Citizen's Inquiry Report in to Malegaon Riots
blamed for Malegaon violence, The Hindu Nov 11, 2001
EKTA (Committee for Commual Amity) and Nirbhaya Bano Andolan sponsored
a team to investigate the Malegaon riots. The Summary and conclusions
of the report are attached.
Concerned Citizen's Inquiry Report in to Malegaon Riots
The Malegaon riots, which shook Maharashtra, were the first major riots
to have taken place in India after the terrorist attack on World Trade
Centre on September 11. Apart from the large number of deaths, 13, these
riots had some other peculiarities: they occurred in a Muslim majority
town and rapidly spread to a large number of surrounding villages, a phenomenon
seen for the first time on such a large scale in Maharashtra. In the light
of these specificities, we decided to investigate these events in detail.
1. Shama Dalwai, Professor of Economics, Mithibhai College
2. Jyoti Punwani, Freelance journalist
3. Irfan Engineer, Advocate
4. Sandhya Mhatre, Researcher
5. Shakeel Ahmed, Social Activist
6. Sameena Dalwai, Advocate
Summary and Conclusions:
The immediate provocation for the Malegaon riots was the scuffle between
the police and the Muslims over the innocuous distribution of the swadeshi
leaflet. If the police had placed more faith and confidence in Muslims
and not doubted what was just a normal activity, i.e. distribution of
leaflets outside a mosque after Friday namaz, no riot would have ensued
then. As Imtiaz Ahmad points out, "Such violence is usually sparked
off by fairly superficial and trivial causes though underlying them are
deeper considerations of political representation, control of and access
to resources and power etc. These trivial causes come to occupy a symbolic
significance for the group and conflicts arise from any interference with
the group's autonomy, security and identity.''
Before the riots, tension was being built up to consolidate the two
communities behind political parties in the light of the forthcoming
Municipal elections. The communal politicians (BJP-Shiv Sena) have been
trying to organise Hindus, as can be seen in the spate of communal incidents
in Maharashtra, some in villages near Malegaon, mostly targeting Muslims.
Witness the campaign amongst Hindus by the Shiv Sena-Jaanta Raja using
the Karanj Gavan incident of sexually motivated assault on a girl child
on August 18 and giving a communal colour to the incident in the villages
The activities of the Tublic Jamaat had also created resentment among
Hindus in many villages, specially where the outcome of the activities
had been an assertion by the Muslims of their separate cultural identity,
their renovation of old and construction of new mosques, and their withdrawal
from the village tradition of celebrating festivals jointly.
In Malegaon itself, Nihal Ahmad's attempt to win back his base has been
evident at least from March this year. Nihal Ahmed also visited Karanj
Gavan and blew up the incident of attack on its mosque by holding a public
meeting in Malegaon. His orchestrated campaign to whip up Muslim sentiments
over various issues culminated in the anti-US morcha in which pro-Osama
posters were carried by some youth. The State Goverment and the police
proved ineffective in preventing and controlling the riot. During the
riots, the anti-minority attitude of the police resulted in more loss
of life to Muslims. In the very first firing incident, a bullet hit Bilkis
Banu, who was drying clothes in the first floor balcony of her house.
Considering the location of the balcony and the spot where the firing
took place, one can conclude that the bullet
which hit her was not a stray bullet. The police used excessive force
and fired haphazardly on the retreating mob.
The apathy of police towards the Muslims was also evident from the fact
that police totally ignored the injured and left them on the roads to
die. The bias of police is also evident from the fact that they did not
fire on mobs vandalising Muslim properties.
The role of the police officer who gave the shooting orders at Mira Datar
Nagar must be investigated as the firing there was totally uncalled for.
The Shiv Sena used rumours about rape of Hindu women to build up
insecurity and hatred among Hindus all over Maharashtra, whereas the only
case of rape, which we could personally verify, was that of a Muslim woman.
Police made no attempt to counter these rumours. No steps were taken to
book those communal leaders who spread rumours knowing them to be false.
The outcome of the riot has been alienation of Hindus, and to an extent,
of the Muslims from the Congress. Growing support to the Hindutva ideology
was also evident leading to political and social polarisation of the communities.
Nihal Ahmed on one hand and Shiv Sena-Janata Raja on the other hand stand
to benefit from such a polarisation. As it always does, the Sena used
its mouthpiece Saamna to spread its version of the riots.
Ignoring the communal build up over a period of time, the State woke up
only when the tension proved to be threat to law and order problem. However,
in the rural areas, even the meagre law and order machinery is absent.
Those who strive to whip up communal sentiments in rural areas will always
have a free hand. The only way out is mutual understanding and co-operation
between members of both the communities, which is a
long-term, ongoing process which can only be undertaken by committed