By Asghar Ali
For Study Of Society And Secularism
03 January, 2003
Communal riots have become the fate of
this country thanks to our politicians and their selfish interests.
And ironically most of the riots are engineered by those politicians
who claim to be most patriotic. Their patriotism is designed to win
power by propagating hate politics against minority communities. The
year 2003 too, like previous years, saw its own quota of communal violence.
The communal violence
began in Gujarat in the New Year. Gujarat, ruled by Narendra Modi, a
hard core RSS man who was responsible for Gujarat carnage of 2002. Gujarat
witnessed series of communal clashes on 2nd January 2003. Most of these
incidents occurred in Central Gujarat, the region from where the BJP
won maximum number of seats. And no wonder most of the victims were
from minority community. The police officials admit that stray cases
of communal violence have not stopped since the Gujarat carnage. After
the election results, more than dozen cases of violence, including murders,
stone pelting and arson, occurred in 10 different places, most of them
in Central Gujarat.
On 2nd January Darbhanga,
Bihar witnessed communal riot in Lalbagh area in which 8 persons were
injured including two policemen and police had to impose curfew. And
on 2nd January communal violence took place in Ahmad Nagar, Maharashtra,
in which 5 persons were injured including one 70 year old woman. The
violence broke out on the question of burial ground land (qabrastan).
Police bandobast was tightened after these clashes between the two communities.
The hate propagandists
have created such polarisation between Hindus and Muslims that any small
incident like scooterists knocking down member of another community
or cricket game involving two communities results in communal clashes.
In Vidarbha towns of Akot and Risod cricket resulted in communal clashes
on 9th January in which 1 person was stabbed and six injured and in
Risod 150 shops were gutted resulting in loss of crores of rupees. Risod
is a sleepy town in Washim district. Both the towns are in communally
sensitive district and have mixed population. In Akot a trader called
Sadarani was grievously stabbed during the game.
It was again a Gujarat
that communal violence broke out on 15th January on the occasion of
Uttarayan festival in several towns like Ahmedabad, Godhra and Navsari.
At least 15 persons were injured in these clashes. Stone throwing and
mob clashes took place in Dariyaganj and Gomtipura areas which are communally
most sensitive in Ahmedabad.
On 14th January
violence erupted in Ganjbasoda town in Vidisha district of M.P. due
to alleged case of cow slaughter. Cow slaughter is another issue on
which violence erupts time and again. On hearing about cow slaughter
the mob went on rampage setting 60 shops belonging to Muslims were set
on fire. Members of Bajrang Dal are alleged to be behind these communal
disturbances. These Bajrang Dals were encouraged by the success of BJP
in Gujarat. Some houses and vehicles were also set on fire. 22 persons
were arrested. All this happened even though the culprit and his family
members were arrested. Night curfew and section 144 were imposed and
situation was stated to be under control.
There was communal
riot in Mungir town in Bihar on 16th January in which two persons including
an Imam of the mosque were killed. The violence erupted after one Umakant
Yadav was killed. Umakant was killed by some goondas belonging to minority
community. This news spread like wild fire in the city and members of
both the communities came out on the streets with dangerous weapons.
They fought against each other and apart from the Imam another person
Muhammad Shamu also was killed and two more persons were injured in
firing. Laloo Prasad Yadav, President of RJD said in a statement that
these clashes in Mongir is result of clashes between criminal elements.
Six persons were arrested and FIR was filed against twenty persons.
On 22nd January
a dispute between doctor and patient took full-fledged communal eruption
in Warud in Amravati District of Maharashtra. Asif Pathan whose wife
got blinded due to wrong treatment by an Ayurvedic doctor attacked him.
Pathan was then beaten up by two Bajrang Dal activists who were protecting
the doctor in anticipation of attack. Though Aisfkhan surrendered himself
to the police 3,000 strong mob protested the attack and some Bajrang
Dals started attacking properties belonging to Muslims. Police brought
the situation under control and some Bajrang Dals were arrested. Dr.
Lokhande was also a VHP activist and it is alleged that he was receiving
threats from SIMI activists.
Bhivandi is another
communally sensitive town where communal situation worsened two days
before Bakri Eid on February 9 when some Bajrang Dals attacked cows
being brought by Muslims. The police took 9 cows in custody and police-Muslim
clashes flared up in which 34 persons were injured including 26 policemen.
The Rapid Action Force was immediately brought to control the situation.
The communal cauldron in Bhivandi was first stirred by Bajrang Dals
and incitement by some Muslims leaders added to the gravity of the situation.
For Gujarat communal
violence has become so common that if it does not take place it becomes
a news. Communal violence took place in Mehsana district on the occasion
of Bakri Eid on 12th February in which at least eight persons including
a police constable received stab and sword injuries in Takodi village
of Mehsana district. It all started with some Muslims allegedly bringing
calves for slaughter. When the police tried to stop they were greeted
by volley of stones. It is interesting to note that some sources said
that the real cause of trouble was Panchayat election in which a Hindu
was elected Sarpanch with the help of some Muslims and the other group
of Muslims opposing the Hindu Sarpanch did not allow these Muslims to
enter the mosque.
On 19th February
there was trouble in Dhar, M.P. when some Bajrang Dal members tried
to enter the Kamalmoula mosque forcibly. When the police did not allow
them there was call for bandh and violence erupted. There were incidents
of violence and some one threw petrol bomb on police and police fired
back in which two persons were injured. Another police station was gheraoed
and some motor vehicles were set afire. One police van was also set
on fire. The RPF was brought in. Fifteen policemen were also injured.
A BJP MLA alleged that two persons died in police firing. However, police
denied any person was killed in firing. It maintained no one was even
injured. Thirty- five persons were arrested in the whole district and
more than 25 persons were injured during the disturbances which included
On 26th February
clashes broke out between Hindus and Muslims in Banglore while a Hindu
religious procession was passing from near a mosque. There was stone
throwing from both sides in Vedika and Ashok Nagar areas. Many shops
and vehicles were damaged and when police tried to intervene its vehicles
were also damaged. The mob set fire to one wine shop also. Many people
were injured including 12 policemen.
Again on 1st March
one riot erupted in Banglore D.J. Halli area after the India-Pakistan
cricket match. Some 500 persons entered the area shouting slogans and
stone pelting started. The police resorted to lathi charge and fired
in the air to disperse the mob. More than 8 persons including four policemen
Ahmedabad and Baroda
also witnessed communal clashes on 2nd March after Indo-Pak cricket
match. The police fired in which one Muslim youth was killed in Shahpur
area. More than 12 persons were injured including one Assistant police
commissioner. Same day stray incidents were also reported from Baroda
and a group of Hindus celebrating India?s victory over Pakistan clashed
with group of Muslims also celebrating India?s victory.
procession in Bareilly on 7th March communal violence broke out in which
4 persons were seriously injured one of which died subsequently. The
police arrested 163 persons.
Near Bahraich in
Saravasti district in U.P. village Barga-bargi dispute broke out on
hunting wild bore and people of one community attacked people of another
community in which 30 houses were set afire and two children were burnt
alive. Twelve persons were injured. Many persons fled from their houses
out of fear.
On 18th March Hindus
and Muslims clashed in Indore, an important trading city of M.P. when
a Muslim fired on a Hindu in a state of inebriation. The mob then set
fire to vehicles and two houses. However, the police brought situation
The next round of
communal flare up was reported from Gorakhpur in U.P. on 20th March
a highly sensitive town where Gorakhnath temple is situated and Mahant
Adityanath of BJP contests election from there. Adityanath is known
for his militancy and extremism. He is a BJP M.P. from this area. The
clashes took place on the occasion of Holi when a procession of Holi
revellers led by Mahant Aditynath was going through Zafra locality.
An argument broke out with some members of minority community and the
Holi revellers in a fit of anger broke down the wall of Kerbala. The
two groups began to throw brickbats at each other and some people started
firing. The Imam of Ghazi Rauza mosque was hit in the cross -fire and
died. More than a dozen scooters and vehicles were burnt and shops looted.
Two more persons were killed and thus in all three persons died during
the disturbances. Mayawati, the then Chief Minister removed Director
General of Police for his failure to control communal violence.
Next communal riot
was reported from industrial town of Rajgangpur 400 km. from Bhubneshwar
in Orissa on 11th April. Two persons were killed in the clashes. Violence
erupted when procession of Lord Hanuman was being taken on the occasion
of Ramnavmi. Some unidentified persons pelted stones on the procession
and hell broke loose. The district administration had made strict police
arrangements but it could not prevent communal violence. When the situation
was getting out of control the police fired killing two persons. The
deceased were identified as Manik Kumar Sahu (28) and J.J.Nag. Additional
forces were rushed to control the situation.
On 16th April Panki
Block of Palamu in Jharkhand State saw communal clashes between the
two communities in which one person died. Some people burned the flag
of a religious place. Then the persons belonging to other community
started stoning from shops and from a religious place. Then others also
retaliated and next day a dead body was found from a nearby well but
it is not certainly known who killed him.
was killed in Baroda, Gujarat and his body with severed head was found
with deep wounds and violence broke out on 1st May between Hindus and
Muslims. Similarly on 10th May violence was reported from Bhavnagar,
Gujarat clashes broke out on minor road accident and situation got out
of control and one person was killed and seven others ? policemen and
journalists were injured. The clashes erupted in Ranika area of Bhavnagar.
The person was killed in police firing.
Though Kerala is
comparatively free from communal clashes but for last two years there
have been clashes between Muslims and RSS activists. In January 2002
also some 5 persons were killed when the Hindus attacked Muslim fishermen.
The Muslims retaliated this time and on May 2, 7 persons were killed
in Marad beach area under Beypore police station in Kerala. Last year
RSS had killed Muslims and this year brother of one of the deceased
took revenge by killing seven persons. The Muslims had used a nearby
mosque for hiding weapons and so the mosque was taken over by the Government.
The Muslims fled from the village in fear and Sangh Parivar was not
allowing them to return. They could return only after few months when
the chief minister intervened.
communal violence in Melapalli and Nampalli areas on 6th June. The clashes
went on whole night and next day too stone pelting and incidents of
setting fire continued. About 10 motor vehicles were set afire. One
person had died in clashes on 5th June night and this further provoked
Jamner of Jalgaon
district in Maharashtra experienced communal clashes on 18th June when
brother of Ramesh Mali who was killed last year on the same day attacked
one Muinuddin Sheikh and seriously injured him. Last year on 18th June
5 persons were killed in communal riots. However, the police and local
political leaders intervened and controlled the situation.
Normally Jammu and
Kashmir has been free from communal violence despite repeated attempts
by militants to cause communal violence. However, a small communal incident
occurred on 1st July between Hindus and Muslims and shops were burnt
and looted in Jammu. The trouble started when 150 Hindus who had fled
from Kullar area due to threats from militants were sitting on dharna.
They started pelting stones on the shops belonging to Muslims as they
objected to blocking the road. The authorities rushed to the trouble
spot. Sub-divisional magistrate of Kishtwar was roughed up by the demonstrators.
Four shops and three small structures were set ablaze. Police fired
to disperse the mob. Four civilians and seven policemen were injured.
Twenty four shops
were burnt and three persons were injured in Mehkar town of Buldhana
district in Maharashtra when quarrel over money matter between two youths
of different communities took place. Soon it developed in serious communal
clashes. The police fired injuring three persons. An indefinite curfew
was imposed. The police authorities said 20 others including 13 police
persons were injured. The police rounded up 47 persons in all.
Baroda and Junagadh
saw communal clashes on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi in which one
woman was killed and 10 people were injured on 1st September. Godhra
also witnessed violence on 5th September when Ganesh idols were being
taken for immersion. In these clashes 25 persons were injured including
one DSP. The procession was stoned when passing through minority area
and many shops were set ablaze. The immediate provocation came from
objectionable slogans written on walls of masjid. The role of BJP MLA
came to be criticised by both communities. His supporters in the procession
shouted derogatory slogans.
There was serious
communal trouble in Kodinar town of Junagarh district in Gujarat. The
VHP and Bajrang Dal people looted and burnt 26 shops belonging to Muslims.
The police arrested 53 persons, which included one Bajrang Dal leader.
The police seized one car, one tractor, swords, gas cutter, tins of
kerosene and gas cylinders from the rioters. According to the police
there was short circuit in one Hindu shop and it was burnt. But the
VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders without verifying set rumour afloat that
Muslims have burnt the shop. The VHP organised bandh in protest against
the arrest of 53 persons.
About hundred families
from tribal dominated villages of Jhalawar district after Bajrang Dal
activists destroyed a mosque with bombs and subjected Muslims to series
of attacks over three consecutive days from 22-25 September. Police
have arrested 30 people in this connection but the RSS Iklera Tehsil
Karyawahak Kanwarlal Meena and his accomplice Devi Lal who masterminded
the operation were absconding.
not much communal violence thanks to Laloo Prasad?s efforts. But that
does not mean there is no communalism and RSS is sleeping. RSS-VHP are
quite active spreading communal feelings. In Ara, Bihar, communal violence
broke out on 5th October on the occasion of Durga Puja. The RSS controls
some puja samitis. According to eye -witnesses there was a garbage dump
near the pooja pandal and people used it as open urinal also. On that
day a Muslim youth was urinating. The youth was criminal minded. Members
of pooja samiti tried to stop him and there was argument. The RSS gave
it a communal colour. Some RSS youth went round on motor cycles spreading
the rumour that the Muslim youth not only urinated on the Durga idol
but broke the kalash also. Some miscreants gathered and started burning
and looting Muslim shops. When the situation became out of control the
police opened fire killing two Hindu youths. Some 70 shops were burnt
and 48 cars set ablaze. It is obvious that it was conspiracy by the
RSS to spread communal violence in Bihar and try to seize power from
Laloo Prasad Yadav. Laloo knows this well and he not only took immediate
step to curb the violence but also denounced it as RSS conspiracy.
On 13th October
Agra in U.P. was involved in communal vortex when U.P. minister of state
for science and technology visited Agra. There were widespread clashes
between two communities and curfew had to be imposed in two police circles
of Agra. The main reason was that Chowdhury Bashir had defected from
BSP and joined the Samajwadi Party of Mulayamsingh Yadav. The Jatavs
who are supporters of BSP protested against Bashir and it took communal
turn. Fire arms and petrol bombs were pelted back and forth and several
houses and vehicles were set on fire. Arson and looting continued till
late in the night. The mob tried to forcibly enter the house in which
Basheer had taken refuge and tried to set it on fire. The timely arrival
of the police, however, saved Bashir?s life.
Agra again erupted
on 2nd day despite heavy police bandobast and violence spread in the
city in which one person was killed. He was beaten to death. The U.P.
Government transferred district collector and SSP for their failure
to control communal violence. At least at seven places houses and shops
were set ablaze. Two godowns of leather were also set afire. Agra is
main centre of leather goods.
On October 15 Kurla,
an eastern suburb of Mumbai went up in flames when a Muslim girl was
teased by some Hindu youth at night between 10.30 and 11 p.m. There
was argument between members of two communities and then violence began.
Kurla has large Muslim population and is highly communally sensitive.
Police was rushed and Jt. Commissioner of Police Javed Ahmed also visited
the area. Tough temporarily situation calmed down but erupted next morning
again. Some miscreants pelted stones at Jama Masjid on New Mill road.
In retaliation petrol bombs and soda water bottles were thrown at Hanuman
Mandir. Several persons were injured grievously. State Reserve police,
Rapid Action Force and Riot Police were rushed.
Aligarh, a communally
quite sensitive area in Uttar Pradesh, saw communal strife again on
1st November when an Arthi (dead body of a Hindu) was passing through
the passage lying through a Muslim cemetery. The Muslims tried to stop
the passage of the body and dispute broke out and both sides started
firing on each other. Several people were injured. They also indulged
in arson and heavy brickbatting. Two scooters and some road - side kiosks
were burnt. Police resorted to heavy lathi charge and fired rubber bullets
to disperse the clashing groups. The administration had to employ para-military
forces like PAC and RPF. Curfew had to be clamped in Delhi Gate, Kotwali
and Sasni Gate police station areas.
continues to boil since the post-Godhra carnage and communal incidents
keep on taking place every few days. Communal violence revisited on
2nd November leaving three persons dead and 45 injured. This time it
occurred in Viramgam, 65 kms. from Ahmedabad. There was heavy stone
pelting, arson and firing. One person was killed when police fired 15
rounds and two persons fell to bullets from private arms. Trouble broke
out when a cricket ball landed in the nearby temple. This was enough
provocation for communal violence. Marauding began and at least 30 shops
were looted and burnt. Curfew was imposed at 12.40 p.m. In all twenty
five persons were arrested including the BJP councillor Puroshottambhai
Vasrambhai Jadav who fired from his gun killing one person. His gun
was also seized. Those killed were identified as Zakir Allah Rakkha
Multani (30), Zakir Yousuf Multani (35) and Sharif Shafibhai (25).
Ahmedabad once again
erupted on November 9 when rumours spread that a person of minority
community was stabbed in Juhapura area. Communal violence spread in
Kalupur area in which two persons lost their lives. One was burnt to
death and another was stoned to death. Besides this 5 persons were stabbed.
Police had to lob several tear gas shells and have imposed strict ban
on persons pouring out on streets.
In Hyderabad Talaguda
area violence erupted between Hindus and Muslims on the question of
constructing a wall for a place of worship. Police resorted to firing
and 5 persons were injured in firing. However, the police frustrated
the attempt to attack the houses of one community.
On 17th November
violence broke out in Vai in Satara district of Maharashtra. Vai is
a sacred town for Hindus. The violence broke out when some members of
Pratabgadh Utsav Samiti forcibly tried to stop a truck taking some cattle.
More than 500 persons collected near a place of worship and stone pelting
and arson began. The Hindutvawadis spread rumour in the town which intensified
violence. Varsha Deshpande of Yuva Kranti Dal who toured the area along
with the police said how these Hindutvawadis discovered any cows. The
fact is, she said, there was a dead calf of she buffalo, which was skinned
by some dalits. The mob set one tempo, two jeeps, a motor cycle and
several cycles ablaze. Members of minority community were feeling highly
On 21st November
violence broke out in Parbhani in Marathwada area when a bomb exploded
near Jama Masjid after last Juma prayer of Ramadan in which 35 Muslims
were injured and curfew was imposed in Parbhani district. According
to the police two motorcycle riders threw the bomb when prayers was
going on in Rahmatnagar mosque. The explosion took place at 1.50 p.m.
After the bomb explosion two shops were set ablaze in Gujri Sarafa and
Shivajinagar areas. It is said that Shiv Sena-BJP workers are involved
in the explosion.
erupted on 4th December and surprisingly this time it was between Sikhs
and Muslims. It is alleged that some Muslim youth damaged a gurdwara
in Kishanbagh area. One person was killed and four were injured in stabbing
incidents. When news about attack on gurdwara spread Sikhs collected
near it and began to attack Muslims. Muslims also retaliated and some
Sikhs were injured.
witnessed communal violence on 6th December when Muslims were mourning
on demolition of Babri Masjid on that day in 1992 and Hindus were celebrating
Shaurya Divas (day of courage). Police resorted to firing in Sultan
Shahi and Gowlipura areas late in the night to stop mobs resorting to
looting and arson targeting the opposite community. Three persons died
due to bullet injuries and two died in stabbing incidents thus taking
the toll to five dead.
The victims alleged
that role of police worsened the situation. Chief minister Chandrababu
Naidu visited the victims who complained to him. He ordered strict action
against guilty police officers. An indefinite curfew had to be clamped
in eight police station areas in the walled city and 21 plattons of
paramilitary forces had to be deployed.
Thus the year 2003
also witnessed number of communal riots throughout India in which several
lives were lost and hundreds were injured and properties worth crores
of rupees were damaged. Most of the major states both in north and south
were affected by communal violence. It is in smaller states with small
Muslim population like Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh etc., which
did not witness incidents of violence. Assam and other North Eastern
states generally experience ethnic violence but not so much communal
violence. This year there were hardly any incidents of communal violence
in this zone. Also, West Bengal was free of major communal incidents.
Since the left Front Government has taken over West Bengal has been
free of communal violence, though not of communalism. Bihar too, since
Laloo Prasad Yadav has been in command has not seen major riots. Thus
it is clear that if governments are determined to curb communal violence
it can be effectively checked.