EXCLUSIVE: Are Varanasi police trying to create communal tension?

While citizens are trying to protect themselves from the on-going health crisis, Muslim communities have condemned police for fabricating Hindu-Muslim conflict, claim Bhojubeer residents

Running out of patience with city police for allegedly inducing communal violence, residents of Varanasi’s Bhojubeer area protested outside the district headquarter on May 17, 2021. Around 100 to 150 people, including many women, from the Muslim community gathered on Monday, and condemned the district administration and police for noting a fight between cricket-playing children as an instance of communal violence in the region.

As per an FIR eventually filed by the minority community members, a Muslim child was beaten following an argument about a nearby playground on May 12. The child’s parents approached the other party’s family to discuss the issue. However, the situation resulted in stone-pelting by both sides. At the time, the complainant refrained from lodging a formal complaint.

He said he hoped to resolve the issue through dialogue. Instead, he learnt that the local police already filed a case citing the incident as an example of communal violence. Members of the Muslim community protested police action that allowed the issue to take on a communal colour.

Speaking to SabrangIndia Communist Party of India – Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML) member Manish Sharma said the Bhojubeer was the latest target of such fabricated-communal instances following complaints in Saraiya, Rajapura areas. All these regions have a majority of socially-disadvantaged groups.

While Bhojubeer residents wanted to avoid lodging an FIR, they eventually complained formally on Monday after three Muslim men from their area were arrested. Other men in the community are reported to be absconding after police barged into their houses to arrest people without a warrant.

In a video on social media, Muslim women talk about the harassment suffered because of the police who barge into their rooms without consent.

“There wasn’t a single lady constable when they came in. They just came and took away our cars and property. Moreover, I am not talking about two or three policemen but a large group of people,” said one of the girls present during the police raid.

Similarly, Sharma said, “This attitude of the police is not a local matter. This is happening all over Varanasi. Now in Bhojubeer, they’re talking of past false incidents to give the FIR some backing.”

Over the past six to eight months, communal tension in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency has intensified. Minority communities complain of unilateral police harassment wherein petty arguments like fights during Holi are immediately registered as communal fights. People also condemn the district officials for their lax attitude towards such events.

To hear the police’s side, SabrangIndia contacted the City Superintendent of Police to ask about the Bhojubeer incident but did not receive a response. Meanwhile, locals repeatedly question the police’s intention in undertaking such actions.

On Monday, protesters submitted a memorandum providing their side of the argument and demanding the release of the three men arrested during the unwarranted police raid.


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