August 17, 2008

Hindu bombers break myth; Two terrorist arrested

Posted in Hindutva tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:35 am by zarb

Hindu bombers break myth; Two terrorist arrested

Mumbai: Two Hindu “terrorists” were arrested today for allegedly planting bombs at theatres, prompting the Maharashtra chief minister to say this had shattered “the myth” that all bombers came from a particular community.

Ramesh Hanumant Gadkari, 50, and Mangesh Dinakar Nikam, 34, are accused of targeting shows of Ashutosh Gowariker’s film Jodhaa Akbar and a Marathi play that is a spoof on the Mahabharat. They are charged with two blasts that injured several people and an attempted bombing.

Police said the duo were members of the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Jana Jagruti Samiti, organisations involved in protesting “denigration” of Hindu religious icons as in, allegedly, M.F. Husain’s paintings.

“These (the bombings) were definitely terrorist acts as they were carried out by people motivated by an ideology,” said Hemant Karkare, chief of the anti-terrorist squad that nabbed the accused.

“The arrests? have broken the myth that persons belonging only to a particular community are involved (in blasts),” chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said.

Those arrested were produced before the Mazgaon court and sent to police custody till June 24.

According to information collected by the ATS, the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti was formed by Dr Jayant Athawle in 2002. It has protested against three major issues ? paintings of Hindu deities by M F Hussain, the Marathi play Yada Kadachit now called Amhi Panchpute, and the movie Jodhaa Akbar.

“Their sphere of activities extends into the hinterland. While we do not have evidence to directly link them to the Bajrang Dal or the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, they have protested together on occasions,” said Karkare, denying any link between the two accused and the Nanded blast and adding that all three were ‘clearly terrorist acts motivated by ideology’.

The ATS has indicated that more arrests are likely to follow in this case. “Gadkari and Nikam are full-time sevaks for Sanatan for the last three years. Their links with any terror outfit is yet to be established. Nikam taught Gadkari about bomb-making and one of the two bombs was manufactured within the premises of Sanatan Ashram,” said investigating officer B B Rathor. Nikam had provided a detonator and explosives to make the bomb.

The police got the clues from the number of the motorcycle used by the bombers. The licence number was entered in the log book of the Thane theatre’s parking lot. “We have got evidence of their involvement and are looking for at least half a dozen accused in this case,” said Param Bir Singh, additional commissioner of ATS.


July 26, 2008

Communal Riots – 2005

Posted in Riots tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:49 pm by zarb

Communal Riots – 2005

By Asghar Ali Engineer

22 January 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 Modi’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. Beragi’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 Baba’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 Baba’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 weavers’ 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 Jadhav’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.

The author is director, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai. He may be contacted at

Muslims in Mumbai at the Receiving End

Posted in Human Rights, Minorities tagged , , , , , , at 10:37 am by zarb

Muslims in Mumbai at the Receiving End

Abuse and discrimination after the train blasts in Mumbai

The Milli Gazette Online

The 11 July 2006 blasts in suburban railway trains in the western Indian city of Mumbai killed at least 207 people and injured more than 700 according to official sources. No individual or group officially claimed responsibility for the attacks. However, a large segment of the media, the police as well as a number of politicians and Hindu nationalist groups were swift to point the finger at Islamic ‘terrorist organisations’. A leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party declared that “in the Mumbai blasts case, the terrorists were most probably Muslims”.

K.P. Raghuvanshi, head of Mumbai’s Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) in charge of investigating the bombings initially, alleged the involvement of a well-coordinated “big power”. The Mumbai police now claim the involvement of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan.

Muslim leaders strongly condemned the bombings. Nevertheless, immediately in the aftermath of the bombings, about 350 men, mostly of Muslim origin and from Muslim majority areas in Mumbai, were detained overnight by the ATS for interrogation. The suburb of Mahim was especially targeted by the ATS and more than 250 people from the area were detained and interrogated a few days only after the blasts.

A directive was further issued by the government of the state of Maharashtra – of which Mumbai is the capital – calling on the state police to “thoroughly investigate every Muslim who travels abroad”.

Accordingly, police forces carried out a number of investigations, conducting raids without proper legal documents, visiting and questioning several Muslim executives travelling abroad, especially to West Asia, and asking them to provide proof of their travel. In the neighbouring state of Gujarat, where violence against the Muslim community has been more pronounced, and indeed vicious, the state home department asked the police to monitor the movements of certain groups and collect details of the members of the group.

Labelling a community

The harassment and discriminatory treatment even led some to conceal their religious identities, with some Muslim men shaving off their beards and women casting aside their burqas. Heena Kausar, for instance, suffered humiliation and harassment on a public bus. The police stopped the bus she was in for a ‘routine check’ and searched her. “They picked me from all those passengers because I wore a burqa,” she said. “A male constable asked me to lift my veil and then frisked me,” she told reporters. The trend of concealing religious identity is not a new phenomenon in Mumbai. The same phenomenon was seen in Mumbai’s Muslim-majority areas in the aftermath of the 1993 blasts in the city.

In Mumbai and elsewhere, Muslim men were picked up for questioning and often detained for days. Some were reportedly tortured. According to Farhana Shah, a lawyer representing some of those accused in the blasts case, “police high-handedness with Muslims in Mumbai isn’t new.” What is new is “that the community is being seen only through the prism of terror. The result is that when you pick up educated innocents and slap them around for a couple of days, they walk out as different people. It just ends up reinforcing their sense of being persecuted victims.” One of Ms Shah’s clients who was picked up by the police was whipped with a canvas belt and verbally abused. He was released three days later after the police, he said, realised he “knew nothing about the blasts”.

Mumbai Director General of Police P.S. Pasricha was reported as saying: “Yes, we did a lot of combing and questioning just after the blasts. After that, however, we have been very, very discreet.” Police in the northeastern Indian state of Tripura detained 20 Muslim men, including 11 from Maharashtra. Those held had no specific charges against them except that they were found close to the Bangladesh border. Muslim members of Parliament, outraged by the way Muslims were harassed in the name of investigations, asked Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ensure that such abuses were halted. They drew attention to the fact that the basic civil and political rights of hundreds of Muslims had been violated since the beginning of the investigations and that police forces had completely disregarded the requirements to be followed in cases of arrest and detention as laid down by the Supreme Court of India in 1997. The fundamental right of a person who has been arrested or detained to inform a friend or relative was ignored.

A group of nearly 150 Muslim scholars raised its concern during a conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, stressing the danger of the “accused presumed to be guilty” approach adopted by security agencies during investigation as well as the use of the term ‘Islamic terrorism’, thereby accusing the entire Muslim community as “collaborators of evil”. It urged the Prime Minister not to “tar the community with the same brush”. The fact that legal rights have been neglected and human rights violated has increased the sense of victimisation felt by the Muslim community. According to Maulana Mehmood Daryabadi, General Secretary of the All India Ulema Council, it is “as if the police are out to prove that members of only one particular community are terrorists”.

Prime Minister Singh acknowledged a few weeks after the blasts that “terrorism has resulted in certain sections of our population being targeted, with the result that a wrong impression has been created of the radicalization of the entire Muslim community”. He cautioned that while dealing with terrorism, no innocent person should be harassed. If a mistake is made, effective remedial and corrective measures must be taken well in time, he said.

Statements by Hindu nationalist organisations and parties, however, have continued to take a strident, often violent, stand. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) advocating, for instance, has accused madrasas of being “breeding grounds for terror infrastructure” and, referring to a group of radical activists, said they should be “ruthlessly crushed”.

Leaders of the BJP have accused the Indian government of adopting a ‘soft’ stance and have called for the revival of tough anti-terrorism measures such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), which was repealed in 2004. The danger of the reinstatement of POTA lies in the fact that it was used with particular force against the Muslim community after the bombings in Mumbai in 2003.

Following a number of allegations of the police’s misbehaviour during investigations, Mumbai Police Commissioner A.N. Roy sent a letter to Muslim community leaders in September 2006 to reassure them that any police official showing bias against Muslims would be punished. His letter was sent to more than 100 community leaders in an effort to prove the police’s dedication to justice. No innocent would be targeted and in case there were complaints about harassment, Roy assured the community that he as well as other top police officials would meet them personally to redress their grievances: “there is no question of bias against people of a certain community… our investigation machinery has been set up in a way to ensure there is no bias. Still, if there are any holes in this system, we are ready to amend it. Police officials who are guilty of any bias will be punished”.

However, there has yet to be any concrete example of a police official being punished for violations ranging from racist verbal abuse to physical torture.

The silence of the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) is also appalling. The only reaction of the NHRC after the blasts was to issue a notice regarding the difficulties being faced by the next of kin of the deceased and the victims suffering serious injuries. It made no mention of the discrimination faced by the Muslim community or of the violations of human rights committed in the name of investigation, arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions.

Alienation of the Muslim community

As Muslim leaders have warned, this situation has further alienated a community that was already facing marginalisation and discrimination before the blasts. The town of Mumbra, 40 kilometres from Mumbai and having a large Muslim population, was labelled “terror city” as a result of an alleged plot to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in 2004, and has been a refuge for Muslim families fleeing from violence in states such as Gujarat.

However, living in Mumbra also means living with labels. “Yes, we can educate ourselves, but now, especially after the train blasts, who will give us jobs with Mumbra in our address column?” is the main feeling amid Mumbra’s Muslim population. Interviews and testimonies of Muslims living in Mumbai and other places around the country confirm this trend. The resentment and fear are palpable. Police forces meanwhile are stationed in large numbers in these areas.

This feeling of alienation and discrimination of the Muslim minority is particularly dangerous in a country with strong Hindu fundamentalist forces, which have a vested interest in promoting Hindu-Muslim conflict. The anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002 blighted India’s claims of being a tolerant society. The failure of the State was striking – it was not a failure born of incompetence; rather, the evidence pointed to the state apparatus willfully abdicating its duties in favour of pursuing its communal and ideological agenda. The State then failed to mitigate the effects of the horror, dispensing with the necessary measures to restore citizens’ faith in the State machinery – adequate financial compensation for lives and property lost and the quick, fair and efficient trials to bring the guilty to book.

Now, with the community continuing to be the target of discriminatory treatment in the aftermath of the July 2006 blasts, the sense of alienation is bound to increase. In view of the global tendency to categorise Muslims as “terrorists,” it is important that India gives a clear signal to its Muslim minority that it does not take this position. The respect of a minority’s rights is fundamental to secure peace and unity, especially in a country like India that claims to tolerate, value, and indeed celebrate, its multiculturalism. (Human Rights Features)

July 3, 2008

Arthur Road Jail: cruelty on bomb blast accused continues

Posted in Human Rights tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:38 am by zarb


Arthur Road Jail: cruelty on bomb blast accused continues

Mumbai: Whether it is the culprit of Mumbai local Train Bomb Blast or Malegaon Bomb Blast both are still now waiting for completion of their case in judicial custody. Even in prison they are being tortured. Police and ATS are bothering them. Their human rights are being violated and their complaints are being neglected. These were exposed by defense lawyers and relatives of the victims of Bomb Blast. In this regard a young Muslim Mohammed Ali Shaikh resident of Gowandi who was accused of Mumbai Local Train Bomb Blast had filed a complaint in MOCOCA court some days ago.

Mohammed Ali Shaikh had accused ATS officers that they were torturing him to accept the sin frequently. He is being bothered in Arthur Road Jail Too. Police is harassing Mohammed Ali Shaikh’s wife and relatives. It is learnt that police go in mid night to his home and threaten his family. Such complaints were too registered but no heed was paid towards this complaint. Nurul Huda Shamsul Huda a victim of Malegaon Bomb Blast too lodged such complaints that since last 15 months that not only police of Nagpada and Kalachauki but also local crime branch of Malegaon and officers of Azad Nagar police station are torturing him regularly which weakened him mentally and physically. He is suffering regular headache but administrators of Arthur Road Jail is not providing him medical aid. Several complaints of bad behavior with the culprits of Mumbai Local Train Bomb Blast and Malegaon Bomb Blast but the all these complaints are not changing the attitude of authority. Lawyers and relatives of Mumbai Local Train Bomb Blast and Malegaon Bomb Blast made superintend Sawati Sathe responsible for violating the human rights and bad behavior with the victims who are in judicial custody. But so far nothing has changed even after complaints. Recently several accused of Bomb Blasts had filed a case against Sawati Sathe that Swati Sathe targeted victims of bomb blast in the wake of asking, though where hearing is continue is victims’ Jail but in spite of all these reality he was forced to wear the uniform of prisoners. The lawyers and relatives of Bomb Blasts accused that cruelty is going on the victims of Bomb Blast by violating the human rights of culprits in any manifestation. Jail authority and police are birds of a feather flock to gather.

June 2, 2008

Communal riots in 2006 – A review

Posted in Riots tagged , , , , , at 5:11 pm by zarb

Communal riots in 2006 – A review

— By Asghar Ali Engineer

This is as usual our annual survey of communal riots and events during 2006. This was comparatively a year with few riots. In fact post-Gujarat India has witnessed fewer riots. Gujarat was indeed another watershed like the one after post-Babri riots. It has been witnessed that after some major riot, subsequent years witness smaller and fewer riots. Mumbai riots after demolition of Babri Masjid by Sangh Parivar fanatics were also very intense and widespread in 1992-93 in which more than one thousand persons perished. After Mumbai riots there was no major riot with the exception of Coimbatore riots (in which 40 persons were killed) until Gujarat happened.

Gujarat was really earthshaking both in its intensity and in its brutality and direct involvement of state machinery. In fact nothing like Gujarat had happened in post-independence period. Gujarat happened in 2002 and since Gujarat no major riot like it has happened. Such major riots perhaps make even communal forces make so nervous by exposure of media that it takes quite sometime for them to gather courage for next major communal riot. Also, after riots like the ones in Gujarat, 2002, it becomes difficult for communal forces to get people’s support for another one for quite some time. It is also important to note that the next major riot does not usually occur at the same place. For example, after Mumbai riot of 1992-93 next major riot took place in Gujarat, not in Mumbai. Similarly earlier during eighties many major riots took place but subsequent riot never occurred at the same place.

So after Gujarat there has been no major riot so far. During 2006 several small riots took place in different places. The first riot occurred at Baroda on 17th January. Two groups of Hindus and Muslims clashed on some petty matter in which two persons were injured. The police and Rapid Action Force came into action and prevented further trouble. Three persons were arrested.

On 3rd February there were clashes between those going for Friday prayers in Kamalmaula Masjid and Bhojshala temple for worship in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh. The Hindu Jagran Manch, a Sangh Parivar unit has been claiming that Kamalmaula Masjid is a Hindu temple and Dhar has become communally highly sensitive place and clashes occur here frequently. More than 300 Muslims were prevented from entering the mosque to pray and police had to resort to lathicharge and fire teargas shells and impose curfew. Muslims had to pray in a temporary structure outside. Later on curfew was relaxed and Hindus were allowed to perform puja.

Very surprisingly clashes between Muslims and Buddhists occurred in Leh in J&K on 10th February. The mob set ablaze a house at Horay Gonpa in protest against the alleged desecration of Qur’an. 31 persons were arrested in clashes between Muslims and Buddhists. The Qur’an was allegedly kept inside the mosque in Bodh Kharboo in Kargil. Curfew had to be imposed which continued for few days and Army had to stage flag march. Leh, in a sense, is communally sensitive as earlier too clashes had occurred between Muslims and Buddhists.

There were clashes in Muzaffarnagar, U.P. between communities on 17th February during demonstrations against cartoons of the Prophet of Islam. Six persons were injured. The sentiments were inflamed as U.P.’s minister of Haj Haji Muhammad Yaqoob announced reward of 51 crores of rupees for anyone who brings the head of the cartoonist. PAC was posted to control the situation. In Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh also clashes occurred between Muslims and Hindus in which one shop was set on fire and 5 persons were injured on same day i.e. on 11th February in Char Minar and other areas. Hyderabad witnessed similar disturbances again on 24th February when a religious place was desecrated in Karwan locality. The faces of lions installed outside the religious place were found broken. Immediately large number of people collected and began stoning the houses of other community. Police had to resort to lathicharge to disperse the mob.

On 3rd March Lucknow which is not so communally sensitive witnessed communal clashes between Hindus and Muslims in which 4 persons were killed while Muslims were staging demonstrations against Prophet’s cartoons after Friday prayers in Aminabad, Qaiserganj, Latoosh Road when Muslims forced shopkeepers to down their shutters. However, according to Muslim source disturbances started when Khatiks (Hindu slaughterers) stoned Muslims protesting against Prophet’s cartoons. Then firing started from both sides in which 4 persons were killed. Majority of those injured were Muslims. In retaliation Muslims stoned many vehicles and damaged them and set fore to effigies of Bush.

Goa also witnessed communal violence on 4th March when Muslims took out protest march against demolition of a structure used for prayer by the minority community. To save the minority community, police claimed, they were evacuated. The Congress blamed the Hindu fundamentalists for disturbances. The Hindus stoned the Protest march. Then the mob ransacked several establishments and torched vehicles. Police fired in the air when someone attacked inspector Gaad and snatched his revolver. Two persons were injured in the firing. About 100 persons were arrested.

Bangalore saw communal violence on 10th March when dispute started between members of two communities in a Muslim majority area of city on the question of barking of dog. The argument between youths of two communities and 9 persons were injured when stoning started and one person was seriously injured in stabbing. The police brought the situation under control.

On March 26 Baroda witnessed communal violence once again in Fatehpura area. More than 100 persons gathered and stoned in which 6 persons were injured. The dispute between the two communities arose on small matter and soon engulfed the area in violence. Of the injured four were seriously injured and had to be hospitalised.

Aligarh flared up on the eve of Navratri on April 6 and four persons were killed. The two communities indulged in stoning and firing. It was alleged that Muslims removed the decorative lighting of a temple and violence flared up. Then the clash occurred with Muslims in Sabzi Mandi and Daiwali Gali. In fact, some alleged that when a piyao (structure for drinking water) was sought to be used as temple and was decorated with lights on the occasion of Navratri, the dispute started and took violent form. Besides 4 persons who died, 13 were injured of which 6 were in critical condition. Curfew had to be imposed in the area of five police stations.

On April 11, on the occasion of Prophet’s birth day Khandwa was engulfed in communal violence and in Pali in Rajasthan was also affected on this occasion. Twelve persons were injured in stoning in Khandwa. In both the places indefinite curfew was imposed. The police sources in Khandwa said that dispute started when some Muslims removed a Raavi Pandal in Jalebi chowk. In Pali, 10 persons were injured when a procession of Mahavir Jayanti was stoned. Some Muslims objected to procession being taken from Pinjara Mohalla and trouble started.

Thana experienced communal disturbances on 24th April. It is reported that one Muslim was unloading wood from a truck when two Hindu youth objected. However, matter was apparently settled but at night around 10 p.m. some Hindu youth came with swords and attacked Muslim houses. But Bajrang Dal group leader Prakash Ramkumar Yadav claimed that clashes started when he and his father were attacked and injured. But Mahmood Dalvi said he received a phone call from the area and when he reached there Ramprakash Yadav, along with 150 others were attacking Muslim houses. They were saying that we will make this area Gujarat. It was also alleged that when Muslim houses were being attacked the local MLA Eknath Sinde and policemen were silent spectators. Muslims alleged that police was arresting us instead of mischief mongers and attackers. Muslims felt terrorised by Bajrang Dal activists and lack of police support.

On April 25 one person was killed in Bhivandi, a Shiv Sainik, on the question of playing cricket. Four others were injured. It all started with a cricket ball hitting a Hindu woman and Muslim boys refusing to stop playing cricket. They forcibly stopped and slapped the boys. The boys threatened to return and settle score. They, some 30 in all returned with sticks, chains and stumps and attacked Mohan. Mohan later succumbed to his injuries. Police arrested six boys and was looking for 20 others.

Baroda, communally highly inflammable place since early eighties, once again was in flames on May 1st when a three hundred year old dargah of Chishti Rashiduddin was demolished by Vadodara Municipal Corporation which sparked riots in which 4 persons were killed and more than 12 were injured in police firing. Two of the dead had bullet injuries while other two were stabbed. It was demolished as an ‘illegal structure’. How can a three hundred year old dargah be declared as illegal?

Initially there was argument between residents of the locality but matter worsened when police intervened leading to riots which soon spread in different parts of the city. The police failed to disperse the mob by lathicharge and resorted to firing. Later on one Muslim was burnt alive along with his car and when people phoned control room police allegedly said ‘Go to Pakistan’. According to one estimate in all 6 persons died.

On intervention by Kamaluddin Bawa, it was agreed by Muslims that a portion of Mazar could be sliced of for road widening but when Muslims discovered that VMC plans to demolish entire Mazar they protested. The corporators most of whom were from BJP, also maintained that when they could demolish temples why can’t VMC demolish dargah. But they forgot that temples were unauthorised and of recent origin whereas dargah was three hundred years old and could not be called ‘illegal’. Anyway it resulted in serious communal violence resulting in death of six persons. On 18th May dead bodies of two children were found in decomposed state in the dicky of a car belonging to a VHP leader. How heinous crimes these communal fanatics can commit!

Aligarh witnessed another bout of communal violence on 29th May when a BJP leader was murdered and in retaliation two persons were killed. The police further extended the curfew which was already force since last eruption of violence and clamped it in two more areas. Thus curfew was clamped in all five police station areas. Ahmedabad also experienced communal violence after a scooter rider knocked down person of another community near a place of worship. The police resorted to lathi charge and in all 30 persons were injured both in lathicharge and stoning between persons of two communities.

Next communal violence erupted in Karoli, Rajastan on 16th June when at a tea stall a mentally unstable person put cow dung on Qur’an and wrote objectionable things on it and showed it to people. This caused provocation to Muslims who set fire to two Hindu shops besides damaging some stalls. They then marched to collector’s office and submitted a memorandum demanding action against the offender. Some Hindus set fire to an autorickshaw. There were some incidents of stabbing also.

On 18th June there was incidence of communal violence in Goda village in Pratapgarh district of U.P. Two girls were burnt alive after the murder of a Hindu youth by some unknown persons. As the news of Hindu youth’s murder spread hundreds of people poured in Gonda village with weapons and attacked establishment of a Muslim community in Gonda, Baldu and Subedar villages. Over 100 houses were set ablaze in which two girls were charred to death. These three villages border on Pratapgarh and Raebareli districts. Immediate police reinforcements were rushed and situation was controlled. Some 100 persons were arrested. On fourth September Raesen town in M.P. saw eruption of communal violence. Some persons allegedly threw pieces of beef at Jain temple. Hearing this news Hindus began to gather in large numbers and began stoning shops belonging to Muslims and damaging them. The police tried to disperse mob by firing teargas shells and when crowd did not disperse it fired three rounds in the air. Police reinforcements and rapid Action Force was brought to keep situation under control.

Ganpati festival is another occasion for eruption of communal violence. This year on 7th September Rabori area of Thane, near Mumbai and Usmanabad in Marathwada saw eruption of communal violence. In Rabori Muslims and those in the Ganpati procession clashed and began stoning but the police was quite alert and immediately brought the situation under control within 15 minutes.

However, it was more serious in Usmanabad where those in the Ganpati procession began throwing gulal (red powder) at Muslims in an inebriated state. They threw stones at the mosque and several Muslim shops. They also began to set fire to shops and vehicles and broke open some shops. It went on till late at night. It began from Khwajanagar of Shams chowk and continued right up to Samtanagar, near the place where Ganpati is submerged in water. Police arrested 64 persons from both the communities.

Nanded is another communally sensitive town in Marathwada region of Maharashtra. It witnessed communal violence on 29th September when student organisation Chava took out procession against reservation on religious grounds and passed through a Muslim locality and began stoning a mosque and damaged stalls selling iftar (breaking fast) eatables as it was month of Ramadan. These students having support of Shalinitai, a Maratha leader, were carrying lathis and other sharp weapons. They were shouting slogans against Muslims and attacked Abidin mosque near Bank of Hyderabad and damaged stalls selling fruits for Iftar. The vehicle belonging to Chava was full of stones. They were also carrying and waving swords. The police remained silent spectator and did not take any action against students. This procession was taken out when article 144 was in force. But police Dy.S.P. Abdurrazzaq claimed it lathicharged the processionists and arrested 30 of the Chava Organisation.

Mangalore in South Karnataka is highly sensitive area and BJP has its stronghold here. Since the BJP became part of ruling coalition in Karnataka, the communal situation has deteriorated there. The police is playing partisan role and Sangh Parivar members have become quite bold. Mangalore area has history of communal violence. In 1998 Surathkal riots 8 persons were killed and Muslim properties were widely damaged. This time around 2 persons were killed in Mangalore area between October 4 and 7 but also in between hundreds of minor skirmishes took place between Hindus and Muslims.

The communal polarisation has been created by BJP since 1992 when Babri Masjid was demolished and JP has reaped benefits in elections by winning 11 seats in Assembly elections of 2004 from the region. According to T.A. Jhonson of Indian Express “several flashpoints for communal violence have emerged from the issue of transportation of cows in violation of a state law to eve teasing to inter-religious relationships.” Also, the minorities complain of administration’s bias since the BJP became partner in coalition. Ironically the Mangalore district is under the charge of a BJP minister. The rightwing Hindu youth feel that they can get away with anything. Those in 15-25 year age group are cause of frequent violence against Muslims and over-react on issues like cow transportation as they feel no action will be taken against them.

However, Hamid Khan, member of the Muslim Central Committee said that police acted swiftly after outbreak of violence on October 4 and imposed curfew effectively, otherwise situation would have got out of control. The BJP minister Nagaraj Shetty also gave assurance that action will be taken against the guilty “without politics”. The Janata Dal (Secular) which allied with BJP blamed Bajrang Dal and SIMI for violence.

On the occasion of Diwali on 22nd October communal violence erupted in three districts of U.P. Muzaffarnagar, Blandshahar and Ambedkarnagar. In Khalapar region of Muzaffarnagar a firecracker was ignited and dispute started with this between some Hindus and Muslims and violence erupted in which one person was killed and more than three were injured. There was firing from rooftops, which continued for half an hour resulting death of one person. Mulayamsingh declared compensation of Rs.5 lakhs for family of Pankaj killed in the clashes. Another person, a student of 11th class was murdered in Ambedkarnagar and communal disturbances started in which several people were injured including some police officers. Here many shops and houses were also damaged.

From what has been narrated above it can be seen that several small riots take place on small matters like playing cricket or lighting a cracker or someone being knocked down by a scooterist and so on. Why does it assume communal colour? The obvious reason is that communal forces indulge in communal propaganda and poison the minds of people and this continues throughout the year without any respite. This helps create communal mindset and even personal disputes between Hindus and Muslims then acquire communal colour and becomes cause of communal violence.

Communal propaganda going on unceasingly becomes greatest obstacle in smooth relationship between two major communities of India. Unfortunately the governments even in the Congress ruled states do not contemplate any action against such propaganda though there are laws prohibiting such propaganda creating ill will between communities. Not only this, there is pronounced bias in text books taught in government as well as private schools from primary to secondary levels. These text-books also help create polarisation in our country. Education has thus become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

One more thing which we observe from description of riots above that these incidents sparking communal violence do not assume major proportions only because political parties do not perceive any political benefit in spreading communal violence and police curbs violence by taking effective action. However, if politicians perceive any direct benefit they immediately exploit the incidents to create major communal flare up. Thus it is mainly politicians who are responsible for major communal flare up. The violence will be contained if politicians do not want and it will assume major proportions, if they desire communal violence for electoral politics like in Mumbai in 1992 and Gujarat in 2002.

It is only proper awareness among people and active role of civil society actors which can help contain major mishaps. We need aware and vibrant civil society to contain outbreak of major communal violence. When civil society gets polarised on communal lines as in Gujarat, it becomes very difficult for civil society to intervene