Report Unearths the Roots of Muzaffarnagar Riots
A fact-finding team from Act Now for Harmony And Democracy bears witness to the ongoing violence in UP
Souzeina Mushtaq Delhi
“I went to the hospital and had to pull the body of my dead father out of a lot of other bodies, which were lying on top of each other. His head was injured with a sharp weapon, and he had sharp wounds on his neck. He was slashed from ear to ear but I have not told my mother that,” says Sajid, one of the survivors of the recent communal riots in Muzaffarnagar in UP. The attack, which civil society groups say was “meticulously planned” claimed more than 50 lives, and displaced thousands of others.
Claiming the violence in Muzaffarnagar is based on the “Gujarat Model”, Shabnam Hashmi said, “the preparation for a large scale violent eruption was on for quite some time to dislocate minorities. […] Communal forces are marching on, trampling the Constitution of the country, and the secular forces are either mute or play defensive politics.” A report on Muzaffarnagar violence, titled, Evil stalks the land, was released on Tuesday, September 24, at Indian Women’s Press Corps in Delhi. Hashmi was one of the 24 members of the fact-finding team who visited the riot-hit areas in Muzaffarnagar in UP on September 22–23.
Tracing the roots of the recent violent clashes between Muslims and Jats in UP to as early as 2010, Naushad Ahmed Khan, lawyer and human rights activist, said RSS had been quite active in parts of western Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand. According to him, a group of 10 –15 young men recruited by RSS to spread hate were involved in the systematic and organized incidents of eve-teasing. “The method was simple — use a skull cap to eve tease a Hindu woman, and wear Kalawa while eve teasing a Muslim woman in Burqa,” he said. The incident prepared ground for spreading the notion of a ‘love jihad’ by the RSS, “to make the two communities suspicious of each other".
The team also noted that the initial stories of eve teasing on August 27, which led to the killing of three boys — Shahnawaz, Gaurav and Sachin — were wrong. In fact, an altercation between the three had turned violent. The 34-page report also documents the Maha Panchayat of September 5 and September 7, organized by RSS and BJP, “where people were openly instructed to come armed".
Refuting the allegations that people burnt their houses for money, lawyer Ramzan Chowdhary said, “The mob was instigated and lead by local leaders of BJP who were instrumental in funding the rioting, killing and arsoning.” Amidst the killing, the report notes that local police failed to provide police protection. “In the presence of police personnel, 14 people were killed in Lisarh village, and all the houses of Muslims were set ablaze.” As the violence broke out, thousands of displaced families fleeing for safety found themselves in makeshift camps or madrassas. The Muslim community runs the camps, and “only after a week, the administration started supplying relief material”.
“The method was simple — use a skull cap to eve tease a Hindu woman, and wear Kalawa while eve teasing a Muslim woman in Burqa.”
The team also documented the stories of women and girls being gangraped. “The exact numbers are unknown, owing to the pressures of the family and community in the name of honour, which stops the women to report cases to the police. Also the administration has been biased and looks at the victims with contempt.” The report in its recommendations suggested a time-bound CBI enquiry into the incident, with arrests of people named in FIRs, among others.
Harkrishan’s son Gajender and other goons surrounded me and raised slogans like “in musalmano ko yaha se nikalo”. Then another man from the village, Rajkumar, said that he won’t let any harm come to them. He would guard them but he fled the spot, and then we got the information that the mosque was burnt. After listening to this we fled from the village. We came near the canal. I had an infant in [my] arms. While running my son fell into the canal and was drowned.
The mob was instigated and lead by local leaders of BJP who were instrumental in funding the rioting, killing and arsoning
After this, Krishan Chand’s son Subhash, Elam Chand’s son Sarvan and many others chased us. While running we called the Pradhan. The Pradhan told us that he won’t help us and would help his Jat brothers instead. We called the police Special Officer, he didn’t answer. Then another boy, Dawood, from our community, called another police officer, he also told him that he would help the Jats, not the Muslims. Dawood is in Kairana now. He also got injured.
While we were running from the goons we were caught and [they] raped us. They were more [than] 8–10 goons. We were gangraped. Somehow we managed to escape from there and called the chairman who rescued [us]. Now we appeal to the government to help us and come to the rescue. We cannot and will not go back to the village. We have been raped, our houses burnt, we will never feel safe again.
'Krishan dealer' set our houses ablaze and also provided oil to the others. Raju Ankit also murdered people and burnt their body.