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Bareilly To Hyderabad :…AND THE RIOTS PERSIST, by Syed Ali Mujtaba, 21 April 2010 Print E-mail

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New Delhi, 21 April 2010

Bareilly To Hyderabad


By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Communal riots have become part and parcel of the Indiansocial life. The birth pangs of the country were on the throes of communalriots. The history of the last sixty years or so to a section of the society,who has been on the receiving end of communal riots, is nothing but a historyof wanton destruction of lives and properties.

The irony is, the psyche of the countrymen has become immuneto such development that there is little effort either from the government ofthe day or the civil groups to stop such well-planned and well-orchestratedcommunal mayhem in the nation that swears by the word peace, unity indiversity, peaceful coexistence and such blah, blah…. 

The year 2010 so far has witnessed two communal riots, onein Bareilly a small city in Uttar Pradesh, theother in Hyderabad,the capital of Andhra Pradesh. While the incidence of communal violence in Bareilly is rare, Hyderabadremains on the seismic zone of communal flare-ups.

The genesis of the Bareillyriot was the Bara-wafaat procession taken out by the Muslims on the occasion ofthe birthday of Prophet Mohammad. This was on 2 March when a small group ofMuslim boys not more than 30, were going to join the main procession and theypassed through a Hindu locality. They were challenged and hot words wereexchanged and this followed a volley of bricks making the boys bleedprofusely.  The fact that the bricks insuch huge quantity were kept on roof tops suggests that some planning must havebeen done before the flash point

However, the group of boys somehow made it to the mainprocession, which characteristically was not a procession where some thousands gathered,but of much smaller in numbers who after seeing their co-religionist bleeding retaliatedby burning shops which was indiscriminate. Unlike the popular belief that it wereonly the Hindu shops which were torched, the fact remains that there were manyMuslim shops too which were completely burned down. 

This resulted in the clamping down of curfew, and after sixdays when every one thought it would finally be lifted, the administrationarrested the powerful Sunni Muslim cleric Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan, theNational president of powerful Ittehad e Millat (IMC) on charges of incitingtrouble. 

Bareilly is a great seat of Barellvi sect ofthe Sunni Muslim Schooland the Maulana is no baby sheep. The arrest made the supporters of Maulana tosit on dharna, demanding his unconditional release. This time the numbers were around30, 000 and these kept increasing with each passing moment. In spite of suchlarge numbers the supporters displayed remarkable discipline and none reportedto have done anything negative, except peacefully sitting in Satyagrah for over 30 hours.

In was after three days that Maulana Tauqeer was releasedfrom jail on March 11. His supporters after hearing the news of the release starteddispersing peacefully to their homes. However, at this moment the goons of the BajrangDal and the BJP reportedly started attacking the unarmed returning Muslims in whichtwo sustained severe cut injuries by sword.  At the same time the belligerent mob got busyvandalizing, looting and burning Muslim-owned shops and property.

This continued unabated for two days and the police andparamilitary forces had a tough time containing them.  It was only by March 15, when the curfew waslifted after two weeks that the city limped back to normalcy.

On the other hand, the riots in Hyderabad city are a basket case of communal clashes.It is once again the same old story where the State apparatus has failed topreempt the situation and only bolted the doors when the horses had fled!  

The riot in Hyderabadhad its origin in the rabble rousing speeches at the Vishwa Hindu Parishadconference on 24 March. This led to the filing of cases against those provokingviolence against the minority community.  And, it happened three days before thebreakout of actual violence that took place on Hanuman Jayanti day on 30 March.

Hanuman Jayanti, a festival that was hitherto celebratedwith relative simplicity in Hyderabadcity saw an unprecedented mobilization of crowds by the Hindu extremistorganizations that blanketed the entire city with Saffron flags. Thebelligerence of the Saffron brigade was at the height when they provocativelyplanted Saffron flags and other Hindu religious symbols on Mosques, Churchesand similar other religious sites.   

The provocation was enough for retaliation from the fearfulcommunity and according to reports it was a free-for-all where three lives werelost and 90 people left injured. The police arrested 272 two suspects, most ofthem Muslims, imposing curfew within the jurisdiction of 25 police stations ofthe city. It took several days for the situation to come back to normal andpeace restored.

In both the cases, Bareillyand Hyderbad, the role of the State administration was clearly dubious. It isunfortunate that both the State governments allowed the riots to unsettle thestate of communal harmony and did little to pre-empt the situation. In both thecases, the Hindutva groups were reportedly the main culprits and agentprovocateurs in destabilizing communal harmony and provoking religiousviolence.

The general public had begun to sense the communal tension butnot the administration that has intelligence gathering apparatus. It seems thepolice intelligence agency were either oblivious to the fact or deliberately remainedsilent.  

Importantly, these copy book cases of communal riots in thecountry have been recurring in pauses each year for the last 60 years or so. Nota single year passes when there are no communal riots in India. On arough estimate there could be an average three to five riots each year. Stillno one in this country gives a damn about it. Everyone forgets about it whenthings get normal after some fire fighting exercises, till it recurs again.This sounds bizarre but it is true.  

Ask those who have been reeling under violence, terror andcurfew. Imagine living under the looming shadow of uncertainty, danger and thethreat of violence and the State imposed restrictions under curfew. What kindof wound it may inflict on the minds of the sufferers? 

Clearly, it leaves on wondering how long this madness willbe allowed to perpetrate by the collusion of the State and Central governments.Are they not responsible for producing Jihadis in this country? It’s a murkygame where one first produces the Jihadis, and then goes after them.

The irony is that each one of us gets carried away by thesymptoms and none cares of thinking of the ways and means to control thedisease. The biggest, stakeholder in this, the State, seems to be wavering inits commitment to uphold the secular credentials that’s guaranteed in our Constitution.  

At the end, a mere regular investigation is ordered to probethese riots and what it would come up with. Another step may be a judicialprobe of these incidents. But is that sufficient to get to the real storybehind the riots? Even if we are able to get one, will that avoid further lossof life in yet another riot on yet another pretext?  Your guess is as good as mine! ---INFA


(Copyright,India News and Feature Alliance)

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