By Aditya Kohli, reporting from Bareilly on 13th March 2010
It was a usual Bara-wafaat procession going on for many years (mind it Bareilly is great seat of Sunni Muslim school). The city has unparalleled history of communal harmony and pluralistic life style. No one among my parents and uncles remembers anything ever going wrong between Hindus and Muslims for past as many decades as can possibly be remembered by living generations. Then what went wrong???!!!
This procession was scheduled on the very day of Holi but in line with the communal tolerance and brotherhood the Muslims had agreed to postpone their procession for the next day, as they have been doing for the past many years. On that fateful day of 2nd March 2010,a small group of Muslim boys ( whose collective number was not more than 30) was coming to join in the main body of the procession about a kilometer far off at Koharapeer ( It was not the procession itself which characteristically has some 30-50 thousand individuals as it is made to appear!). As all Bareilly residents know a large number of processionists are kids wearing traditional Islamic attires . When they were passing through a mohalla, the Locals of majority community objected and intimidated the boys. It was hardly few minutes that a volley of brickbats started falling on these boys ( who kept the brickbats in such huge quantity on roof tops?) were things already planned before the flash point?) and many of these processionist boys got injured and started to bleed .They somehow made it to the main procession where after seeing their blood the mob reacted the way it probably should have. The leaders of procession called for police help which did not come in time. They are on official record of giving 30 minutes to the administration to control the miscreants and brick batters But the police won’t come. It was the next day of Holi and possibly the police force was celebrating the Holi as they usually do on next day. Mob has it’s own dynamics and soon the retaliation started resulting in burning of shops which was indiscriminate unlike the popular belief there were many Muslim shops which were completely burned down. This is how the riot started.
Bareilly has unusual strength resulting from centuries of co -existence and inspite of utter failure of the administration the city somehow was about to regain it’s lost pace and when every body thought that by tomorrow curfew shall finally be a history that the administration arrests Sunni Muslim cleric Maulana Tauqeer raza Khan , the National president of powerful IMC or Ittehad e Millat, The political party with widespread acceptance among the minority section of western U.P. that was in the evening of 8th March. It was a very quick arrest made by the D.M. Ashish Goel and the D.I.G. on pre-text of talks over a cup of tea in Kotwali and within two hours he was booked under scores of IPC clauses. Now Maulana is no baby sheep . It is beyond any sane mind’s comprehension that why administration took the matter so casually? Either they should have arrested him on the very day of rioting if they were sure of his involvement ( an allegation which Maulana categorically denies)or logically should have done their home work thoroughly and later when city had normalized they could have pursued the matter .But the administration’s hasty act remains an unsolved mystery till date .it was as if the authorities themselves wanted to aggravate the precariously balanced situation .
In the evening hours of the 11th March, Maulana Tauqeer was released from jail on intervention of Lucknow ministerial top brass by using a novel tool named CPRC 169. The supporters of Maulana and his ancestral Barelvi chair were on dharna sitting calmly in Islamiya School and Azad Inter College demanding Maulana’s unconditional release. Their number was around 30 thousand yet they displayed remarkable discipline and not one of them is reported to have done anything negative except peacefully sitting on dharna for over 30 hours. Their number was increasing with each passing moment and the news of abrupt arrest of a family member of the world famous Aala Hazrat family. The unrest was spreading like a jungle fire and one by one Muslims in many different cities in India and also outside India were registering their protest (which remained entirely peaceful everywhere)
Immediately following the release of their leader Muslim crowd started dispersing off peacefully trying to make it to their respective homes after securing their leader’s release from prison. This was the moment Bajrang Dal and BJP were waiting for . Few paid goons attacked the returning Muslims individuals two of them sustained severe cut by sword at Kaali Baari, The arson had started simultaneously in many parts of Bareilly as if being orchestrated by intelligent beings. The new team of the administration had just arrived and had not even got oriented with things and fighting these goons was a tough job.
On previous night as well before leaving the outgoing D.M. and D.I.G had misplayed their shots ( stupidly or deliberately?) where the senior police officers were seen intimating ( rather intimidating)the peaceful posh Hindu colonies. The officer would come with assumed helplessness and overt sympathy and would inform the confused residents that the police is no more able to defend you all therefore make your own arrangements. This was the worst gimmick played by the administration and it seriously puts a big question mark before their actual intentions. The result was predictable on the intervening night of 10-11 March 2010, no one slept in Bareilly, everyone was scared by faceless terror. The entire Bareilly was engulfed by mass hysteria where each colony thought the rioters are coming any moment. In Rajendra Nagar area some hundreds of the slogan shouting and arms waving (yes arms amidst Curfew!) men most of whom were well known right wing activists belonging to VHP, Bajrang dal and BJP etc. were seen whose photo was published in 11th March Jagran newspaper.
on 11th and 12th, the Bajrang Dal and similar outfits were busy vandalizing, looting and burning Muslim owned shops and property and police and paramilitary forces had tough time containing the mayhem till the writing of this report.
They seem desperate and are ready to use medium of terror and rioting to instill insecurity, fear and mistrust in the heart of the residents of Bareilly.
The question arises who shall be benefitted by all this?
The answer does not require any extra intelligence than normally we ordinary humans are gifted with.
These are the means by which BJP, Bajrang Dal and similar communal outfits are trying to regain their badly lost territory.
The polarization of votes will help Right wing to garner more seats in upcoming Vidhansabha and later loksabha elections. This polarization has been a tested method by which Advaniji had gained power following Babri Mosque destruction. In recent times Varun Gandhi has won the last M.P election by delivering hate speeches against the minority community of Pilibhit, Otherwise he was surely a badly defeated candidate.
On the evening of the release of Maulana, the Muslim boys were attacked in vicinity of sitting BJP MLA Mr.Rajesh Agarwal who is reported to have played important role in provoking retaliation. Consequently, most burnt shops are in Kaali Baari locality where Rajeshji resides.
All over there are signs that the political tiger is on prawl and is targetting the innocent, peaceful societies like that of Bareilly where the only way people have known is co-existence, where the monuments like chunna Miyan ka Mandir, Alakhnath Temple and Khanqah e Niyazia stand tall as a testimony to centuries of love and brotherhood among the Hindus and the Muslims.
It is not surprising that BJP has declared three member committee to probe the Bareilly riots it is headed by none other than Maneka Gandhiji and has controversial M.P from Gorakhpur as her team member, I wonder why services of Togadiaji and Vinay Katiyar have not been taken?.Or maybe like a seasoned players, Aces are kept reserved for the last round of poker.
There is no end to being biased and hunt for conspiracy theories but let us not dismiss the facts which are so obvious.
I have tried to maintain full honesty in reporting the incidences as they are and my tolerant/ secular/ pluralistic upbringing lets me put these facts before the world to see them as they are! Not as they are made to appear by various netizens.