People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 37

September 15, 2013







On Communal Violence in Muzaffar Nagar


D P Singh


RECENTLY the district of Muzaffar Nagar in the western part of Uttar Pradesh was engulfed by communal violence and some 44 persons had lost their lives by the time of going to press. The fire had spread to the rural areas of the district and to some nearby districts. Thousands of people had left their ancestral villages, while Muzaffar Nagar city and Shamli town had had to be handed over to the army. Some one thousand people had been arrested but the violence seemed to be continuing unabated.


The violence erupted on August 27 after the murder of a Muslim and two Jat boys in Kawal village. After the said Muslim boy teased a girl, the latter’s brother and one more boy reached Kawli village and killed that Muslim chap. But the village people then seized these two boys, and they too were killed. As the news spread, thousands of houses were put afire in surrounding villages, and all the Muslims found en route were beaten up. Sadly, the district administration did not take these events seriously, while the RSS controlled communal organisations had by now got active in the whole district. Incendiary rumours spread the trouble in the whole of Muzaffar Nagar district and in nearby districts. RSS led communal groups had had a field day from August 27 to 30. 


The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) announced that it would hold a condolence meeting for the two slain Jat boys on August 31, in the intermediate college in Nagla Bhandaur village. BKU leader, Rakesh Tikait, later withdrew the announcement and cancelled the condolence meeting. But the BJP and other ‘Hindu’ organisations sought to utilise the announcement and kept announce that a condolence meeting would definitely take place. Because of their mobilisation, thousands of people reached the college ground despite the fact that the police had banned the meeting. Though Hindu leaders of the Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) were also there at the venue, only the ‘Hindu’ leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were allowed to speak. These speakers spit much venom from the dais, with Bharatendu (BJP MLA from Bijnor) and Suresh Rana (BJP MLA from Thana Bhawan) leading the whole incendiary exercise. Groups of villagers were also brought to the meeting’s venue from Jansath, Morna, Bohpa and Kakrauli villages, from the adjoining Bijnor district and even from adjoining parts of Haryana.      


The meeting continued till 4 p m. It demanded Rs 50 lakh compensation for the families of Gaurav and Sachin each, and announced that a panchayat would be held on September 7 to decide the future course of action. In this way the forces of Hindu communalism got time of one more week to inject venom into the Jat community.


Earlier, on August 30, a huge crowd of Muslims had thronged the streets of Muzaffar Nagar after the Friday prayer. The crowd converted into a public rally at Shaheed Chowk, with the speakers demanding that the National Security Act (NSA) be used against those who had set the Muslim houses afire. One may note that while efforts were on by saner people on both sides to prevent the holding of a condolence meeting and a panchayat on August 31, but a crowd thronged the streets on August 300 itself and, surprisingly, the district magistrate allowed the meeting even though Section 144 was already in force. BSP MP Qadir Rana, former MP Saeed-uz-Zaman, MLA Jamil Ahmed and Noor Salim Rana were among those who addressed this meeting. They made their speeches even when top officials of the district were there on the spot along with the police force. 


Forces of majority communalism too were active at the same time. Sangeet Som, BJP MLA from Sardhana, loaded a video footage on Facebook. Copies of a CD made from a video clipping were distributed among the people, showing some Muslims as engaged in arsoning even though the scene belonged to a different country. Later a police raid found all this material at the house of the said MLA. Trained RSS workers began their propaganda activities by concentrating on the Jat majority villages.


About 50,000 people reached the panchayat in Bhandaur on September 7. Many of them were carrying axes and other arms, and threatening the Muslim majority villages en route. Dirty abuses were abundant. This enraged the Muslims too, and some of those going to the panchayat were stoned in Bansi village. When the persons thus injured reached the panchayat, this further enraged the crowd and they killed a young Muslim who was working in his field nearby. The police sensed the danger and got the panchayat concluded immediately. But the returning crowds turned lawless. Attacks from the other side also started.


Riots started immediately in the city. There was firing in Khadarwala, Lattawala and Qidwai Nagar areas. The firing killed one TV journalist. A vehicle with SP flag was put to fire. Some of those returning from the panchayat were attacked in Mudera; two persons were killed here. In all, 10 persons were killed on the day. Curfew was imposed in three thana areas --- Mandi, Civil Lines and Kotwali --- by the evening. One person was killed in Shamli and two in Bahsuma in Meerut. Violence spread to villages by the next day and 16 more were killed. The city and several villages were handed over to the army. The situation so much deteriorated in Kutwa village that the army had to rescue about a thousand Muslims and take them to safety in the police station campus. Four persons were killed here.


The panchayat was organised on the slogan of “Save Our Women.” The speakers too used the same language --- that Muslims were out to molest Hindu girls and women, and that they were deliberating marrying Jat girls. This was clearly meant to provoke the Jats. Notorious BJP leaders like Sangeet Som, Bharatendu, Suresh Rana and Satpal Malik had addressed the panchayat. Rakesh Tikait apologised for having announced the cancellation of the earlier panchayat. Thus the Jat community was looking totally swayed by the communal campaign of the BJP. So-called solutions were also offered for the problems --- like “Only Narendra Modi can save our honour and dignity from the Muslims’ onslaughts.” Even the leaders of the Rashtriya Lok Dal were feeling compelled to speak the anti-minority language in view of this saffronite influence on the Jat community.


Muzaffar Nagar and Shamli were under the army’s control by the time of going to press, while stray incidents of arson, beatings, putting houses afire etc and discovery of dead bodies were being reported from villages. There was tension in Meerut, Hapur, Buland Shahar, Ghaziabad, Aligarh, Saharanpur and Bijnor, which may take an explosive turn any time.         


It is clear that a planned conspiracy, hatched by the RSS and BJP, has been there behind these riots. As the temple issue and the so called Modi magic were not working in western Uttar Pradesh, it appears that the Sangh Parivar has changed its tactic here. The acts of crime by some Muslims are being utilised to perpetrate riots in the whole area. Earlier in August 2013, they had indeed tried to incite riots in Jiwant village in Buland Shahar district, at Khurja, Syana and some other places.


The SP government of Uttar Pradesh, led by Akhilesh Yadav, has failed to curb these elements. More than 140 small or big communal clashes have taken place across the state in the last one and a half years. This indicates a worsening of the communal situation in UP. It seems the Akhilesh government has lost its control over the administrative machinery. The events of Muzaffar Nagar are a case in point; callousness of the administration was more than evident here. The government’s failure had earlier come to the fore in the Kosi Kala riots. Or, is it so that the Samajwadi Party is the main beneficiary when communal frenzy grips any part of the state? The recent issue of 84 Kosi Parikrama is a clear example. People are wary about the two and half hour long private meeting with Ashok Singhal of the VHP. On the other hand, the RSS and BJP are out to prove that the state government is following the line of “Muslim appeasement.” This has been an old RSS stuff.


In any case, the RSS conspiracy and the state government’s inaction have led to riots in an area where communal harmony prevailed even in the worst days of the country’s partition. The hard-working Jats and Muslims of this area were once known not only for their hard-earned prosperity but also for their brotherhood.


Though the CPI(M) has a negligible presence in this area, the west UP zonal committee of the party observed an Anti-Communal Week here from September 10 to 16. This was through street corner meetings, seminars etc. In Buland Shahar, the party has already organised meetings at 18 places, out of the 60 places included in its programme during September 5 to 22. In these meetings, the CPI(M) is launching strong attacks on the communal forces and the Modi frenzy come what may, and has received positive reaction from the people; only at a few places did the party face some resistance from stray elements. Anti-communal campaign is going on in Bijnor, Mathura and Agra districts as well.


September 11, 2013


muzaffarnagar-district-map.jpg (600×368)