3. Ghaziabad Riots
If there can be a more mundane reason for riots kindly inform me, for I will be even more greatly amused than you are going to be after you learn about this particularly nasty piece of handiwork by some merchants of death, for the lack of a better word. The incident began when 3 boys (reports give one of their name to be Rashid / Salman) happen to tumble up on 16 – 18 pages of Quran on which abuses along with a phone number was written upon paragraphs 9 and 10. These boys showed these pages to Hafiz Abdul Gaffar/ Gaffar Hafiz / Abdul Gaffar / Zalil-ur-Rehman / Muti-ur-Rehman (each report gives a different name though the name Gaffar appears predominantly). He gave it to the muezzin of the Rafiqabad masjid, Abdul Qadir. Incidentally Qadir claims in one report that Gaffer gave him the copies, and in another he claims Zalil-ur-Rehman showed him the desecrated pages of the holy book. Then he called the elders of that locality to discuss as to what is to be done and it was decided that the book will be buried as is the practice. The news report says – “Qadir recalled how within minutes of the pages being brought to him, a crowd had gathered outside the masjid. He said – “When I stepped out of the masjid 15 minutes later, several people had gathered asking what had happened. Some people asked me if someone had thrown the pages outside the masjid, while others said they had been found near the tracks.”
By afternoon it was decided that a complaint should be registered with the Masuri police station after the Friday evening prayers. The Imam Qadir claims a group of people, which included only a few he recognised, forced him to take the pages to the police station. “We reached the police station by around 6.30 pm, but it took at least an hour to register a complaint. By then a larger group of people had gathered outside the police station,” Qadir says. One Zalil-ur-Rehman, who claims Abdul Gaffar to be mentally challenged according to a news report [both Rehman and Gaffar have “disappeared” as of now], wrote the complain on behalf of Qadir, who incidentally is now disowning whatever is in the FIR claiming that since he did not know how to read and write, Rehman had written up the complaint and read out a different version of it to him. Though the Inspector asked for custody of the pages, it was not provided and even as to this day the article is being written, the pages are “lost” and no one knows what happened to them. The crowd started demanding the police officers that they should immediately start interrogating the man whose number was written on the pages to which the police responded negatively saying that it can be done only after verifying who the person is. Apparently this triggered the “spontaneous reaction” and a mob of nearly 3000 – 5000 started pelting stones at the police men, blocked the NH 24 , started looting the cars and other automobiles, set ablaze nearly 64 private and public vehicles, abused and even manhandled women passengers of the road (Read a shocking firsthand experience here). Strangely the mob also let free, the criminals lodged in the jail, one of whom was arrested on charges of drug trafficking. To add to this, the investigation report by Masuri administration says, “In a bid to kill a head-constable Roop Chand (who is still critical), the rioters strangulated his neck tightly with a rope. Several policemen were injured with the stones pelted by them.” Another constable is still critical in hospital with a bullet wound. Anyone would naturally start retaliating, and the police resorted to firing to disperse the crowd. There were causalities resulting in the death of 6 people – Hayat (35), Asif (19), Wasim (18), Wahid (18), Amir(16) and Lukman (14) – and about 25 people were injured, 12 of whom are reported to be policemen. One should remember that these were 30 police men who were trapped in a police station by a 3000 – 5000 strong mob armed with “rifles, revolvers and sharp weapons” who had “set a barrack on fire and threw an LPG cylinder in the fire to maximise damage.”
Anyone with a little common sense would be trying to pacify the locality. They would also not blame the police of gross negligence when they have been brutally attacked. A group of 30 facing an armed group of 3000 is a night mare. So we expect leaders all across the political spectrum including Muslims leaders, to condemn this incident and act tough. But secular India is no place for pragmatic approach is it? Hence we have Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, the “young and dynamic” Akhilesh Yadav, who uneasily evades questions of him not being in control of UP by lame jokes, blaming, wait – for –it, the Police Officers, who had delayed the action against the complaint. Akhilesh “felt that had action been taken on time after local residents complained about desecration of a holy book, the flare-up could have been avoided” says one news report.Bordering on absurdity and lack of sympathy the CM said in the presence of state DGP A C Sharma, “Bahut bigra hua police mahakma hai (There is something wrong with the police department”.
Was this absurdity confined to the new CM alone? No. The Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari made the whole incident about Muslim victimhood once again, not even for once pointing out the fact that it was the so- called devout Muslims who had created the ruckus. He claims that he represents the Muslims of India even while constantly creating trouble for the ruling dispensation of UP with “warnings” like “Eighty percent Muslims have voted for the SP this time round and Mulayam Singh can only ignore them at his own peril“and “I had appealed to Muslims to support the SP during the Assembly polls. But it will be a tough call now, I have no answer” and suggestions like “There are a few Superintendents of Police but no Muslim District Magistrate. If there is a paucity of Muslim officials, get them on deputation” and “I was not seeking any alms from the SP chief but was only batting for the community. I am feeling let down as adequate Muslim representation was not given“ in response to his brother being denied a Rajya Sabha ticket from UP. One would wonder if the Imam thinks that Uttar Pradesh civil administration is his personal fiefdom or if he is some famed public policy consultant considering the interventions made by him in administrative issues. It is altogether different issue than another secular leader Azam Khan had declared that the Imam was a non-entity in the Muslim world. This is the same Bukhari who persuaded Muslims not to participate in Anna Hazare movement since chanting slogans like “Vande Mataram” and “Bharat Mata Ki jai” are un-Islamic. This is the same Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari against whom Delhi High Court had issue a non-bailable warrant in connection with a criminal case in which he is accused of rioting, obstructing and assaulting public servants from discharging their duties.
Following is the extract of a news item from Times of India about the response from The Left, Right and Centre of the Political Spectrum.
“The rapidly deteriorating communal situation has, however, drawn no reaction from the political class, a silence seen as linked to Mulayam’s unique position as flag-bearer of the “secular” bloc in future central politics. The violence reiterated the salience of SP in the wake of turmoil over Centre’s decision to allow FDI in retail. The Left and Samajwadis have joined hands in opposing the move that could wipe out native retailers. Mulayam, who once again floated the idea of ‘third front’ by partnering the Left bloc to protest against the coal scam in Parliament last month, is seen as critical in deciding the shape of secular politics post-2014. He is eyeing leadership of the ‘third front’ for a last shot at prime ministership. Both the Left as well as Congress are aware of his political muscle. He may be a big beneficiary in the 80-seat state and could determine who rules Delhi. The Left will prefer him to stay with the third front. Congress, on the other hand, is keen to keep him on its side, as much for UPA-II as for 2014. No wonder, the party has desisted from criticizing the UP regime even though it ran a campaign during state polls accusing Samajwadis of using communal polarization for electoral gain. Trinamool Congress is eager to coordinate with Mulayam since early polls suit both parties. Interestingly, while Mulayam cannot ally with BJP, the latter has its own calculations post-retail ruckus in keeping away from the UP regime. The saffron party does not want to stoke the ‘communal vs secular’ debate by talking about the sensitive issue since it would evoke strong ‘secular camaraderie’ from Congress and keep Mulayam on the UPA side.”
It is unbelievable to know that not one leader, be it from Muslim community or the other secular leaders or the social activists or any one, had the guts to speak up and ensure that they were actually, really helping to build a secular India. Even the BJP has not been strong in its response other than the stray comments from BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar and Shahnawaz Hussain. It got even more ridiculous when the local Muslim leaders started asking the policemen not to take any action as it would further deteriorate the delicate communal situation of the region. The only group who seemed to be registering some disapproval were the Hindu shopkeepers who had shutdown their shops protesting the police delay in making any arrests.
Notwithstanding the grumblings from the officials, about the investigation being hindered due to the presence of media, who are constantly following them for news bites, the results of preliminary enquiry are disquieting although not surprising. Following are the extracts of what the Intelligence Bureau has been saying for some time since long.
- Retired IPS and former Director General of Police (DGP) Uttar Pradesh KL Gupta says the reason behind the unprovoked attack on media persons at two places could possibly be aimed at destroying the video and photo footage of the violence so that the accused remained unidentified.
- The major worry of the IB is that the modules of various terrorist outfits might use the volatile situation to trigger more violence and engineer terror attacks, particularly on or before the tenth anniversary of Ayodhya Babri mosque demolition on December 6.
- This was not the first time that a defaced religious book was found in the region. Another book defaced in the same manner was found in Pilakhua on August 10 during Ramzan. The pattern was similar to the book found in Masuri as a mobile number was also scribbled on that.
- The man whose number was found scribbled on the defaced pages of the Holy Quran, claimed he had received a similar threatening call in August as well. “The caller used threatening and abusive language and told me that ‘you have defaced our religious book’. I was shocked. I called back and told him that we will hand his number to the police,” he claimed. The matter was not reported to the police as he received no further calls —that was till the September 14 violence at Dasna and Masuri. The man is totally confused and said two incidents of similar nature, in August and September, cannot be mere coincidence.
- The police reportedly recovered some pamphlets which were distributed by a political party of eastern UP at various places soon after Friday namaz. The contents of this pamphlet, misinformation about Assam and Myanmar violence, provoked Muslims to resort to violence across the state.
- Last month the police had recovered some kites on which highly communalised messages were written. The minority community had been asked to wage a war against the nation. Some pamphlets have been recovered on which communal slogans have been written.” an officer of state intelligence department.
- “The State police chiefs have been asked to investigate robberies and street crime incidents minutely after security agencies noticed a disturbing trend of Indian Mujahideen raising money through this modus operandi.” The report says that “another area of concern was the circulation of undated pictures of charred bodies of Muslims with communal text supporting it to motivate young men to join the IM”.
Thus we see a planned incitement, stirring up of passion using the age old, tried and tested theme of Muslim victimhood and a wide scale violence harming not only the policemen but also the unassuming on-lookers of their own community. The conclusion that terrorist outfits like Indian Mujahideen are raising money through such heinous manners is something upon which serious investigation need to be done. A very worrying trend is the number of young men who had participated in the mob. It is repeatedly pointed out how hundreds or thousands of young Muslims of the age between 20 and 25 have been seen rioting and plundering in this particular incident alone. One would like to assume that they are not fools who get flared up just because a few pages of their book have been defiled. Yet, what is seen around the world, in Middle East and in Europe, points to a conclusion which is otherwise. Another thing which is of disturbing nature is the role played by the mosques. By now we have seen a number of incidents in which, misinformation is spread during the namaz time in mosques. As a concerned citizen anyone would want to know about the steps being taken to tackle this. It was a different India, when we saw a leader boldly stating “I don’t give a damn if the Golden Templeand whole of Amritsar are destroyed, I want Bhindranwale dead“ so that the nation will not reel under the threats of secession and terrorism and it is another India when we have a foreigner ruled government trying its level best to pander to the whims and fancies of extremists in the name of secularism.
Written on 2nd October 2012
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