Communal Violence in India during 2019 — a brief report

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By Dr. Nazia Khaleeque

The year of 2019, was the anxious year for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), because of the next Lok Sabha elections and simultaneously the series of unexpected losses in recent state elections. These electoral losses have little to do with a backlash against right-wing Hindu nationalism.

Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence stated in his report which was presented before the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, that “India may face communal tension before the Lok Sabha elections in May 2019. The 17th Parliamentary elections in India increase the possibility of communal violence if BJP stresses nationalist themes.”

He presented it during the Senate meeting with other members like as CIA Director Gina Haspel, who has just returned from a trip to India in January, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Defence Intelligence Agency Director Robert Ashley.

He told before the committee that “BJP policies during Modi’s first term have deepened communal tensions in some BJP-governed states, and Hindu nationalist state leaders might view a Hindu-nationalist campaign as a signal to incite low-level violence to animate their supporters.”

At national level researcher observes same views regarding this communal threat such as Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge criticised the Narendra Modi government, alleging that “communal forces were raising their head, weaker sections were being suppressed, the freedom of speech was being snatched and women and children were not feeling safe.” Indian lawmaker Shashi Tharoor has also hinted at Communal Violence in India ahead of general elections 2019. He said that “Indians will have to brace for unpleasantness in the coming months, as the ruling elite could stoke communal tensions for electoral gains.” He further said that “I think we have to brace ourselves for some more unpleasantness in the months to come because there has been a correlation, in the not so distant past, between the advent of elections and the stoking of religious passions, communal rioting. That’s indeed my worry.”

At last, Dan Coats’s fear and Shashi Tharoor’s worry for India comes in the form of Pulwama attack. On 14 February 2019, a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber at Lethpora in the Pulwama district, Jammu and Kashmir, India. The attack resulted in the deaths of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and the attacker.

The incident immediately triggered geopolitical tensions between India and Pakistan.

But in the political battlefield of India’s effect of it was different.

Commenting on the political situation post-Pulwama attack, foreign brokerage CLSA wrote in a note to clients that certain patriotic songs have become quite popular in rural UP through social media, and depending on how the geopolitical situation evolves; it might have a bearing on the elections.

Opposition parties also blamed BJP for this attack. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati said, “The ruling BJP should not have indulged in politics after the Pulwama terror strike…The worried 130-crore people have seen as to how the BJP could not desist from indulging in petty politics even at such a time and they have now realised that country’s honour and security is not in strong and safe hands.”
The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko alleged BJP and said, BJP used the terrorist attack for political gain. Highlighting that BJP leader and former Chief Minister of Karnataka B.S. Yeddyurappa stated that the attack will help the party in winning more seats in the Lok Sabha elections, Mr Vaiko questioned if it was the view of just Mr Yeddyurappa or that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well.

Senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Ram Gopal Yadav, also accused the BJP by commenting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi of perpetrating the Pulwama terror attack for votes. He said the Modi government “killed” security personnel to serve its political interests.
National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah stirred a hornet’s nest when he accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being behind the Pulwama attack as he was desperate to win elections.

On communal violence point of view the year 2019 did not see any big riot, but no one may think the year was communal violence-free. Union Ministry of Home Affairs in February 2018 has revealed that communal violence under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by the BJP increased 28% over three years to 2017 — 822 “incidents” were recorded that year — but it was short of the decadal high of 943 in 2008.

According to the analysis, Uttar Pradesh (UP) — the most populous state in the country — reported most incidents (1,488) over the last decade. Kasganj in western UP witnessed communal violence on January 26, 2018, in which a 22-year-old Chandan Gupta was killed after being hit by a bullet.

In 2018, there were 31 incidents on cow-related violence all over India. It had 57 victims which also led to 13 deaths. Among all the reported incidents, 21 attacks were in BJP ruled states, according to India Spend fact-checker on cow-related violence.

The month of July 2018, alone, 29 people have been lynched by bloodthirsty mobs on suspicion of child-lifters or cow smugglers. The victims were assaulted with no evidence of child lifting was found later. There were some people were killed on suspicions of robbery.

The 104-page report by the New York-based group examines the Hindu nationalist vigilante attacks and said 36 of the dead were members of India’s large Muslim minority. About 280 people have been injured in more than 100 attacks between May 2015 and December 2018.

Here researcher is going to analyse certain main incidents of communal violence during the year of 2019.

The first communal violence incident was found in the city of Patna i.e. in Bihar. Nearly 120 km from Patna, the town of Rosera was trying to make sense of an outbreak of violence. On the evening of March 25, 2019, more than 200 people held a Durga immersion procession — a routine, peaceful annual event.

Within the next 24 hours, violence broke out – there was stone-throwing, attempted burning of mosques and one policeman was grievously injured. Multiple townspeople were injured in intense stone-pelting between two communities. All three of the town’s mosque bore signs of damage and burns.

The opposition has pointed to a pattern of the BJP inciting crowds in Bihar as violence has spread to at least five districts. The locals, who witnessed the events, have made similar allegations.
Multiple eye-witnesses have claimed the trigger was the throwing of footwear on the procession as it crossed a mosque. A local resident Bhola Sahu who claims that someone from their Muslim community was responsible for it.

The secretary of the mosque Mohammad Fareed Ali Ansari said the throwing of the footwear was an isolated incident, and could not be a reason to attack an entire community.  A section of the locals has told the police that members of the local BJP unit and right-wing groups are responsible for escalating the issue.

In Bhagalpur, also afflicted by rioting, the police first booked, and eventually arrested Arijit Shashwat, son of BJP’s Union Minister Ashwini Choubey, for leading a mob. In Aurangabad, Anil Singh, a BJP worker was amongst those arrested. He later escaped from police custody, according to reports. Fifty shops near Jama Masjid located on Old GT Road were torched by rioters and more than 60 persons, including 20 policemen, were injured in stone-pelting.
Six days later, Rosera is still tense. The internet has been shut down till April 1 and traders have shut shops indefinitely. “We try opening the shops but people from the Bajrang Dal come and ask us to shut shop,” said Mehdi Hasan, a resident of the village. However, the administration has imposed a curfew and controlled the situation.

Bihar Home Secretary Amir Subhani, said while talking to Newsclick about the spate of communal violence from March 25 to 30 in Bihar that partially tore apart a society known for a peaceful co-existence. He further said that “We are living in a volatile or maybe even an explosive situation,” He also said the police are also part of the volatile society, indicating its complicity in the riots that began from Bhagalpur and engulfed eights more districts – Munger, Samastipur, Gaya, Siwan, Aurangabad, Nawada, Kaimur and Siwan – within few days.

It is that city which suffering from communal situation brutally since 2017, in this year there were 85 such incidents in the state in which three people were killed and 321 injured.

Next Communal Violence began in Viramgam town of Ahmedabad district on Sunday, March 31. Some members of the Muslim community objected to women from another community drying clothes on an under-construction wall around a burial ground which led to the clash, Ahmedabad (Rural) Superintendent of Police RV Asari said. Two people sustained found fractures and seven others sustained minor injuries in this incident.

However, the police brought the situation under control by firing tear-gas shells and arrested some persons. Tight security was deployed in the area.

Next riot took place in Rajasthan i.e. in Vyapariyon ka Mohalla in Soorsagar on the occasion of Ram procession. A communal clash broke out on Saturday i.e. on 13th April, when a section of Muslims threw stones on a Ram Navami procession. Some vehicles were set on fire and mobs stoned houses and clashed with police that leads to injuring of two cops in Vyapariyon ka Mohalla in Soorsagar police station.The area around Soorsagar had witnessed some clashes three days ago when clashing youths damaged a motorcycle. Some claimed that the clashes over the procession were an extension of the earlier clash which police did not handle properly.

On Saturday, some people attacked the house of a Hindu family. The members of the family alleged that the police failed to turn up in time despite their repeated calls to the control room.
Police said the clashes that broke out during a Ram Navami procession delayed their arrival at the house. The mob also stoned a police vehicle and even set vehicles on fire. Police have detained several people in the matter. But the situation was controlled by the administration.

In Rajasthan, 91 incidents of riots were recorded in 2017, in which 12 were killed and 175 injured. In 2018 too state has faced the same situation on the same occasion and on the same time.

Next riot erupts in U.P city Agra on Monday 1st July. Police and PAC personnel had a tough time controlling to the mob that was about 500 men who forced traders to shut their shops in Agra’s communally sensitive area Sadar Bhatti in protest lynching of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand. The incident occurred at around 10.45 am after nearly 2500 residents of Mantola, Nai Ki Mandi and Kotwali police jurisdiction offered prayers at Jama Masjid and took out a protest march over the lynching incident without getting permission from the local administration.

Taking advantage of the gathering, some miscreants attempted to create a ruckus and disturbed the peace in the area. They are forcing traders to shut their shops. However, when the businessmen resisted, the uncontrollable mob started pelting stones and tried to vandalise nearly 30 shops. At last, situation controlled by the police and become able to maintain the peace.

By following the same rally or protest march against it create tension in Meerut also. A few thousand people had gathered at the Faiz-e-Aam College grounds on Sunday on the call of Yuva Sewa Samiti president Badar Ali to peacefully protest against the killing of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand by a Hindutva mob. Addressing the gathering on Sunday, Meerut’s Shahar Qazi — a titular position conferred on a respected community elder — spoke of peace and communal harmony. The gathering gave a memorandum to the District Magistrate and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP).

While going back to their homes, a few youths raised slogans. The police replied with lathi charge on the crowd.
On 17 June 2019, 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari was attacked by a lynch mob in Jharkhand, India. He was tied to a tree, brutally beaten and, was forced to chant Hindu sayings “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”, which translates from Hindi to “hail Lord Ram” or “Victory to Lord Ram”.

Protest against the lynching of Tabrez Ansari was far more widespread than the impression conveyed by the media, which has either focussed on those in which the participation of people was extraordinarily high, such as the one in Malegaon, or those that sparked off communal tension or led to police action, such as in Meerut and Agra in U.P and Surat in Gujarat. In Ranchi, Jharkhand, an anti-lynching protest triggered an incident of confrontation between Hindus and Muslims but did not spiral out of control.
Ajaz Ashraf examined that the media have failed to capture the geographical spread of protests against the lynching. For instance, few know of protest rallies in Bhatkal and Vijayapura in Karnataka, Mau and Jaunpur in U.P and Mewat in Haryana. Just about every town in west U.P is said to have witnessed protests against the lynching of Ansari.

Next riot occurred in Rajasthan city Jaipur’s Walled City area on Sunday night i.e. on 18th August which turned into full-blown riots on Monday night in which over a dozen people including police officers had been injured due to stone-pelting. Many vehicles had been damaged as well. The violence continued Tuesday night as well between the communities with at least five cars damaged and half a dozen people injured. Police had to use tear gas during this instance of violence.
According to officials, the reason for this sudden spate of violence was that youth of one community was allegedly beaten a few youths of another community. A case was registered in that matter and the violence which followed was a reaction to that incident. From Monday night, after the violence erupted late night, the internet services were shut-down in areas of ten police stations in the city and on Tuesday section 144 was imposed in areas of 15 police stations. Police arrested 122 accused of communal violence.

Next riot once again erupted in Agra on Wednesday 17th September owing to a communal flare-up after a girl was allegedly kidnapped on Tuesday by a boy from another community. The police said both were minors and preliminary investigations revealed they knew each other.

According to the available information, a Class 9 student of Semra village in Khandauli was abducted by youth of another community who was in love with her. When the news spread in the village, a crowd of over 250 villagers from the girl’s community attacked the shops and houses of the boy’s community – spreading terror in the entire village. They were armed with batons, club sticks, guns, iron rods and stones. Nearly 15 small shops and food carts owned by the men of other community were set ablaze and heavy stone pelting was done. There is an immense sense of terror among the residents. At least three men were also injured with minor bruises,” said a source of Saimra village.
Bihar once again faced communal violence. Communal violence flared-up on Thursday in Jehanabad on 10th October. Trouble began in the morning when a stone was thrown at the procession being taken out for immersion of idols near the Arwal More. The devotees blamed by-standers belonging to another community for the same after which both sides indulged in heavy stone-pelting which had left death of one person and 14 people injured. Several shops in the area were set on fire by the rampaging mobs and the situation was brought under control after prohibitory orders were issued invoking Section 144 of CRPC, heavy deployment of forces was put in place. District Magistrate Naveen Kumar confirmed and wounds received by three others in the violence. The Administration has invoked Section 144 as a preventive measure and warned of tough action against trouble makers. Additional security forces have been deployed and patrolling has been intensified.

The month of November 2019 was having a historic day i.e. on 9th November, on this day the Supreme Court is going to give a final decision on historical and religious trouble case the Babri Masjid vs. Ram Janambhoomi. The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court is likely to pronounce judgment at 10:30 am. All states and Union territories across India have been put on high alert as the Centre and the state governments are reaching out to the public to maintain peace and calm if the judgment is not in their favour.

All liquor and arms shops will be closed across UP on November 9th and 10th because of the Ayodhya verdict. Section 144 imposed from midnight (November 9th) till further orders, in entire J&K. Also, no schools or colleges in J&K on Saturday, says Department of Information and Public Relations, J&K govt. In Mumbai social media was monitor. Mumbai Police and other security forces were on alert. Cameras, drones were also to be used to monitor the situation in city. Dy CM Manish Sisodia advises all private schools in Delhi to remain closed today. An extra company of RAF (Rapid Action Force) has been called to Aligarh, police on alert and all mobile internet services also suspended. Apart from UP, section 144 has also been imposed across J&K and Bengaluru city in Karnataka. Schools and colleges have also been ordered to remain shut in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi and other states.
DGP IG of UP Prisons has issued a notice to all jail officers and staff to remain alert and be in constant touch with the concerned district administration for any support/needful action required and issued a notice as:
“Keep a vigilant eye on the reaction of the inmates and ensure that there is no communal strife/violence in Jails. Strict vigil should be maintained immediately and stern action is ensured against such elements lodged in jails who attempt to spread communal disharmony.”
Especially UP was on high alert. Ayodhya in UP has been put under a thick blanket of security. Apart from the regular security at the disputed site, the Centre has rushed in 4000 paramilitary personnel and 30 bomb squads. All dharamshalas in Ayodhya have been instructed to shut down and all non-locals have been asked to leave the city.
The Supreme Court Judges of India were given Z+ security cover and heavy security deployed around the Supreme Court.

In short, the situation was on high tense because history shows that this disputed land is a blood land of innocent. However, the final judgement in the Ayodhya dispute was declared by the Supreme Court of India peacefully. The Supreme Court of India ordered the disputed land (2.77 acres) to be handed over to a trust (to be created by Government of India) to build the Ram Janmabhoomi (revered as the birthplace of Hindu deity, Ram) temple. The court also ordered the government to give an alternate 5 acres of land in another place to the Sunni Waqf Board to build a mosque.

This judgment in a broadway has accepted by all except some political parties. The Situation in India due to high alert was remained calm and peace.
Next communal issue comes in the form of National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) bills. NRC is a register maintained by the Government of India containing names & certain relevant information for identification of all genuine Indian citizens. The register was first prepared after the 1951 Census of India and since then it has not been updated till recently.
The CAB provides for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the norm currently, even if they do not possess any document. According to this all people who live in this land should have to prove that either they or their ancestors were on or before March 24, 1971.

The opposition reacted on it and said the CAB encircles Muslim identity by declaring India a welcome refuge to all other religious communities. It seeks to legally establish Muslims as second-class citizens of India by providing preferential treatment to other groups. This violates the Constitution’s Article 14, the fundamental right to equality to all persons. This basic structure of the Constitution cannot be reshaped by any Parliament. And yet, the government maintains that it does not discriminate or violate the right to equality. However, the President gave his assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, on December 12, a day after it was passed by the Rajya Sabha.

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court against it and the whole nation waited for hearing on January 22. Simultaneously nation is a flare-up in against of it since it comes in highlight. The first fire of agitation and violence was seen in Assam and slowly and gradually it covers the whole nation. Assam was on edge in 2019, a year that saw rumblings of discontent and violent protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the NRC exercise tremors of which were felt across the country. The protests against the amended Citizenship Act have led to violent clashes at many places including the Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Uttar Pradesh. Police actions in the Jamia, JNU and AMU campuses led to more protests in other universities and places in Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Bihar and at international level also. Exclusion of Muslim immigrants from the purview of the amended Citizenship Act has led many Opposition parties, activists and Muslim groups to accuse the Narendra Modi government of targeting the community to further its Hindutva agenda.

The Citizenship Amendment Act protests, also known as the CAA and NRC protests, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and National Register of Citizens protests, or the CAB and NRC protests, are a series of ongoing protests in India, against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). Assam is witnessing one of the worst violent protests by the public in its history after the government passed the Citizenship Amendment Act. Already four persons have lost their lives in firing by security forces in Assam. At least 16 people have been killed in violence during anti-CAA protests in Uttar Pradesh. The state police said over 260 security personnel were also injured, of whom 57 suffered gunshot wounds.

The protests have resulted in thousands of arrests and 27 deaths as of 4 January 2019 from UP, Karnataka and Assam. Two 17-year old minors were among those reported to have been killed due to police firing live ammunition on protesters in Assam. All three states were ruled by BJP. UP was found the worst affected state with the biggest police crackdown in India.

Due to these all question arises that what’s going on in our nation? The aim of the government or politics is not this, as the government of India doing. The Plato and Aristotle the father of politics never talk about such politics and government. Even they said the real and actual citizen who is, those knows politics and participate in its activities seriously. But our politician declaring them as a terrorist and attacking them by their forces just for the sake of political power. Our democracy is been suffering from challenges.

In above all over the discussion researcher can say that Indians faced a very crucial time in this year.

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