No year in India has been riot-free.
Some years like 1992-93 post Babri Masjid demolition, 2002 in
Gujarat witness major communal catastrophe, 2008 in Kandhamal
riots or some years witness riots which are not nationally taken
notice of. The year 2010 of course did not witness riots like
Mumbai in 1992-93 or one like in Gujarat in 2002 but did witness
riots mostly in either middle level cities or even small towns and
However, some riots were really
disturbing and also one cannot be oblivious of ever increasing
trend of communalization due to all out efforts being made by RSS
and its other outfits. Even a moderate party like the Congress has
felt danger from communalism and tried to focus attack on communal
BJP in its own interest. The BJP may not be upfront in promoting
communal politics for various reasons not to be discussed in this
article but is using other organizations of Sangh Parivar to do
so. The BJP is in power in a few states and it is going all out to
promote RSS in these states and also to recruit people with the
RSS background in various government services which itself is
great danger to our secularism.
The Congress focusing on communalism
in its 84th session is more symbolic than substantial. It is still
not ready to take on communal bull by its horns but is fighting it
rather sheepishly. The Congress is the only national party with
secular ideology but is not honest as it should be in fighting
menace of communalism. Otherwise there is no reason why India
cannot be riot-free.
According to the Home Ministry data
between 2001 and 2009 6,541 communal clashes occurred and 2,234
persons were killed. Though the number of communal clashes may be
correct officially the number of casualties is never reported
accurately in official records for various reasons. In 2002 in
Gujarat alone, all non-official sources agree, was 2000 dead and
official sources are showing number of deaths between 2001 sand
2009 i.e. over a period of 8 years as 2,234 i.e. minus Gujarat
total number of dead over a period of 8 years in all only 234
persons died which can hardly be accurate. But if we take official
figure of dead in Gujarat riots of 2002 as 1000, then over a
period of 8 years 1234 people died i.e. more than 150 people per
year which is not so small, after all.
In 2009 the last riot had taken
place on 30th December in Bhilwada, Rajasthan. This year too
Rajasthan witnessed two horrible riots. The Sangh Parivar is doing
everything possible to convert Rajasthan into Gujarat and
Rajasthan is already on its way to becoming one. Maharashtra too
is communally very sensitive state though it has always been ruled
by the Congress except for one term i.e. from 1995 to 2000 by the
Shiv Sena-BJP. The first riot in 2009, as per our record, took
place in Evatmahal, Maharashtra on 16th January. The apparent
cause was the rumour that Shivaji’s and Bal Thackeray’s
photographs have been blackened in the College Chowk. The
Shivsainiks came out on the road and started pelting stones on
shops, buses and other vehicles. The police, however, brought the
situation under control without any loss of life. The police
arrested 50 Shivsainiks for rioting.
Karnataka, especially South
Karnataka, is another communally sensitive area. The Ramsena has
become hyper active since the BJP came to power. Both Christians
and Muslims are being attacked in this state. Attacks on churches
and mosques have increased. On 31st January Churches were attacked
in Bhatkal and Mysore and a glass painting of mother Mary was
attacked in Mangalore. Apart from this in Mangalore two mosques,
one orphanage, one shop and one house also came under attack. One
student was injured in an attack on the orphanage.
Next Shimoga in Karnataka and
Bareilly in U.P. experienced communal violence on the occasion of
Prophet’s birthday. In Shimoga the provocation came when a Kannada
paper Kannada Prabha published Kannada translation of Taslima
Nasreen’s article. Taslima Nasreen denied having anything to do
with it. It was an article on burqa which was originally written
in English in 2006 and it was a distorted translation according to
her. Shimoga and Hassan experienced communal violence and both
towns were put under curfew. Though there was no loss of life
properties and vehicles were set to fire. Curfew was enforced and
extended for two days to contain the situation.
Barielly in U.P. also saw communal
violence on the occasion of Prophet’s birthday. On March 2 Muslims
were to take out Julus-e-Muhammadi i.e. Prophet’s birthday
procession. There were thousands of Muslims in the procession when
some Hindus objected to procession being taken from a particular
route. Bareilly has no history of communal violence. Both sides
were throwing stones and attacking vehicles and houses.
It was difficult or 300 constables
to contain the huge mob and hence imposed curfew which helped
bring the situation under control. However, on March 8 the police
arrested Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan, President Ittahid-e-Millat
Council for delivering provocative speeches in the procession.
When Muslims protested he was released on 11th March. Then the
Hindus protested and said he was released under pressure from
Muslims and fresh trouble broke out on 12th March.
Since Holi and Prophet’s birth day
coincided Muslims decided to take out julus two days later but
Shabani Mian of Anjuman-e-Khuddam-e-Rasul did not agree to defer
and hence for last two years two processions were being taken out
and this year it resulted in communal eruption. There are various
conjectures as to why Bareilly suddenly erupted which had remained
quiet even after demolition of Babri Masjid. Some say Mayawati
felt insecure as the Congress was performing well and that she had
secret understanding with the BJP to polarize Hindu and Muslim
vote. It is true that the Congress and BSP are at logger’s head
and would not mind engineering communal violence. Communal
violence is a political phenomenon, not religious one.
Thus Bariely remained under curfew
for a long time which it had not witnessed before and sustained
huge losses of property. This riot, mainly due to rivalry between
Congress and BSP assumed national importance and this issue was
raised even in Parliament also.
Next it was turn of Hyderabad on 30th March. Hyderabad old city is
communally highly sensitive thanks to rivalry between
Majli-s-Ittihadul Muslimin and BJP. In the old city poorest of
poor Muslims live along with Hindus some of whom are traders and
supporters of BJP. Most of the poor Muslims support the Majlis.
Majlis is trying to increase its political clout and hence decided
to celebrate Prophet’s birth day on a grand scale and even went to
the extent of creating a copy of the Prophet’s mausoleum in the
old city which had never happened before.
It also decorated old city and the
area remained under illumination and decoration for long after the
Barawafat i.e. Prophet’s birth day. The BJP, not to be outdone,
celebrated Hanuman jayanti on a big scale and created huge sized
statue which was not the tradition. It led to tension when the BJP
workers tried to remove Prophet’s birth day flags and decorations
and clashes occurred.
There were other factors besides
this rivalry between the Majlis and BJP. New Chief Minister Rosaih
had taken over after death of Rajshekhar Reddy in the helicopter
accident and his son Jaganmohan Reddy was aspiring to become C.M.
but the congress high command chose Rosaiah. Many were of the
opinion that he was behind the riots trying to destabilize Rosaiah.
Yet there was another theory that some big builders engineered the
violence as land prices are skyrocketing in the old city and
builders are interested in big development projects by getting the
land vacant through engineering violence.
There was yet another theory that the BJP wanted to increase its
base in the area and so far it has not tested power in Andhra
Pradesh though it is already in power in neighbouring Karnataka
and hence it sent VHP cadre to provoke communal violence to
consolidate the Hindu vote. It is said that these people came on
motorcycle and injuries inflicted were of the same kind.
This riot was also of major kind and
persisted for a whole month and old city remained under curfew for
that period greatly inconveniencing the poor who could not even go
out for work. There was shortage of food, milk and vegetables.
Various NGOs came out to render some help to the poor. These are
the political games which politicians play and subsequently poor
suffer. Two persons were killed in stabbing incidents besides huge
The attacks from outside were such
that several young Muslim boys of 9 to 14 years of age formed
defence squad and tried to scare away attackers from outside who
entered the old city to engineer violence. A student from U.K.
carried out study of this spontaneous defence squad and read out a
paper on her field study in the Asia conference in Australia in
which I was also present. These young boys acted spontaneously and
no political party or agency had organized them. This communal
violence continued for whole month i.e. up to beginning of April.
Agra in U.P. came under spell of communal violence on 25th April
when 25 shops were set to fire as rumour spread that some people
teased some girls. It took communal form and these shops happened
to be in Shivaji Market of Fort area. However, authorities denied
that it was communal in nature. But it seems it was communal in
nature two groups belonged to two different communities.
Dhule in Maharashtra too is sensitive area which has witnessed
worst riots earlier too. Outside collector’s office there appeared
a poster with the cartoon of the Prophet of Islam on 4th May which
provoked Muslims to protest. The police fired on the agitating mob
and also lathicharged thus injuring more than 4 people were
injured and several more in lathicharge. During stone pelting
vehicle of Dy.S.P. was also damaged. However, Minister in charge
of Dhule Abdus Sattar convened peace committee meeting and
violence was stopped.
It is so funny that in India even 60
years after independence and our secular Constitution communal
violence breaks out on small and very insignificant issues like in
Amalner Maharashtra where riot broke out on 19 May on the question
of grinding spices in a grinding mill. The floor mill belonged to
a Muslim and a Hindu customer wanted his spices to be grinded on
priority basis and resulted in a bitter exchange and violence
broke out in which Muslims were targeted The Police had to fire in
the air to disperse the mob and two persons were injured in
firing. Even the police came under attack and 9 of them were
Jodhpur in Rajasthan witnessed
communal violence on 23rd May near Balesar village. The dominant
community of Sainis attacked police station after member of this
community died in a police firing after damaging an Idgah. The
incidents took place after dispute over removal of a particular
shop for road widening. Then the labourers working on NREGA scheme
damaged the portion of the Idgah.
Then came the turn of Ahmedabad
where communal violence erupted on 26th May. One person was killed
in acid attack in Shahpur area. Shopkeepers immediately downed
their shutters. Tension spread to other areas of the city, as
knives and swords were out and two people were stabbed. The
clashes began when a marriage procession passed by a mosque at
prayer time. Eleven people were injured when rival groups stoned
and police was forced to fire. One of the injured Vijay Datania
died in the hospital triggering fresh violence. It was alleged by
People’s Union for Civil Liberties that the Modi Government was
mainly responsible for communal violence and a delegation of PUCL
met Governor to intervened and stop violence.
The communal violence however,
continued to spread in other areas and later in Chalte Peer Ki
Dargah area an armed mob of masked boys slashed a scooterist’s
throat barely 15 feet from police station. In retaliation armed
mob set two motor bikes on fire.
Again it was in Rawer of Jalgaon
District, Maharashtra that communal violence broke out on the
question of eve teasing on 2nd June. The police first resorted to
lathicharge and then to firing to disperse the mob. (12 persons
were injured in stoning and firing. After the incident of eve
teasing a mob attacked the Mastanshah Masjid. Three policemen were
also injured in communal incidents. The mob attacked several shops
and properties belonging to Muslims
Malegaon experienced communal unrest
when news spread that 6 dead cows were found on the road. Malegaon
would have exploded if the police had not countered the rumour.
The cows were not killed or slaughtered by any one but they died
of suffocation while being transported. Some Hindutvawadis
published on internet bodies of badly injured cows by doctoring
these photographs to incite violence. But it did not work. People
refused to be provoked. Malegaon, otherwise, is highly sensitive
Sarada town in Udaipur district
erupted on 24-25 July after two drunk gangsters fought one of them
Muslim and the other a tribal as Sarada happens to be a tribal
area. The VHP, RSS and BJP exploited this incident o the hilt and
provoked tribals into seeking revenge and distributed arms to them
and all of them were made to gather near Muslim area and it all
happened the Congress ruled state that 70 houses belonging to
Muslims were burnt right in the presence of S.P. and District
Also about 500 Muslim families were
dishoused in 6 other villages in this district. One Congress M.P.
and his MLA wife were also present when these houses were burnt
and destroyed. They belonged to the same tribal group. Thus tribal
loyalty proved to be stronger than ideological loyalty. What is
worse the Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, supposedly a secular man
did not take any action against guilty S.P. and D.M. despite
repeated representation to him by human rights activists. Muslims
are very angry with Gehlot for deliberately not taking any action.
I also personally told him when I met him at P.M.’s house in Delhi
in a meeting but he had no convincingly reply. Instead he promoted
the S.P., a tribal from North East and transferred him. He even
refused to hold a judicial inquiry. Not only that even adequate
compensation was not offered to those who lost everything they
possessed. Paltry amounts were offered and when Muslims refused
police intimated them into accepting.
Since the BJP has lost elections in
Rajasthan it is trying to use communal card to come back to power.
The Congress is not ready even to understand this. It appears
Gehlot is not interested in controlling communal elements in
Rajasthan and giving them full latitude to do what they want and
going totally unpunished.
Ratlam in M.P. which is normally a
peaceful town came under communal spell after some people threw
cow dung on a mosque which was being painted on 4th September.
This led to clashes between Hindus and Muslims. Muslims set fire
to a motorcycle. Thereupon people from another community came on
the streets with weapons and began to set fire to motorcycles and
other vehicles. One section of the city came under spell of
violence. However, then the police intervened and brought about
reconciliation between warring groups.
On 6th September Deganga, West
Bengal saw communal violence when Rahul Gandhi was to begin his
tour of West Bengal. Haji Nurul Islam is accused of presiding over
a four hour mayhem on September 6 in Deganga that led to
destruction of properties belonging to Hindus and the desecration
of a temple. A rattled Trinamool has launched an investigation
into the matter. The violence that started on September 6 and
continued uptil 9 despite deployment of Army, was triggered by
erection of a wall around a Muslim cemetery at Kartikpur that
Hindus said blocked entry to a temple and pandal of Durga puja.
Nurul-n-Islam led a march to the police station and on the way mob
damaged houses and shops.
But then Muslims decided to submit
memorandum to the police. This again led to Hindus gathering with
weapons and forced their entry into nearby Muslim houses and began
to damage them. On Kalalseri some houses were damaged and a
tractor and a tempo were set afire. However, the police officer
fired 6 rounds in air to control the situation. But even then the
crowd continued to commit violence for quite sometime. Thus
properties worth several lakhs were destroyed.
This time Malerkotla went through a
bout of communal violence though Malerkotla is a place known for
communal harmony as it was Nawwab of Malerkotla who had saved the
children of the 10th Guru Govind Singh and hence Sikhs did not
harm Muslims of Malerkotla even in 1947 partition riot and this is
the only district in Punjab from where Muslims did not migrate to
It was on September 12 that bout of
communal violence took place after the Qur’an burning incident in
the US was to take place. Since a Christian priest in the US was
to burn copies of Qur’an a church was vandalized in Malerkotla
after the Eid celebrations. The police had to impose curfew. The
angry mob also burnt a police motorcycled. The police had a tough
time controlling the angry mob. Muftyi Fazlur Rehman who appealed
for peace said that the disturbances were politically motivated.
He also maintained that events were pre-planned. After the news of
disturbances in Malerkotla the Christians in Ludhiana blocked the
entire area and similarly Muslims also gathered near Jama Masjid
in Ludhiana to protest against the burning of Qur’an in US. The
unruly mob set ablaze the office of the forest department and two
police vehicles in Poonch after four people get injured when
police fired warning shots in the air and lobbed teargas shells.
In Jammu region the mob burnt effigies of Barrack Obama.
Finally District Jhalawad in
Rajasthan came under spell of communal violence on 20th September
after tribals provoked by the Sangh Parivar ransacked Manoharthana
and few other villages after a tribal girl was raped by three
Muslim boys. Most of the Muslims lost everything and had to leave
Manoharthana with clothes they were wearing. Everything else was
burnt or looted. We heard their woes and those of Sarada village
in Udaipur district on 12th December in a Jansunwai (public
hearing). In Manoharthana too the police did not act and allowed
Adivasis (tribals) to burn and loot.
The Sangh Parivar is communalizing
tribals and dalits and using them for indulging in communal
violence. In Manoharthana the two factions of BJP were involved.
Thus it was factionalism within BJP which became one of the causes
of the communal violence in Manoharthana, Rajasthan. Also, BJP is
making all efforts to convert Rajasthan into Gujarat and Congress
ruling party is quite oblivious of this.