the sad story of Uttar Pradesh, the truth of one of the many riots that were not.

A leaf from the illustrious life of the CM of Uttar Pradesh

Account of a ten year old story: Helps you understand the CM of UP.

What happened in the eastern Uttar Pradesh town was not a conflict but violence unleashed by MP Yogi Adityanath and his henchmen 

Yogi Adityanath


If one tries to understand the developments in Gorakhpur and its neighbouring areas of eastern Uttar Pradesh (Poorvanchal) from January 26 to 31, 2007 through the eyes of the print and electronic media, one moves further away from the truth. It is a sordid story of a highly communalised media conjuring up a riot, collaborating with BJP MP Yogi Adityanath, a Bal Thackeray clone and heir to the Gorakhnath Peeth operating from the Gorakhnath temple. Adityanath is a BJP MP for ‘technical’ reasons and cares a damn for the niceties of party discipline because he knows that the party cannot dissociate itself from him. Though he mocked the party by holding a Vishwa Hindu Maha Sammelan at the same time as the BJP’s National Council meet in Lucknow, the party did not mind. It had earlier swallowed the defeat of its candidate in the Assembly election by Adityanath’s candidate. One should know that he is a Thakur; and a Thakur heads the BJP now. The Thakur spread across party lines ensures that Adityanath is allowed to have his own way in his fiefdom, i.e. Poorvanchal. He makes it a point to give calls for a Gorakhpur bandh whenever the chief minister visits the town.

Also read: “Kill 10 Muslims for Murder of Every Hindu” – Among CM Yogi Adityanath’s Choicest Words

'Poorvanchal mein rahan hai to Yogi-Yogi kahna hoga' (You have to chant Yogi’s name if you want to live in Poorvanchal) is a slogan popularised by his gang. But how true is the claim of his hold on Gorakhpur, leave alone Poorvanchal? He has lost all local elections held recently in and around Gorakhpur, and could only manage to lure the relatively respected Samajwadi Party (SP) member and mayoral candidate Anju Chaudhary to his side.

Apparently, Chaudhary fell a victim to the myth spun around him during the last 15 years. Adityanath has been called the Yuvak Hindu Samrat, Narendra Modi of Poorvanchal, the premier of the Hindu Rashtra of Poorvanchal. He has used the wealth of the Gorakhnath Temple to sustain his army of lumpen youth. Adityanath has followed the RSS methodology in creating organisations with different names that he calls cultural bodies. Among these are Hindu Yuva Vahini, Sri Ram Shakti Prakoshtha, Gorakhnath Purvanchal Vikas Manch, Hindu Mahasabha and Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh. Adityanath himself is the main functionary of these unregistered outfits. He also controls much of the functioning of the Bajrang Dal and the Hindu Jagran Manch. He holds his durbar in his temple that is attended by local police and officials.

Adityanath has perfected his technique of manufacturing riots. An insignificant incident like a Hindu’s clothes getting stained accidentally by the paan spat by a Muslim is turned into an act of humiliation of Hindus. A rape in which the victim is dalit and the perpetrator Muslim is used to substantiate the allegation that “Muslims rape our women” and all hell is let loose on the Muslims. The last 11 years are witness to several such acts. No criminal case has been registered against him except once in 1999 when a case was registered against him in Maharajganj after the killing of the official gunman accompanying sp leader Talat Aziz. The police and administration have remained mute spectators with the political leadership looking the other way. All this has given him an air of invincibility. Muslims have been given to understand that neither the Bahujan Samaj Party, nor the sp is willing to rein him in. Perhaps the SP is seeking to counter Mayawati’s Brahmin card with its own Thakur card by indulging him. The Congress is nowhere and also lacks a will to take him on. All this leaves the Muslims here with no option but to resign themselves to their fate.

This time, however, his plans went awry. On the night of January 26-27, Pankaj Rai, a history-sheeter, and his gang chased a dance party performing at a marriage. They mingled with a Muharram procession and the processionists thought that they were being attacked. Suddenly a gunshot was heard, which the then administration thinks was Rai’s act. As panic set in, more people — both Hindu and Muslim — were beaten up and a young man, Raj Kumar Agrahari, was badly injured and hospitalised. The District Magistrate (DM) was informed at 1.30am and he told officials to brief Adityanath that he should not visit the site. Initially, the MP agreed. But as Agrahari died, Adityanath declared that now he would go to the spot and seek revenge for the killing of a Hindu by Muslims. He reached the spot with his lumpen who destroyed a mazhar. He declared his resolve to ensure justice for the Hindus, swords were flashed before the dm and senior police officers. Short of policemen, the administration tried to persuade the MP to vacate the place but he didn’t budge.

When the now-determined dm took the dagger away from a goon, they charged towards him and demanded the dagger back. Upon this, the dm ordered the police to disperse them by force. Suddenly the MP found himself facing a situation that was not in the script. Afraid that the lathis might find Adityanath, his well-wishers cried out for compromise. The MP demanded that curfew be imposed and withdrew. Though the dm didn’t think a curfew was required as the violence was designed to disrupt Muharram, he agreed to the MP’s demand.

Later, however, Adityanath announced a torchlight procession. The administration succeeded in preventing it from moving but it was captured on camera and a non-procession was turned into one by the willing media. Emboldened, he announced a Shraddhanjali Sabha the next day at the town’s busiest crossroad. By this time, the dm had resolved not to allow it any further as the police reinforcements were in. He issued orders that no meeting was to be allowed and that any violator was to be arrested. With unambiguous orders, the police moved. Adityanath dismissed the warning as a hollow threat but landed in an unforeseen situation.

He and his ‘followers’ were taken to the police line. Soon, a police van arrived and the detained people were asked to board the jail-bound vehicle. Adityanath jumped into the bus, declaring that he cannot leave his followers. To their surprise, the bus started moving and they realised that they were in trouble. The three-km journey to the jail took more than 90 minutes as his goons pelted stones and every other means to block the van but to no avail. For the first time in his life, Adityanath is jailed under Section 151A of the crpc only to find later that he has also been booked under Sections 146, 147, 279, 506 of the Indian Penal Code for leading the attack on the mazaar (grave). On the strength of this fir, Adityanath is remanded to 14-day judicial custody.

On January 29, his followers assembled at Gorakhnath Temple that falls in an area where more than 50 percent of the population is Muslim. They start throwing stones and burning tyres in the direction of the Muslim locality and on the road. But there is no retaliation from the other side.

Dr Hari Om, the then dm in-charge, wishes to put it on record that not a single incident of slogan-shouting or stone-pelting was resorted to by Muslims. He wants the world to know that although much grieved by the decision to impose curfew as it hampered Muharram, the Muslims, led by the venerable Miyan saheb, assured the administration of all cooperation as peace was more important and kept their word. Meanwhile, the media kept screaming that Gorakhpur was burning, the walls of the Gorakhnath Temple were demolished. Which, of course, was a naked lie.

And all of a sudden, the district magistrate was informed that he’s been shunted along with the superintendent of police. As he moved away, Rashid, a Muslim youth, was killed. It is a matter of discussion in Gorakhpur that it was done by a Hindu Yuva Vahini man who injured himself to use it as a cover. Newspapers flashed the pictures of the Yuva Vahini man’s bandaged leg, obliterating the killing of Rashid altogether.

So where was the riot, as imagined by the interested media, asks Hari Om. From January 27 to 29, Adityanath and his goons laid siege to Gorakhpur without any provocation from Muslims. A mazhar was gutted, masjids and shops of Muslims destroyed, government properties damaged by the gangs, stone pelting on the police by his goons: do these make a perfect riot? A riot involves some degree of involvement of two warring groups. How is it that areas with substantial Muslim population did not experience any untoward incident barring the planned attacks of Adityanath’s gangs? Why did cm Mulayam Singh Yadav remove the officers who jailed the BJP MP who was hell-bent on destroying peace? Why did the officers’ successors go straight to Adityanath for forgiveness? Why did the media fail to report the facts as facts?

Hari Om has one regret — that he had assured Muslims that by giving a reprieve of 7-8 hours in the curfew on January 29, he would ensure that the Muharram tradition was not disturbed. However, the moment he was removed, Rashid was killed to celebrate it as Adityanath’s victory and the curfew was extended. Tazias remained where they were. The Muslims kept their word, he did not. This young officer has just one question for his country: can a community feel at home where it is prevented from even mourning by all kinds of machination? Can a community celebrate its existence in a country where law-keepers look over their shoulders when it is attacked? Such is the sad story of Uttar Pradesh, the truth of one of the many riots that were not.

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Sabrang

“A new communal Equation is evolving in West Bengal, TMC Cadre during the Day are VHP Activists at Night”

26 Oct 2016
Communal riots erupted in at least five towns in West Bengal during Durga Puja processions which coincided with Moharram this year. As worrisome as its spread across several districts was the intensity of the violence. Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and chief minister Mamata Bannerjee was quick to condemn the violence, calling “communal terrorism”. But Suvojit Bagchi, the bureau chief of The Hindu in Kolkata who visited one of the trouble spots, Hazinagar, uncovered the disturbing fact that many who are TMC cadre during the day turn into rabid VHP activists at night.

As Bagchi points out, communal conflagrations do not occur suddenly. It takes time, it takes planning. It has multiple reasons which unfold over weeks, months and years. What has changed in the state which has had a long history of being riot-free under successive Left Front governments? Individuals with specific interests work as a catalyst, while political parties use such individuals.

Sabrang India spoke to Bagchi who sees clear signs of a new communal equation emerging in West Bengal.


West Bengal riot
Representational Picture. Image credit: India.com

SabrangIndia (SI): How many places were affected by recent communal tension?

Suvojit Bagchi (SB): Difficult to say. Received phone calls from many towns and villages and seen many reports on social media and video blogging sites. But I will refrain from naming the places as I have not visited the areas. However, I spoke to people who could be trusted and they have confirmed severe communal tension in four places– Chandannagore from Hooghly district, Kharagpaur in West Medinipur,  Hazinagar in North 24 Paraganas and Chachal in Malda districts .

SI: What is the scale and nature of damage?

SB: Again I will not conjecture on the nature and scale of damage as long as I have not visited or met the people in the area. It is particularly important as the state government has said that a section of the media is publishing “distorted reports.” So we need to visit these places. Two weeks after the flare up from October 11-15, I have managed to visit only one of the places twice - Hazinagar in North 24 Paraganas.

SI: What have you witnessed there?

SB: Much of it is published in The Hindu. But there are many angles to it which can be explored in further detail as you know a communal clash cannot occur suddenly, like a road accident. It takes time, it takes planning. It has multiple reasons – which unfold over weeks, months and years. Individuals with specific interests work as a catalyst, while political parties use such individuals. However, political parties may also fan tension between communities for very particular political requirements. So multiple issues come to play and you can only touch the surface in a two-day visit.

One factor was interesting in Hazinagar. The list of rioters provided to me by the leaders of Trinamool Congress features many local level leaders or even municipal councillors of the TMC. They are TMC in the morning and organise programmes for the Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) at night. Prabhat Khabar – a leading Hindi daily – published a small story in its October 3 edition naming many such local leaders and councillors of TMC who organised Hanuman Chalisa distribution programme for the VHP recently. This tiny information says a lot about today’s Bengal… that the civic body councillors are overtly engaging with an outfit which has a very clear agenda. This perhaps tells us how the politics of Bengal is changing and (changing) fast.

SI: You named one such person… Pradeep Pashi.

SB: I did. I was very keen to meet him as well but could not so far. This gentleman was close to CPI-M at one point of time. Now he is publicly with the TMC and he led the riots. Everybody in the area confirmed that Pashi led the scuffle in many areas. Now all the parties – especially CPI-M and TMC – tell me that he is an “anti social.” But Pashi was always an anti-social who engaged with the ruling parties whenever it suited him. Actually there is nothing surprising as that is how it works in the country. Now he realises that it suits him to be with TMC in the day and to lead a riot at night for right-wing outfits… he is doing that. His name, however, was not mentioned in the report of the Hindi daily.

SI: Are you suggesting that TMC led the riots?

SB: I won’t say that. TMC means Mamata Banerjee and it also means that they do have a secular credential. They have addressed many issues which have given some relief to the minorities. Many boys and girls of the Muslim community told me that they felt “empowered” as they are not unnecessarily hounded by the state and experience small pleasures like visiting shopping malls. I’m not saying that it did not happen in CPI-M’s time – but a section of the Muslims, if not the entire community, loves the chief minister, which is not a bad thing in today’s India.

Perhaps they also liked Jyoti Basu and often say – especially these days – that they did not have any communal tension during Basu’s time. TMC is aware that they have a solid Muslim vote base and thus they can’t afford to antagonise them either.

But TMC also did things which gave confusing signals. For example, one may ask why it is so important for the top leadership to so actively engage with anything that is religious – for all the communities – constantly mixing religion with affairs of State or politics. Why is that important? Now, if the State continuously engages with everything that is religious then the people perhaps start thinking that they can do anything in the name of religion and get away with it.

In Bengal the State perhaps needs to de-link itself with all religion a bit while ensuring law and order especially during the time of festivals. But it is challenging because the rise of BJP at the national level has changed many things in Bengal.

SI: How?

SB: I was talking to Piyush Ghosal. He was CPI-M’s zonal committee member, worked in the same area – Hazinagar – for many years and knows the area very well. He said something interesting. He said – which I quoted in The Hindu – that there was communal tension earlier too, during their time. In fact, in the 1990s a Koran was set on fire in Hazinagar and it was a very difficult time. But CPI-M could diffuse it as the organisation was remarkably powerful. All the MPs and MLAs and councillors belonged to them. Much like it is now for the TMC – they have 22 of the 23-member board in the local municipality. But many of them – as I said earlier – work for VHP or other Hindu outfits. CPI-M had an organisation, which did not have leaders with dual identity, and thus they could control sensitive situations quickly. TMC has an issue with its organisation.

But the other advantage (of CPI-M) is also significant. Historically they did not ever experience a buoyant BJP in the state, in the backdrop of a very strong BJP at the national level. This rise of BJP has impressed millions in India and there is no reason to think that the Bengali middle-class is not part of it. There is another issue.

There are many in the state who have come from East Pakistan and later Bangladesh. Like my family during Partition. Many of these people are covertly communal. They are Bengalis, they were part of CPI-M and even their top leaders, but they never publicly expressed any anti-Muslim bias. Because they knew that the party does not approve it. So the Bengalis, especially those who came from Bangladesh, had two opposing identities. They were communists and they were the people directly affected by Partition. The size of this population is huge. I do not know the percentage but I will not be surprised if these people (with roots in East Pakistan/Bangladesh) make up 35-40 percent of all Bengal’s electors, three to four out of nearly 10 crore people. I’m not saying majority have an issue with the minority but perhaps the majority has a problem.

Now, this Bengali community and the Bengali Hindus in general have engaged in this year’s communal tension. I quote Piyush Ghosal, from The Hindu report: “There were serious crises during our (CPI-M’s) time but now it is more complex as it is not restricted to non-Bengali Hindus and Muslims. The Bengali Hindus and Muslims have also got polarised. A new communal equation is evolving in West Bengal.

SI: What about the violence in other parts?

SB: Major violence occurred due to nearly the same reason related to Durga immersion or Moharram procession. But then I have not visited those areas and would not comment till I visit the areas.

SI: You have named one Abdul Gani Khan, against whom there were allegations of engaging in large scale violence.

SB: Yes. There are allegations against some of the Muslim community men who attacked Hindu houses. But in Hazinagar, I have witnessed, it was not triggered by the Muslims. Certain groups wanted to take out a procession through a road in Muslim community area which was an issue for last two years. Earlier the communities had an unwritten understanding that a procession would not be taken out through that road while the Muslims were not allowed to slaughter cows in the area. Now this understanding was violated initially by the Hindu groups. It is very evident. The Hindu leaders said that there was “no such agreement”, while the Muslims say that there was. Independent sources say that there was an “unwritten understanding.”

I have been accused of giving the point of view of the Muslims. This is not correct. If I could be convinced that Muslims triggered it, or that Muslims started slaughtering animals first, I would have written so. But honestly Muslims who are in a minority in Hazinagar won’t have the gumption to slaughter cow in an area surrounded by Hindus. Even now they would not do that or even think of doing that, though cow slaughter is not banned in the state. Moreover, many times over last two years Hindu groups tried to take out procession through the area which heightened the tension. The Hindu groups only told me so.
However, there was an element of aggressive Muslim element in the area and – interestingly – they also belong to Trinamool Congress.

SI: What does it mean for TMC?

SB: Many things. On one hand they need to first find out more about these elements with dual identity – TMC in morning and rabid Hindu at night – and fix it. It’s not like being both TMC and Congress or even TMC and CPI-M. TMC is in power, or for that matter any political party is in power in Bengal owing to its large Muslim vote base which I think exists. So, if that Muslim vote base is affected due to the activities of a ‘rabid Hindu-TMC’ mix, they have much reason to worry. Even if a section of it moves to Leftist-bloc it would lead to a triangular fight, affecting TMC.

Secondly, there is a Bengali-non Bengali polarisation on religious lines which Ghosal indicated. Any polarisation is bad. It is worse for Bengal as the state’s business community is represented largely by the non-Bengali community who are in the state for hundreds of years. I do not think that it would be reasonable to have a Marathi-non Marathi kind of a politics in Bengal. It won’t help anyone and the state would suffer. It is another fault line which TMC needs to address and its difficult.

Thirdly, a friend said that the other day that BJP’s rise could be “permanent” in Bengal. Largely owing to frustration related to many things. TMC needs to engage more with people to address these general frustrations. They are not getting alienated from the people but they are not doing very well either on many fronts.

SI: But will this polarisaton only harm the TMC? Can it gain as well?

SB: That’s the trickiest question. Communal flare-up occurs due to “multiple factors.”  I have returned to Bengal (been here for the past 2 years) after being away for 12 years. I have witnessed a controlled communal practice and it has helped TMC. For example, the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Both TMC and the BJP turned very hostile against each other. Mamata Banerjee and the PM targeted each other personally. And we found that TMC got 34 of 42 Lok Sabha seats and BJP got unprecedented votes – 17 percent, a record. Extreme politics on both sides helps both BJP and the TMC marginalising the middle-of-the-road voices. This is more helpful for the TMC as BJP is yet to be a major force in the state. But if BJP grows another five percent, with concentration of votes in parts of the districts, TMC will have reason to press the panic button. In fact they already have pressed, if I am not misinterpreting the situation.

Chief minister has called the flare up “communal terrorism”. Moreover, she has asked her cadre to unite against communal forces in the state. Perhaps she is also aware that TMC cadres are partly leading this riot. Whatever it is, it’s evident that TMC leadership is not very happy about the recent flare up.

SI: Is there any Bengali middle class, Bengali intelligentsia, resistance against such events?

SB: Not that I know of. However, a CPI-ML team has come up with a fact-finding report which I’m yet to see. I can see some activity of the Hindu right and the Left on social media, though. 


 

“A new communal Equation is evolving in West Bengal, TMC Cadre during the Day are VHP Activists at Night”

Communal riots erupted in at least five towns in West Bengal during Durga Puja processions which coincided with Moharram this year. As worrisome as its spread across several districts was the intensity of the violence. Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and chief minister Mamata Bannerjee was quick to condemn the violence, calling “communal terrorism”. But Suvojit Bagchi, the bureau chief of The Hindu in Kolkata who visited one of the trouble spots, Hazinagar, uncovered the disturbing fact that many who are TMC cadre during the day turn into rabid VHP activists at night.

As Bagchi points out, communal conflagrations do not occur suddenly. It takes time, it takes planning. It has multiple reasons which unfold over weeks, months and years. What has changed in the state which has had a long history of being riot-free under successive Left Front governments? Individuals with specific interests work as a catalyst, while political parties use such individuals.

Sabrang India spoke to Bagchi who sees clear signs of a new communal equation emerging in West Bengal.


West Bengal riot
Representational Picture. Image credit: India.com

SabrangIndia (SI): How many places were affected by recent communal tension?

Suvojit Bagchi (SB): Difficult to say. Received phone calls from many towns and villages and seen many reports on social media and video blogging sites. But I will refrain from naming the places as I have not visited the areas. However, I spoke to people who could be trusted and they have confirmed severe communal tension in four places– Chandannagore from Hooghly district, Kharagpaur in West Medinipur,  Hazinagar in North 24 Paraganas and Chachal in Malda districts .

SI: What is the scale and nature of damage?

SB: Again I will not conjecture on the nature and scale of damage as long as I have not visited or met the people in the area. It is particularly important as the state government has said that a section of the media is publishing “distorted reports.” So we need to visit these places. Two weeks after the flare up from October 11-15, I have managed to visit only one of the places twice - Hazinagar in North 24 Paraganas.

SI: What have you witnessed there?

SB: Much of it is published in The Hindu. But there are many angles to it which can be explored in further detail as you know a communal clash cannot occur suddenly, like a road accident. It takes time, it takes planning. It has multiple reasons – which unfold over weeks, months and years. Individuals with specific interests work as a catalyst, while political parties use such individuals. However, political parties may also fan tension between communities for very particular political requirements. So multiple issues come to play and you can only touch the surface in a two-day visit.

One factor was interesting in Hazinagar. The list of rioters provided to me by the leaders of Trinamool Congress features many local level leaders or even municipal councillors of the TMC. They are TMC in the morning and organise programmes for the Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) at night. Prabhat Khabar – a leading Hindi daily – published a small story in its October 3 edition naming many such local leaders and councillors of TMC who organised Hanuman Chalisa distribution programme for the VHP recently. This tiny information says a lot about today’s Bengal… that the civic body councillors are overtly engaging with an outfit which has a very clear agenda. This perhaps tells us how the politics of Bengal is changing and (changing) fast.

SI: You named one such person… Pradeep Pashi.

SB: I did. I was very keen to meet him as well but could not so far. This gentleman was close to CPI-M at one point of time. Now he is publicly with the TMC and he led the riots. Everybody in the area confirmed that Pashi led the scuffle in many areas. Now all the parties – especially CPI-M and TMC – tell me that he is an “anti social.” But Pashi was always an anti-social who engaged with the ruling parties whenever it suited him. Actually there is nothing surprising as that is how it works in the country. Now he realises that it suits him to be with TMC in the day and to lead a riot at night for right-wing outfits… he is doing that. His name, however, was not mentioned in the report of the Hindi daily.

SI: Are you suggesting that TMC led the riots?

SB: I won’t say that. TMC means Mamata Banerjee and it also means that they do have a secular credential. They have addressed many issues which have given some relief to the minorities. Many boys and girls of the Muslim community told me that they felt “empowered” as they are not unnecessarily hounded by the state and experience small pleasures like visiting shopping malls. I’m not saying that it did not happen in CPI-M’s time – but a section of the Muslims, if not the entire community, loves the chief minister, which is not a bad thing in today’s India.

Perhaps they also liked Jyoti Basu and often say – especially these days – that they did not have any communal tension during Basu’s time. TMC is aware that they have a solid Muslim vote base and thus they can’t afford to antagonise them either.

But TMC also did things which gave confusing signals. For example, one may ask why it is so important for the top leadership to so actively engage with anything that is religious – for all the communities – constantly mixing religion with affairs of State or politics. Why is that important? Now, if the State continuously engages with everything that is religious then the people perhaps start thinking that they can do anything in the name of religion and get away with it.

In Bengal the State perhaps needs to de-link itself with all religion a bit while ensuring law and order especially during the time of festivals. But it is challenging because the rise of BJP at the national level has changed many things in Bengal.

SI: How?

SB: I was talking to Piyush Ghosal. He was CPI-M’s zonal committee member, worked in the same area – Hazinagar – for many years and knows the area very well. He said something interesting. He said – which I quoted in The Hindu – that there was communal tension earlier too, during their time. In fact, in the 1990s a Koran was set on fire in Hazinagar and it was a very difficult time. But CPI-M could diffuse it as the organisation was remarkably powerful. All the MPs and MLAs and councillors belonged to them. Much like it is now for the TMC – they have 22 of the 23-member board in the local municipality. But many of them – as I said earlier – work for VHP or other Hindu outfits. CPI-M had an organisation, which did not have leaders with dual identity, and thus they could control sensitive situations quickly. TMC has an issue with its organisation.

But the other advantage (of CPI-M) is also significant. Historically they did not ever experience a buoyant BJP in the state, in the backdrop of a very strong BJP at the national level. This rise of BJP has impressed millions in India and there is no reason to think that the Bengali middle-class is not part of it. There is another issue.

There are many in the state who have come from East Pakistan and later Bangladesh. Like my family during Partition. Many of these people are covertly communal. They are Bengalis, they were part of CPI-M and even their top leaders, but they never publicly expressed any anti-Muslim bias. Because they knew that the party does not approve it. So the Bengalis, especially those who came from Bangladesh, had two opposing identities. They were communists and they were the people directly affected by Partition. The size of this population is huge. I do not know the percentage but I will not be surprised if these people (with roots in East Pakistan/Bangladesh) make up 35-40 percent of all Bengal’s electors, three to four out of nearly 10 crore people. I’m not saying majority have an issue with the minority but perhaps the majority has a problem.

Now, this Bengali community and the Bengali Hindus in general have engaged in this year’s communal tension. I quote Piyush Ghosal, from The Hindu report: “There were serious crises during our (CPI-M’s) time but now it is more complex as it is not restricted to non-Bengali Hindus and Muslims. The Bengali Hindus and Muslims have also got polarised. A new communal equation is evolving in West Bengal.

SI: What about the violence in other parts?

SB: Major violence occurred due to nearly the same reason related to Durga immersion or Moharram procession. But then I have not visited those areas and would not comment till I visit the areas.

SI: You have named one Abdul Gani Khan, against whom there were allegations of engaging in large scale violence.

SB: Yes. There are allegations against some of the Muslim community men who attacked Hindu houses. But in Hazinagar, I have witnessed, it was not triggered by the Muslims. Certain groups wanted to take out a procession through a road in Muslim community area which was an issue for last two years. Earlier the communities had an unwritten understanding that a procession would not be taken out through that road while the Muslims were not allowed to slaughter cows in the area. Now this understanding was violated initially by the Hindu groups. It is very evident. The Hindu leaders said that there was “no such agreement”, while the Muslims say that there was. Independent sources say that there was an “unwritten understanding.”

I have been accused of giving the point of view of the Muslims. This is not correct. If I could be convinced that Muslims triggered it, or that Muslims started slaughtering animals first, I would have written so. But honestly Muslims who are in a minority in Hazinagar won’t have the gumption to slaughter cow in an area surrounded by Hindus. Even now they would not do that or even think of doing that, though cow slaughter is not banned in the state. Moreover, many times over last two years Hindu groups tried to take out procession through the area which heightened the tension. The Hindu groups only told me so.
However, there was an element of aggressive Muslim element in the area and – interestingly – they also belong to Trinamool Congress.

SI: What does it mean for TMC?

SB: Many things. On one hand they need to first find out more about these elements with dual identity – TMC in morning and rabid Hindu at night – and fix it. It’s not like being both TMC and Congress or even TMC and CPI-M. TMC is in power, or for that matter any political party is in power in Bengal owing to its large Muslim vote base which I think exists. So, if that Muslim vote base is affected due to the activities of a ‘rabid Hindu-TMC’ mix, they have much reason to worry. Even if a section of it moves to Leftist-bloc it would lead to a triangular fight, affecting TMC.

Secondly, there is a Bengali-non Bengali polarisation on religious lines which Ghosal indicated. Any polarisation is bad. It is worse for Bengal as the state’s business community is represented largely by the non-Bengali community who are in the state for hundreds of years. I do not think that it would be reasonable to have a Marathi-non Marathi kind of a politics in Bengal. It won’t help anyone and the state would suffer. It is another fault line which TMC needs to address and its difficult.

Thirdly, a friend said that the other day that BJP’s rise could be “permanent” in Bengal. Largely owing to frustration related to many things. TMC needs to engage more with people to address these general frustrations. They are not getting alienated from the people but they are not doing very well either on many fronts.

SI: But will this polarisaton only harm the TMC? Can it gain as well?

SB: That’s the trickiest question. Communal flare-up occurs due to “multiple factors.”  I have returned to Bengal (been here for the past 2 years) after being away for 12 years. I have witnessed a controlled communal practice and it has helped TMC. For example, the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Both TMC and the BJP turned very hostile against each other. Mamata Banerjee and the PM targeted each other personally. And we found that TMC got 34 of 42 Lok Sabha seats and BJP got unprecedented votes – 17 percent, a record. Extreme politics on both sides helps both BJP and the TMC marginalising the middle-of-the-road voices. This is more helpful for the TMC as BJP is yet to be a major force in the state. But if BJP grows another five percent, with concentration of votes in parts of the districts, TMC will have reason to press the panic button. In fact they already have pressed, if I am not misinterpreting the situation.

Chief minister has called the flare up “communal terrorism”. Moreover, she has asked her cadre to unite against communal forces in the state. Perhaps she is also aware that TMC cadres are partly leading this riot. Whatever it is, it’s evident that TMC leadership is not very happy about the recent flare up.

SI: Is there any Bengali middle class, Bengali intelligentsia, resistance against such events?

SB: Not that I know of. However, a CPI-ML team has come up with a fact-finding report which I’m yet to see. I can see some activity of the Hindu right and the Left on social media, though. 


 

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Gujarat: Communal Clashes in Vadodara over Weekend

03 Oct 2016

According to eye witnesses, stone pelting ensued after a brick was hurled at a Tazia procession undertaken by local Muslims near Koyali Faliya area of Fatehpura in the walled city. Police then hurled tear gas cells at the mob. The Internet Ban imposed by the police did not work

 Vadodara communal clash
Photo Courtesy: Indian Express

VADODARA: Vadodara, sensitive from having had several bouts of communal violence, was witness to one more as clashes erupted at Kotiyarknagar near Panigate on Sunday,October 2, Gandhi Jayanti, compelling the police to open fire in air. The conflict began when the Muharram Tazia procession was attacked: a brick was hurled at the processionists. Teargas shells were lobbed to disperse the mobs that gathered after a man was stabbed on Waghodia Road on Sunday afternoon.

The city has seen a series of incidents since Septmeber 29, that is over four days. One person was reportedly stabbed in Champaner Gate even as the city police struggled to maintain peace in the communally sensitive areas that have been witnessing rioting since last Thursday. Two more SRPF companies were deployed to contain the situation, police said. The administration then tried to control matters by blocking internet services but this too did ot work.

Communal violence had erupted in Yakutpura, Panjrapole, Fatehpura and Kumbharvada on Thursday after some derogatory posts about a religion were put on social networking site Facebook. The police department's step of suspending mobile internet services and bulk text messages didn't help much as riots kept spreading from one area to other on Saturday night. City police commissioner, E Radhakrishna had cited rumour-mongering as the reason behind suspending mobile internet services. With police struggling to quell riots, Director General of Police P C Thakur had to rush to the city and hold a meeting with senior police officials, the Times of India reported.

Thakur was forced to hold a meeting at 2am near Mandvi Gate in the city. While situation appeared normal on Sunday morning, when trouble began in Kotiyarknagar in noon when Shailesh Rajput, a tea-vendor was stabbed at Kala Darshan crossroads. Rajput was stabbed in the back by some unidentified persons who came on a motorbike. He was rushed to SSG Hospital and admitted to the ICU.

Soon after, mobs belonging to both predominant communities gathered at Kotiyarknagar and started pelting stones. Policemen fired one round in air and lobbed teargas shells to disperse the mob. Tension prevailed in Wadi, Fatehpura, Yakutpura and Gendigate.State finance minister Nitin Patel also rushed to the city and attended a peace committee meeting organized by the police department. "We have identified persons involved in rioting and the process to arrest the accused is on. We have formed several teams to investigate the cases and nab the accused," Radhakrishnan told TOI.

According to eye witnesses speaking to the Times of India, stone pelting ensued after a brick was hurled at a Tazia procession undertaken by local Muslims near Koyali Faliya area of Fatehpura in the walled city. Soon, groups from both communities came face to face and attacked each other.
 
Several units of the city police also rushed to the site to calm the situation. A senior officer said, “The incident occurred after 10:30 pm when a Tazia procession was passing close to a Hindu neighbourhood. Locals claim that a miscreant hurled a brick at the procession and the misunderstanding led to a clash. However, due to prompt police action and heavy rains simultaneously, the crowds dispersed and the situation was brought under control.”
 
 

Gujarat: Communal Clashes in Vadodara over Weekend

According to eye witnesses, stone pelting ensued after a brick was hurled at a Tazia procession undertaken by local Muslims near Koyali Faliya area of Fatehpura in the walled city. Police then hurled tear gas cells at the mob. The Internet Ban imposed by the police did not work

 Vadodara communal clash
Photo Courtesy: Indian Express

VADODARA: Vadodara, sensitive from having had several bouts of communal violence, was witness to one more as clashes erupted at Kotiyarknagar near Panigate on Sunday,October 2, Gandhi Jayanti, compelling the police to open fire in air. The conflict began when the Muharram Tazia procession was attacked: a brick was hurled at the processionists. Teargas shells were lobbed to disperse the mobs that gathered after a man was stabbed on Waghodia Road on Sunday afternoon.

The city has seen a series of incidents since Septmeber 29, that is over four days. One person was reportedly stabbed in Champaner Gate even as the city police struggled to maintain peace in the communally sensitive areas that have been witnessing rioting since last Thursday. Two more SRPF companies were deployed to contain the situation, police said. The administration then tried to control matters by blocking internet services but this too did ot work.

Communal violence had erupted in Yakutpura, Panjrapole, Fatehpura and Kumbharvada on Thursday after some derogatory posts about a religion were put on social networking site Facebook. The police department's step of suspending mobile internet services and bulk text messages didn't help much as riots kept spreading from one area to other on Saturday night. City police commissioner, E Radhakrishna had cited rumour-mongering as the reason behind suspending mobile internet services. With police struggling to quell riots, Director General of Police P C Thakur had to rush to the city and hold a meeting with senior police officials, the Times of India reported.

Thakur was forced to hold a meeting at 2am near Mandvi Gate in the city. While situation appeared normal on Sunday morning, when trouble began in Kotiyarknagar in noon when Shailesh Rajput, a tea-vendor was stabbed at Kala Darshan crossroads. Rajput was stabbed in the back by some unidentified persons who came on a motorbike. He was rushed to SSG Hospital and admitted to the ICU.

Soon after, mobs belonging to both predominant communities gathered at Kotiyarknagar and started pelting stones. Policemen fired one round in air and lobbed teargas shells to disperse the mob. Tension prevailed in Wadi, Fatehpura, Yakutpura and Gendigate.State finance minister Nitin Patel also rushed to the city and attended a peace committee meeting organized by the police department. "We have identified persons involved in rioting and the process to arrest the accused is on. We have formed several teams to investigate the cases and nab the accused," Radhakrishnan told TOI.

According to eye witnesses speaking to the Times of India, stone pelting ensued after a brick was hurled at a Tazia procession undertaken by local Muslims near Koyali Faliya area of Fatehpura in the walled city. Soon, groups from both communities came face to face and attacked each other.
 
Several units of the city police also rushed to the site to calm the situation. A senior officer said, “The incident occurred after 10:30 pm when a Tazia procession was passing close to a Hindu neighbourhood. Locals claim that a miscreant hurled a brick at the procession and the misunderstanding led to a clash. However, due to prompt police action and heavy rains simultaneously, the crowds dispersed and the situation was brought under control.”
 
 

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