Fortunately January remained riot-free but with February communal
situation began to slip down the slippery slope. It began with
Nanded in Maharashtra. Maharashtra is one of the communally most
sensitive states though it has been ruled by the Congress most of
the time. In the centre of Nanded town near Railway station two
youth belonging to Hindu and Muslim communities had quarrel and soon
it acquired communal overtones and five youth were injured and had
to be hospitalized. It began with eve teasing of girls belonging to
one community and youth of two communities came out on the streets
and violence erupted. Sharp edged weapons were openly used. One of
the injured was in critical condition. All shops in the area downed
their shutters. However, the police controlled the situation
happened in Tanda town of Ambedkar Nagar when murder of Ramjor took
place communal violence erupted and one house and several shops of
minority community were set on fire. The police acted promptly and
police force and PAC were sent to control the situation. However,
much damage was not done and police controlled it in time.
is another sensitive state since BJP has taken over. On 11th March
communal violence broke out in Mahidpur of Ujjain district which has
considerable Muslim population. Some Muslims returning after the
Prophet Day’s procession were asked to avoid a route where Ramayana
recitation was going on but they insisted on taking that route and
communal violence broke out in which one person was killed and 17
persons were injured. The police had resorted to firing and one
person was killed in police firing. About 24 persons were arrested.
Festivals like Holi, Diwali or Ganesh Chaturthi generally witness
outbreak of communal violence in number of places. On 11th March on
the occasion of Holi four U.P. towns witnessed communal violence.
These towns were Benaras, Azamgarh, Lucknow and Bareli. In all four
persons were killed and more than 22 people were injured. Curfew had
to be imposed in several parts of two cities. Police bandobast was
made in all these cities to check further spreading of violence. Of
these two persons were killed in firing in suburb of Benaras after
colour was thrown on some Muslims. These incidents took place in
Vellur and Bazari Deh and two police officers in charge of these
police stations were suspended. The high police officials were
camping here to keep situation under control.
other incident took place in Khilafatpur of Azamgarh district where
one person was killed and two persons were injured. In Lucknow in
Nawagaon area one person was shot dead. In Bareily old city also two
people of communities clashed on throwing colour and five persons
were injured. And in Faridpur area one person was killed during
Prophet day’s celebration.
During Holi festival reports of violent clashes from other places
was also received. In Ghazipur U.P. a six year old girl was killed
and several persons injured. Also from Bihar there were reports of 3
persons killed in Chapra and Nawada districts. In Delhi too one
tailor was stabbed to death.
Again in Maharashtra in Rabodi area of Thane, near Mumbai, communal
violence broke out after road accident. Police fired more than 30
rounds when the mob refuse to disperse. According to the eye
witnesses about seven Autorickshaws, one milk van, four shops and
three houses were set on fire near Kranti Nagar and rioters hurled
stones and soda bottles at the police. Two police inspectors
suffered serious head injuries. Rabodi had witnessed violent
communal clashes in September 2008 also on the occasion of Navratri.
South Karnataka also communal violence broke out and some mosques
were seriously damaged on 15th March. It was alleged by the congress
members in the Karnataka Assembly that volunteers of the Sangh
Parivar (family) were in the forefront of the violence and police
completely failed to control violence. It was even alleged that Ram
Sena leader Pramod Muthallik and others were trying to convert
Karnataka into another Gujarat. Karnataka has been witnessing
attacks on Christians and churches also. It was also alleged by the
Congress and other secular activists that on the eve of General
elections BJP was trying to polarize Karnataka to win elections.
4th April Pusad witnessed communal violence in which a Muslim couple
and a Hindu boy was killed. Pusad and Digras in Yavatmal district
also had witnessed serious communal violence in 2008 on the occasion
of Holi and now on 7th April 2009 Pusad again came under spell of
communal violence. In 2008 it was in Digras that police brutally
assaulted Muslims and broke their homes, looted cash and broke their
T.V. sets, fridges and even water vessels. This time Police repeated
these atrocities against Muslims in Pusad. In 2008 R.R.Patil was
Home Minister and in 2009 Jayant Patil was Home Minister. Neither
R.R.Patil took any action against the police nor Jayant Patil though
video clippings of police atrocities were shown. So much for
secularism of the Maharashtra Congress. And all this happened on the
occasion of General elections. It was because of such communal
violence that the seat went to the Shiv Sena. It was the Congress’s
own loss. Many riots are organized just to win elections. One can
call it winning elections through murder and killing. Pusad and
Digras in Maharashtra have become communally highly sensitive thanks
to VHP, Shiv Sena and other communal organizations and mysterious
silence, nay approval of the congress. It appears congress
government deliberately posts rank communal police officers in these
Police becomes looters and rioters in uniform. Besides one mosque 45
houses belonging to Muslims were set to fire. The Ram Navmi
procession comprising 20,000 people was taken out with loud speakers
loudly playing the tune Mandir Vahin Banayenge (we will construct
Mandir on that place only). The procession stopped near Mohammadi
Masjid and indulged in stone throwing and rioting broke out. And
this happened despite the fact that many Muslim leaders had welcomed
the procession in Lohar lane to promote communal amity.
Next Anand in Gujarat came under the spell of communal violence on
27th May. A 14 year old Muslim girl was murdered by a non-Muslim
youth who later committed suicide. The girl’s throat was slit with
sharp edged weapon. This led to clashes between two communities.
According to the police there was massive stoning by both sides on
each other five houses were burnt down. However, no one was killed.
The police seem to have controlled the situation.
Assam which is normally not very communally sensitive witnessed
communal riot on May 28. In this riot five persons were killed and
hundreds more rendered homeless following communal clash in Western
Assam’s Kokrajahr district. The police said that the trouble had
erupted over a piece of temple land, after some hooligans drove out
people living there. The residents alleged that a local police
officer had played partisan role and demanded his removal, which was
opposed by the members of another community.
Nanded, Maharashtra communal violence broke out on June 18 when some
people from Chopala area of the town objected to drugs being sold.
The mischief mongers gave it a communal turn and members of both
communities began to attack each other in which about 7 persons,
including two women were injured and had to be admitted in the
Government Hospital. The electric connections were severed and
indulged in communal violence in darkness. However, police reached
in time and brought the situation under control.
Mysore has been a peaceful town but under the BJP rule whole of
Karnataka is turning communally sensitive. Mysore also came under
the wave of communal violence on 3rd July in which 3 persons were
killed. Communal flare up took place on the question of desecration
of a religious school. Police fired in the air and lobbed teargas
shells to disperse the mob. Prohibitory orders were enforced in four
police station areas. In Udaigiri scores of houses were set on fire
in Kyathanamaranahalli. However the incidents soon spread over to
other areas like Udaigiri, Gayatripuram II stage and Rajivnagar. The
rioters snatched the pistol of an inspector many houses were looted
and set afire, police said. The tension continued next day also and
a BJP leader who was seated in a car with a Muslim friend was
stabbed though, stabbing was connected with a financial dispute.
After Mysore it was Shahpur area of Ahmedabad which was engulfed in
communal violence on 17th August in which about 8 persons were
injured. The violence broke out after alleged desecration of an idol
in a temple. However, according to another source the real cause was
playing music before the mosque. The whole area was littered with
stones and pieces of glasses. Shahpur is a Muslim majority area of
Interviews with local residents showed that the trouble had begun a
week ago when some people tried to build a temple near the Ahmedi
mosque opposite the Nagoriwad police Chowkey. Yet another version
was that the mosque authorities objected to the noisy procession, as
evening Namaz was being offered. Nearly half a dozen houses were
torched and property damaged on both sides in the clashes and many
injured. Many police officers were also injured among others. It was
also reported in some newspapers that two people were stabbed from
minority community and were seriously injured.
During the Ganesh festival in September Maharashtra again witnessed
communal violence in places like Sangli, Miraj and Icchalkaranji in
Kolhapur district on 7-9 September. Ichhalkaranji which has
population of 3 lakhs and is a textile town. Even after a month when
I met some Muslims from Icchalkaranji they were living in fear. In
fact riots had spread to other towns like Sangli and Miraj also.
Extensive damage was done to 60 Mosques and Dargahs in the whole
During the Ganesh festival in this region of Western region various
Ganesh Pandals were put up on which arches and posters showing
Shivaji killing Afzal Khan were shown and this was objected to by
some Muslims and it also became a controversy between the Congress
and Shiv Sena-BJP and communal violence broke out. The Chief
Minister of Maharashtra Mr. Ashok Chavan accusing the communal
parties of fanning the riots for a political capital.
Gopinath Munde, the BJP leader from Maharashtra on the other hand,
blamed the Congress for communal flare up exploiting it for
electoral purposes. There is a proof, if any proof is needed that
communal violence is used mainly for electoral purposes by political
parties. However, one hope-giving feature of these rioting was that
Hindu women in villages where mosques were damaged not only repaired
these mosques but also provided protection to the Muslims in
villages and persuaded them not to migrate to other places.
13th November we held one day workshop on Women for Secularism in
Icchalkaranji in which many women from these villages who repaired
mosques and saved Muslim lives in villages were also invited. I
heard them speak and was inspired from their determination to fight
communal forces. It gave me new confidence in the people of India to
keep India secular. They were mostly illiterate village women who
came out so strongly against communal forces. Again the communal
riots were sparked to exploit religious sentiments for electoral
Another thing to be noted is that Icchalkaranji, as pointed out, is
a textile town and was once stronghold of left trade unions. It went
into flames like Bhivandi, another textile town near Mumbai, went up
in flames in 1970 and 1984 communal violence. The Left trade union
workers get as easily polarized in religious camps as other people.
The left ideology hardly protects them from communal ideology.
23rd September Jaisalmer, Rajasthan saw communal frenzy in which one
person died and 10 persons were seriously injured when a religious
structure was demolished which was disputed in Fatehgarh area of
Jaisalmer. Also a dozen shops and four vehicles were burnt and
offices of SDM and Tehsildar were ransacked. Jaisalmer is a border
town and Pakistan is just a few kilometers away from there. The
Muslims of Jaisalmer can hardly be distinguished from Hindus
culturally or linguistically. It has no history of communal violence
either. Yet the BJP rule in Rajasthan gave Phillip to communal
forces in the area.
October 24 communal tension erupted in Shravasti town near Bahraich
in U.P. when meat pieces were found inside a mosque. The Muslims of
the town blocked the road and threw stones and attacked vehicles.
The protestors blocked the Bahraich-Shravasti road for hours and
tried to torch buses. According to the police, people noticed pieces
of meat near the mosque but when they entered the gate of the mosque
they found more pieces of meat and in no time some 500 people
gathered shouting slogans and demanding arrest of those responsible.
Some people of the town had dispute with members of minority
community and they might have left pieces of meat inside the mosque.
Some 14 persons were identified.
This was, in short, the account of communal violence in the year
2009. In all during 2009 23 lives were lost and 73 people injured.
It is very difficult to estimate loss of properties but undoubtedly
public and private properties put together it would run into
hundreds of crores of rupees. Also, it would be observed that riots
took place in U.P., Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, M.P.,
Assam and Gujarat.
However, there were no riots in West Bengal, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand,
Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Also, very few riots
took place in this year in Gujarat and maximum riots took place in
Maharashtra. This year hardly any riot was reported from Baroda in
Gujarat which is highly communally sensitive state. Thus we can say
while there is some improvement in Gujarat in terms of occurrence of
communal violence in Maharashtra we witness no such improvement.
government in Maharashtra is secular but has no political will to
curb activities of the Shiv Sena. Shiv Seainiks can get away with
anything. Also the Shiv Sena mouthpiece continues to be highly
abrasive and no law applies to it. About Gujarat touch communal
violence has gone down but not communalization. Since 2002 riots
brought great disgrace to Narendra Modi he is unwilling, at least
for the present, to have more communal violence but there is hardly
any let up in communalization and polarization on the basis of
religion. The great divide between Hindus and Muslims continues to
be what it was in 2002 and Gujarat continues to be Hindutva
is also to be noted as pointed out earlier, there has been no major
communal disaster after 2002 except in Kandhamal in Orissa.
However, there is one difference that in Orissa BJP was a junior
partner in Government and though it could inflict communal damage
once in Kandhamal, the process could not continue as in Gujarat.
Navin Patnaik, the Chief Minister of Orissa realized his mistake in
allying with the BJP and he broke with it after the Kandhmal riots.
This rupture stopped the process of Hinduization of Orissa.
However, in Gujarat, BJP was the real boss and hence after 2002
there was no such rupture and hence the process of communalization
remained steady. If communalization goes on communal violence can be
organized when needed. Communal violence cannot go on, on major
scale for obvious reasons. And in U.P. and Bihar, the two states of
Hindi belt which often witnessed major riots during eighties,
communal politics there was seriously weakened due to emergence of
caste-based parties there like Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party
(BSP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Janata Dal (United) etc.
There has been great change in power equation in the Hindi belt
though small skirmishes continue there. Tamil Nadu and Kerala were
always dominated by caste and left politics respectively. But in
both the states there was eruption of communal violence temporarily.
In Tamil Nadu the Hindu Munnani, an OBC party experienced a
temporary rise after conversion to Islam in Meenakshipuram and
because of clashes between OBC and Dalits. However, communal
politics could not be sustained on a long term basis.
Kerala too RSS tried to find its foothold in a section of society
which was left out of power equations. It did succeed to some extent
and apart from clashes between RSS and CPM, riots occurred between
Hindus and Muslims also but only on few occasions. Assam though not
a communal prone state but after ASSU movement in early eighties the
Rajasthani business community there felt highly insecure and hence
brought in RSS and communalized polity to some extent. However, it
succeeds in engineering communal violence here and there but it is
difficult to sustain communal discourse in Assam also for
historical, cultural and linguistic reasons.
this abundantly proves that communalism is a political and not a
religious phenomenon and that communal graph goes up and down
depending on political dynamics of a region. It gives us hope that
bewildering diversity of Indian society cannot sustain communal
violence on long term basis. If communal violence erupts it is more
because of weakness of secular forces than the strength of communal
Secular parties often loose courage and political will in the face
of communal onslaught at certain junctures. If secular parties show
courage and strong political will there is no reason communalism
will have long lease of life.