by Muslim Mirror Staff
The Uttarkashi police in Uttarakhand, India, have filed a First Information Report (FIR) following the display of posters in Purola town on Monday. These posters contained threats directed towards Muslim traders, demanding their departure from the area by June 15. The issuance of these provocative posters occurred subsequent to a violent protest that took place due to the elopement of a girl.
The posters, which were affixed to the shutters of numerous shops, referred to Muslims as “Love Jihadis” and issued a warning of severe consequences if they failed to vacate the area before the scheduled Mahapanchayat (a large community gathering) planned for June 15.
The poster further included a threatening message stating, “If you don’t oblige, time will tell what is going to happen.” It is important to note that Muslims currently operate approximately 30-40 shops in the main market of Purola.
In response to the posters, the police took prompt action and registered a First Information Report (FIR) at Purola police station. The FIR has been filed against unidentified individuals under Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups based on religion, race, place of birth, residence, language), 505 (making statements aimed at causing public mischief), and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
“Our focus is on identifying the individuals responsible for the posters displayed in the Purola main market. On Monday, we lodged an FIR against unknown individuals for promoting hostility among different groups and issuing threats to a specific community, in accordance with the appropriate sections of the Indian Penal Code,” stated K.S. Chauhan, the station house officer of Purola.
A few days ago, there were reports of protests taking place in Barkot, where members of Hindutva outfits allegedly attacked shops and houses belonging to Muslims. Surprisingly, the police have not taken any action against the individuals responsible for these acts.
The campaign against Muslims began when a girl, accompanied by some men, attempted to elope on May 26. As a result, the police arrested two individuals: a 23-year-old motorcycle mechanic named Jitender Saini and a 24-year-old named Ubed Khan.
Hindutva outfits seized upon this incident and started targeting the religious identity of one of the accused, referring to it as a case of “Love Jihad.”
On May 29, a protest march was organized in Purola, which turned violent when the protesters attacked shops and establishments owned by Muslims. Similarly, on June 3, another protest took place under the banner of Yamuna Ghati Hindu Jagriti Sangathan, with nearly 900 participants.
Additionally, during the protests, the demonstrators submitted a memorandum to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) requesting the verification of individuals who come from outside to engage in business activities within the town.“In the garb of doing businesses in the town, some people from a particular community have been indulging in immoral activities… thereby, polluting the atmosphere,” the memorandum said.
Since May 29, several shops owned by Muslims have remained closed in Barkot.
“A verification drive of all Muslim traders and shopkeepers should be conducted. Those who are delinquent types shouldn’t be allowed to stay in the town. Others can operate freely,” media reports quoted Brij Mohan Chauhan, president of the Purola Vyapar Mandal, as saying.
Due to the communal tension and the incidents of violence targeting Muslims, some members of the Muslim community in Barkot have made the difficult decision to leave the area and relocate to other places. Saleem, a 35-year-old garment shop owner, for example, has temporarily moved to his brother’s house in Dehradun. He expressed concerns about the prevailing communal tension and decided not to immediately return to Barkot.
“If they want us to leave the ‘Pahad’ (hills), the authorities should compensate us for the properties owned by us,” he was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying.
A delegation of Muslim traders in Barkot took the initiative to meet with the Parula Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) and handed over a memorandum expressing their concerns. The memorandum emphasized the urgent need for security and safety measures to be implemented by the local administration. The traders highlighted that they have been unable to conduct their business for the past 10 days due to the prevailing situation. The atmosphere of fear and insecurity among Muslims in the area is evident, exacerbated by the lack of strong assurances from the police regarding their protection.
According to Dainik Jagran, Raees, a clothes trader in Barkot, stated that Muslims are united with the police and other traders in their efforts to combat criminal activities.
“But we should be given security so that we can run our business freely,” he said.