PUCL November 2001
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.
The team divided itself into groups to interview various people and to visit different sites in Malegaon city.
The team visited village Karanj Gavan, near Malegaon, which was also affected by violence in Malegaon.
Background of Malegaon
Malegaon tahsil has 150 villages and 2 towns. Malegaon consists of three distinct parts Viz. The older quarter of the city, the Camp and the Sangameshwar village on the left bank of the Mosam river and connected with the rest of the town by a causeway across the river.
The geographical area of Malegaon is 12.95 sq km. According to the 1991 census, the population of Malegaon city was 3.42 lakh and density of population is 26,455 per sq. km. The current population is over four lakh.
Malegaons main source of employment is the power loom industry. According to the 1991 census, Malegaon is classified as an industrial city. 62 per cent of main workers are employed in industries, reflecting the prominence of the power loom industry in the city. Muslims form a large proportion of those employed in weaving units, which produce gray cloths.
In Malegaon city, a considerable proportion of the population lives in slums with lack of basic amenities such as drinking water, toilet facilities and even electric connections. In 1991, the number of hospitals was 3 and dispensaries 5. In addition, there were 6 health clinics and 2 family planning centres. The number of beds in medical institutions was just 64. This shows the poor medical facilities in Malegaon city.
In 1991, the literacy rate in Malegaon was 56%, 62 percent for males and 49 percent for females. For urban Maharashtra, the literacy rates were 79% for the entire population and 86% and 71%, for males and females respectively. Thus comparatively, the literacy rate in Malegaon is much lower.
According to the 1991 census, Muslims formed around three-fourths of the total population of Malegaon. The next major community was Hindu. In 1991, Malegaon had a very small proportion of SC. and ST population, 2.87 and 1.52 per cent respectively.
It is interesting to relate how Malegaon became a Muslim-majority city. The Muslim community in Malegaon historically grew from waves of migration particularly from north India and also partly from Hyderabad. Above 200 years back, Malegaon was a kasba (a small place) and was called Maliwadi (hamlet of gardeners). One of the Sardars of Bajirao Peshwa, Naroshankar, was given 18 villages including Maliwadi as a jagir by a Commander of Mugal forces Badshah Muhammad Aizuddin Gazi. Naroshankar made Maliwadi his residential quarters and started constructing a fort in 1740, the construction of which took around 20 years to be completed.
For building the fort Naroshankar invited a number of engineers, stone cutter an artisan, who were mostly Muslims from the north, especially suburbs of Delhi. This was the first time a sizeable number of Muslims came to settle in Maliwadi. These Muslim artisans also brought their language Urdu for the first time to Maliwadi. Some of the Muslim artisans came from Surat and Broach too. The artisans lived in a basti (settlement) opposite to the fort, across the river, which is today known as Sangmeshwar. After coming to Muslims, Maliwadi became Malegaon.
There were some Egyptian soldiers in the army of Malegaon. Gopalrao also had a few Rohilla Sepoys serving him. Both Egyptian and Rohilla soldiers were Muslims. The first Idgah (where Idd prayers are performed) in Malegaon was built by one of the Rohilla sepoys Dilawar Khan in 1816. Gopalrao was a disciple of Bhikhan Shah, a Muslim saint, whose grave even today exists at the confluence of Mosam and Girna.
When the British captured the Malegaon fort in 1818, they invited Muslims of Hyderabad from Nizam's territory to Malegaon. Some Muslims migrated from Hyderabad to Malegaon, and most of them settled in the cantonment area. After the munity in 1857, many Momins, the largest number of Muslims ever to migrate to Malegaon, came from north India to Malegaon in search of security. In 1862, Muslims from Banaras who were mostly weavers, as there was a famine around this time, too migrated to Malegaon. Thus, it appears that the Muslim community in Malegaon grew from waves of migration particularly from north.
Industry in Malegaon
With the introduction of power looms, the cloth industry in Malegaon flourished due to increased productivity. Many people bought power looms and very few were left with handlooms. As a result, many more Muslims weavers from U.P., Khandesh and Deccan migrated to Malegaon. These migrants created slums for the first time in Malegaon. Kamalpura, the first and the biggest slum in Malegaon, was established in the 1940s. Later many more slums were created as the political and social turmoil in Hyderabad in the late 1940s and 50s and the riots in 1960s led to massive migration of Muslims into Malegaon. The influx was so large that three new municipal wards came into existence.
Even now for a majority
of Muslims, weaving continues to be the main occupation. Women and children
work on the loom or undertake associated operations.
Traditionally, the power loom industry has been neatly divided along communal lines: Hindus have a monopoly over the yarn manufacturing units, while Muslims control the weaving units. Trading of the cloth that is woven is again in the hands of the Hindu community. There has always been an element of conflict between yarn manufacturers and weavers in the power loom industry in India. Weavers feel that yarn manufacturers take advantage of their control over the market to hike yarn prices and get an unfair share of the profit, while weavers are left with next to nothing. In Malegaon, since the yarn manufacturers are Hindus and the weavers are Muslims, this tension between the two can easily take a communal form.
Malegaon of late has been diversifying and new industries are rapidly expanding. PVC pipe manufacturing is one such industry. Malegaon is soon becoming a regional centre for PVC pipes. Both communities want to benefit from this new growing industry. This competition is another source of conflict and tension. In the recent riots, it is significant that newly growing industries were particularly targeted.
The State Reserve Police was stationed outside the masjid in view of the fallout of previous Friday's morcha in Malegaon, which had been organised by Janata Dal (S) state president Nihal Ahmed to protest the US bombing of Afghanistan. Some processionsists had carried posters of Osama Bin Laden and the morcha had created communal tension.
While the leaflets were being distributed, an SRP constable snatched them and tore them and put a sheaf of them inside the van. It is alleged that he even beat up the concerned youth, and tried to push him inside the van.
People coming out of the masjid, who had already been told of the contents of the leaflet felt outraged at the way the youth was being handled by the police and began surrounding the SRP party, shouting agitatedly.
Outnumbered, the police released the young man who had been distributing the leaflets. But the restive mob was not satisfied - they wanted the concerned police constable to be arrested or suspended on the spot. They also vent their anger on the van.
As the police floundered, the mob kept swelling on this narrow but busy street - it was Friday, market day.
Mufti Mohammed Ismail, the Imam of the Jama Masjid, then came out and climbing on the police van, asked the mob to sit down. According to him, they obeyed him. He told us he assured them that the matter would be pursued and convinced them to disperse. According to him, as news of this scuffle spread, the local MLA, Sheikh Rashid arrived on the scene with some people. However, the MLA told us that when he went there, the crowd was very much there and though he tried to pacify them, they were in no mood to listen. He was himself manhandled and he left the place.
In the meantime, police reinforcements seemed to have arrived and they conducted a lathi-charge. The mob started running and in the melee, a Navratrostav pandal on the way was damaged - unintentionally, we were told. After the lathi-charge, the Muslims began throwing stones at the police. Some Muslims allege that as soon as the Navratrotsav pandal was damaged, the leaders of the newly-formed organisation Jaanta Raja, who were watching the scene from across the Mosam River in the Hindu-dominated Sangameshwar area, started burning Muslim shops. This was around 3.30 p.m. We visited the area and the Hindus confirmed that the seven shops located on the land owned by a mosque, including the Munna cycle shop owned by a Muslim, were damaged at around 3.30 p.m.
These Muslims further alleged that seeing the Muslim shops burning across the Mosam River, a Muslim mob gathered on this side of the river as well and started burning Hindu shops in retaliation. The Gupta Dairy was the first shop to be set on fire, around 3.30 pm.
However, other Muslims agree with the police and the newspaper Sakal's version that the Gupta dairy was the first to be burnt in Malegaon on that day. It appears that burning and attacks on shops of the 'other' community began simultaneously in the Muslim area of Mohamed Ali road and the Hindu area of Sangameshwar.
Mr. Deshpande, who owns a shop of electronic items on Mohammed Ali Road, told us that when he reached his shop at 3.30 p.m., it was already on fire and the metal shelves had half-melted. Haji Ibrahim Seth's National Garage and all the other Muslim-owned garages on Mosam Bridge were burnt at 4.00p.m.
Some Muslims told us that three Muslim mobs gathered that afternoon: the first comprising namazis coming out of the mosque, who were dispersed by the Mufti; the second came there after Rashid Shaikh landed up there and were dispersed by the lath-charge, and the third gathered on the main road as they learnt that Muslim shops were being burnt in Hindu areas. Yet another version was that this last mob assembled below the Janata Dal Office allegedly on the JD's instigation.
We could not verify whether there were in fact three mobs or it was one and the same angry group of Muslims who came out of the masjid and then ran to the main road. According to the police and Sakal reporter, Pradeep Sawant, it was the same mob. Perhaps the police may not have noted the fine distinction - if at all it existed - and perceived the mob as a militant mob, which refused to disperse. This perception might have led the police to use excessive force.
Police reinforcements began assembling at Peri Chowk, the junction of Mohammed Ali Road and Kidwai Road, where looting and burning of Hindu shops had commenced. The police say they asked the mob to disperse by using the public address system. However, the mob continued throwing stones on the police. Some Muslims said this was because they knew Muslim shops were burning across the flames could be seen from this side.
Here we must comment on the strange notion of bravery that has developed particularly among the youth guided by communal propaganda. It consists not in confronting violent mobs of the other community, but in retaliating by attacking soft targets of the other community - a safe and rather cowardly method.
The first police firing took place between 3.30 and 4.30 at Peri Chowk, and it was directed towards the Muslim mob, which was burning Hindu shops. 21 rounds were fired, three people died and 10 were injured (figures given by the Superintendent of Police).
Among those who died was Bilkis Bano, who was drying clothes on the first floor of her house, at least 700 to 800 metres away from Peri Chowk. She was hit in the chest and collapsed on the spot.
Bilkis Bano's brother told us that the firing continued even as the mob was retreating and the two others were hit while they were running away.
As the streets are narrow, people who had come to this busy bazar street to make their weekly purchases after getting their weekly wages were also trapped. After visiting the spot and talking to the victims, we feel that the policemen, some of whom were injured in the stone throwing, might have continued firing on the retreating mob.
One such victim: Rizwan Ahmed Iqbal Ahmed, whom we met in Farhan hospital, had gone to buy cloth on Kidwai Road. Hearing people shout - bhago police aa rahi hai- he started running and was hit on the left foot from the back.
The violence quickly spread all over the city and by evening, the entire vegetable market had been burnt. (corrected) Peripheral areas such as Dyane, originally a village but now simply an extension of Malegaon, were also caught in the violence by the evening.
At about 6.30 p.m., a Muslim mob of thousands began throwing stones and petrol-soaked rags and bottle bombs in Dyane. Bhimrao Patil the ex-Sarpanch of Dyane's gram panchayat, and an NCP member, told us that the Hindus, numbering around 250, threw stones back at the Muslims. One PSI, one API and 6 police constables were on duty in the area, while a police van would come and go. Patil urged the police to station one vehicle there, but they just kept reassuring them, he said. Only at 5 am did they arrange a bandobast.
By then it was too late. Despite the police picket firing directly on the mob - without any lathi-charge - and one person dying in the firing, the police could not prevent Navkiran Sizing Mills, belonging to Nimba Kadam, two PVC pipe factories belonging to Sharad Deshmukh and Praful Gidia and two wakhaars owned by Gujaratis, from being burnt.
Dyane had never been affected during previous riots in Malegaon. The two communities have financial dealings, said Patil. But this time, he said, the Muslims were instigated by the announcement on loudspeakers from the masjid: viz. Allah-ho-Akbar and Jagte raho, which went on all night. As always, gundas took advantage of the situation. The Hindus complained to the Collector about what they perceived as misuse of mosque loudspeakers.
Kiran Deshmukh, Pujari of the Datta mandir said that at night, an 8-10,000-strong mob from Ramzanpura came towards Dyane village. They had gathered at the mosque in response to the call from its loudspeakers : "Noujawano Dyane gaon par hamla karo". He saw youngsters on motorbikes carrying petrol bombs. However, the SP told us that no such directions to attack were given from the loudspeakers.
Datta mandir is on the border of Dyane and Ramzanpura. While Dyane is outside Malegaon's Municipal boundaries, Ramzanpura is a part of the town. The pujari lives next to the temple. As he heard the mob approaching, he ran into the village. Later he found the mob had destroyed the idol, broken the tiles of the temple, and also damaged the trees near it.
On the other side, in Camp, a Hindu majority area, looting and burning started at around 6.00 p.m. A Hindu vegetable vendor told us that identification of Muslim houses and shops had begun as early as 2.00 p.m. (i.e., during the arguments between the police and Muslims). Rumours were systematically spread about Muslim mobs coming to attack and about atrocities on Hindu women. Sanjay Joshi, a social activist, told us that even while the Muslim shops were being attacked, the police were merely watching and even hid themselves from the view of the rioters. The mobs damaged not only the mosque in the graveyard here, but also tore the Quran and even tried to break and burn the tombstones. A local madarsa was also badly damaged.
In Sangameshwar, attempts to set on fire the Muslim owned Diamond Power loom Complex began at 5 pm. The entire complex was gutted, the spindles and looms burnt to the bone, the outer wall broken. A popular ex-councillor and a Congress member Khalil Ahmed was done to death here as he was offering namaz in the masjid inside the complex. The masjid too was badly burnt. Khalil's death shocked his Hindu Congress colleagues who remembered him as a gentle person, who was "probably killed only because of his beard''.
A major confrontation took place between both communities around 7.30 P.M. on the ground between Salimnagar, Hira - Panna, Nihalnagar (Hindu Basti) and Kalikutti Masjid and Dargah which is situated on the banks of the Mosam river.
Around 10,000 persons came from the side of Salimnagar, assembled in the ground between Salimnagar, Hira- Panna, Nihalnagar and Kalikutti Masjid and Darga which is situated on the banks of Mosam river. They burnt down seven houses of Hindus in Nihalnagar close to the ground, along with a shop, an animal shed, etc. The Hanuman mandir nearby was attacked too, and the idol bore scratches. An adjacent gymnasium was also looted.
This mob of Muslims had gathered before the Auliya masjid first, from where azaan was going on, and there were continuous calls on the loudspeaker like: Islam khaare main hai Ai momino, masjid shahid ho gai hai, maidan main jamaa ho jaao.
The Hindus told us that they had good relations with the Muslims in the surrounding areas till now. Even on December 6 every year we are fine, but they overdid it this time. All the affected Hindus were living with their relatives when we visited the area, while keeping a watch on their ruined houses. Only a few of them had received compensation from the government.
The police on duty at Kalikutti Darga gave us an account of that night. 10-20,000 persons gathered together like a storm (Sosatyachi Vavatal). We were 2/3 policemen on duty, we ran to our main office which is not far.
We also met the bangi (the man who gives Bang) of the mosque, who took us to the rear of the mosque and showed us the spot where the Hindus had tried to burn it. Not much damage had been done.
This very spot where Mosam river divides the Muslim majority area and the Hindu dominated Shriram Nagar, was the site of the murder of rickshaw driver Bapu Bachav. We heard various accounts of Bachavs killing. A fight seems to have taken place between the two communities here. Bachav was accompanied by some more Hindu youth. They were overpowered. The rest of his companions ran away but he was caught by the Muslim mob. He was stabbed around 52 times and then thrown in to bonfire. Bachav, thus brutally killed, was the only Hindu victim of the riots.
A Muslim journalist, Mr. Razak, who reached the site just after Bachav was killed, told us that this former Shiv Sainik upapramukh, had come there with a mob to burn down the Kalikutti masjid. He had a can of kerosene with him. The SP Raj Vardhan corroborated this version. Mr Razak said the police landed up after Bachav was set on fire.
According to this journalist, he himself tried to stop the Muslims from damaging the temple, but the mob had become so out of control that they poured kerosene on him. The police then resorted to a lathi-charge.
The Shiv Sena says Bachav had gone there to rescue Hindu women in his rickshaw.
Naya Islampura, Vijay nagar, Hinglaj nagar: all on Kusumba Road in Vijaynagar, where the town's boundaries merge into Dyane The Muslim mob came here around 7.30pm and the attack went on till 10.30 pm. Hindu shops and homes were selectively chosen and attacked, with gas cylinders being used to burn them. A mandir was targeted, but while the courtyard of the house in front of it was badly affected by the fire - the melted twisted tin from their roof had flown up and stuck in the branches of the tree above with the impact of the explosion -the mandir had not been damaged.
The mobs burnt the TV repair shop - cum STD - booth of Baliram Tisge, a former Congress Councillor and senior party member, at about 8.30 p.m. The mob of 2 to 3 thousand people, he said, seemed to belong to the Janata Dal (Check)(retain thisI checked it) and had stones, bottles and swords in their hands.
The police did not put in an appearance. The fire raged all night and fire engines from Nasik had to put out the fire. The power could only be restored after four days.
The residents here were lower middle class Hindus who had never been affected to this extent in earlier riots. An old woman said she had never been touched even when she lived in Hazaar Kholi, a Muslim area, but this time her house has been damaged though she lived alongside other Hindus.
Some of the residents lost everything in the fire, since they had not thought of evacuating their homes in advance. "It has never happened here!'' they explained. They blamed Nihal Ahmed for the riots - he was also the only politician not to have visited them.
The loss was not only of homes, but also of their means of livelihood: a handcart, a sugarcane machine, a cattle shed. A hairdresser's salon had its mirrors and furniture damaged. Ironically, since it was a Friday, there was a greater rush, said the barber, and he could only take a break for lunch at 4.15 p.m. They closed their shutters at 5 p.m., when they heard of the violence in the heart of the town.
When we visited the salon, it was full of Muslim and Hindu customers. The barber said work had resumed in a week, with the same customers back. Some of them do express regrets. His proprietor had no plans to shift. He said, Our life is here.
Rioting continued all night in Malegaon, with those who were in minority areas dominated by the other community, fleeing to `their own' areas. The police were conspicuous by their absence, said victims of both communities.
Around 2-am eyewitness told us that the police picket on Mohammed Ali Road burnt a Muslim shop. The charge doesn't seem impossible: it seems unlikely that Hindus would dare to burn Muslim shops in this Muslim area.
By the next morning, the surrounding villages witnessed violence, even as it continued in Malegaon. More than 100 villages were affected. The army was called out on Saturday, but could only conduct flag marches in the absence of orders to fire.
A major incident on the next day was the desecration of the Durga idol in the temple in Pawar Gali in the morning. The mob broke the lock outside the temple door. The ceiling and the back door were sooty, indicating that the mob had tried to set fire to the temple. The police quickly repaired the broken grill and replaced the idol with a smaller one. Chhagan Bhujbal had visited the temple after the riots.
This is the third attack on this temple. It was attacked in 92 and again this year in May, when a stray bottle thrown on a mosque resulted in a counter-attack on the temple. Gymnasium nearby was also ransacked and its equipment damaged.
The police firing in Mira Datar Nagar took place on Sunday, 28th October. Mira Datar Nagar is situated on the outskirts of Malegaon on the eastern side of the Bombay-Agra Highway. To reach it, one has to cross a massive expanse of vacant ground. Then comes a power loom unit, a few meters away the mosque, and surrounding these two, the basti. There are roughly 200 houses here, all Muslim. . The basti is almost isolated and cut off from its surroundings, as if it had nothing to do with the rest of the town.
Being on the outskirts and on account of its isolation, one can understand why curfew in the town may not have any impact in this basti. We were told by all those we met there, that on the fateful day, the situation was normal and everyone in the basti was involved in their daily routine, as if oblivious to the riots in the rest of Malegaon.
The residents told us that boys were playing cricket on the ground adjacent to the Highway at around 4.00 p.m. Seeing two police vans on the Highway, the boys - perhaps aware that they were breaking curfew orders - got scared and ran towards the basti. The police followed them.
The mosque here, called Maqdumiya Ashrafiya, has also rented its premises for residential purposes. Suspecting that some of the boys may have hidden themselves in one such residence, the police started banging the door of the house with rifle butts. When no one opened it, the police broke open the door. An old lady, Rashida bi, was hit on her face as she was right behind the door.
The police found no one inside. Meanwhile, seeing the police breaking a house, which belonged to the mosque, people started gathering. The police then took up firing position and started firing. The residents said that as they were firing, the police were challenging the mob to come forward if they dared to, saying "aao maidan maein".
By that time, from the loudspeaker on the mosque, it was being announced not to go forward towards the police. As people ran for cover from the firing, the police got into their respective vans and continued firing even as the vans were returning.
Three people died in the firing: Ahmed Khan Murad Khan, Mehdi Hasan and Riyaz. We met the wife and mother of Ahmed Khan Murad Khan, a 22-year-old who used to repair cookers and stoves by going door to door. Due to curfew, he had not been able to go to work for two days. At about 4.00 p.m., he had gone to answer nature's call on the open ground, which is normally used for this purpose. A bullet hit him at that time.
Ahmed Khan's mother told us that announcements were being made from the mosque to the effect "Masjid shahid ki ja rahi hai ai momino aao." Hearing this, people ran towards the mosque. Ahmed Khan is survived by his mother, wife and a child delivered just two weeks ago (Before he deid or before we visited him?
Mehdi Hasan resides in Bajrangwada, and had come to visit his brother. Riyaz had come to play cricket from Salamatabad.
Next day, i.e. Monday, 29th October, the police came again to arrest some people, probably to justify and cover up there totally uncalled-for firing. Five people were arrested: - Arif Ali Mohd. and Yaseen Ali Mohd. - both brothers, 25 & 18years old, respectively; Faiyaz Ahmed age-22, Munir Ahmed age-30 and Giasuddin age-30.
The police justified the firing on the ground that a nearby power station would have been burnt by the mob had the police not fired. This reminds us of the tanker-in-danger-of-being-burnt theory propounded by the Mumbai police to justify firing at an agitated crowd of Dalits in July 97, and killing 10 of them in Ramabai Nagar, Ghatkopar. But the Gundewar Commission has rejected the tanker theory in toto and held the policeman who ordered the firing - PSI Kadam - guilty. There is no power station near the spot where the firing took place and where the dead were found. The police justification therefore appears concocted.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Dussane told us that arms were found in the mosque after the firing in Datar Nagar. But the police have made no such claim.
Malegaon had to go without water for a few days as rioters breached the main pipeline in 11 places. Tyre marks of heavy vehicles were seen near the spots where the pipeline had been breached. In this riot, residents said they saw for the first time the use of petrol bombs and gas cylinders to set properties on fire.
We heard a few stories of neighbours saving each other: a Jain merchant, despite knowing that his cloth shop was burning on the main road, sheltered a Muslim cloth seller in his home for four days, till curfew was lifted. The Muslim had come to show him some cloth samples, and while they were looking at them, the riot began.
Haji Ibrahim Sheth drove Hindu families in his neighbourhood, while the riots were on, in his own vehicle to a safe location in Soyegaon.
The SP told us that in Malegaon, 8 Muslims died in police firing, and 13 were injured. 5 persons - 4 Muslims and 1 Hindu died in mob violence. Two temples and three mosques were damaged. 102 policemen and 20 officers were injured.
Rioting in Malegaon continued till Sunday, while in the villages it went on till Wednesday. Violence in the villages was mostly one-sided, against Muslims. It began on the night of the 26th, and by the 29th, it had spread as far as Dhule and Jalgaon districts (see Annex B).
It is observed from
the Dainik Sakal that violence in the villages particularly against Muslims.
Though large numbers of villages were affected by riots, as a team we
could visit only two villages near Malegaon:
While we could get first-hand knowledge only of two villages, after reading the newspapers of that time, we gathered that the violence here was of two types:
1. The mobs would come down the main highway or ZP road, attack Muslim shops situated there for e.g. mutton shops, pan stalls, garages, and then enter the villages and target Urdu schools, madarsas and mosques.
2. A bandh would be declared to denounce the Malegaon riots. Photographs of Laden and Nihal Ahmed would be burnt - all this on the highway. In Kalwan, Muslims burnt these photographs. This was followed by a maha arti after which Hindu women garlanded Nihal Ahmed's photograph with chappals. Newspapers reported this as a ``unique sight of national integration''.
Some of the major incidents in the villages were the killing of a Pesh Imam Hasan Ali in Galne and the attack on its masjid on October 29; the riot which followed a `silent protest march' in Vinchur, for which the Deputy- Sarpanch was arrested; and the hoisting of saffron flag on the mosque at Chandwad.
(B) Effects of
as reported in Indian Express (7th November 2001), a Sena-BJP delegation
met Minorities Commission Chairman Amin Khandwani to ask him for protection.
He replied that protection would be theirs if they guaranteed protection
to the Muslims in the villages.
The Karanj Gavan
But the Sena and Jaanta Raja, a newly-formed organization, supposedly inspired by the late Anand Dighe and said to be pro-BJP, gave the incident a communal colour and brought their cadre from a nearby village to attack Muslims in Karanj Gavan. Those injured included some visiting Tublic Jamaat members.
The issue reverberated in Malegaon, where the girl was brought for treatment. The boy was also traced and arrested there. The injured Tublic members also returned to Malegaon with their story. Interestingly, we learnt that the Congress MLA Shaikh Rashid tried to play it down (he has been elected with the support of the Sena-BJP) but his arch rival Nihal Ahmed held a public meeting of Muslims in Malegaon on the issue, where he highlighted the attack on the mosque in Karanj Gavan, and alleged that Shaikh had sold himself to the Hindus.
The College Incident:
While the student's act may well have been promoted by admiration for Laden an indicator of the latter's growing cult status among Muslim youth - the principal's response defies all logic. Is it a crime to put a clipping of Osama or anybody on the college's News notice board, which has already appeared in the national newspapers? Couldn't the college authorities have dealt with this on their own?
This defeat ended Ahmed's 22-year uninterrupted reign over Malegaon as MLA. He has been MLA six times here. Ever since his defeat, say residents; he has lost no opportunity to stir up communal feelings. For instance, while all over India Muslims reacted in a low-key manner to the burning of the Koran in Delhi by Bajrang Dal members, in ultra-sensitive Malegaon, Nihal Ahmed held a public meeting to denounce the act and specifically to expose the claim of Maharashtra's Home Minister that news of the burning was just a rumour.
It must be mentioned here that there are certain implications of the activities undertaken by the Tublic Jamaat, specially in the villages. Since their activities basically amount to spreading awareness of their own religion among Muslims, they seem innocuous. However, their interpretation of religion, if fully practised in letter and spirit, would require Muslims to assert themselves as culturally different, for e.g., wearing a certain type of attire, or growing beards. It would also lead them to distance themselves from and denounce the composite culture found in villages, which involves participation in village festivals such as Urs and jatras. Hindus naturally resent this attitude and this results in alienation of those who practice Tublic teachings. This also contributes to communal tension in the rural areas.
The VHP and Bajrang Dal have been particularly active in nearby villages with their campaign for building of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya. The VHP plans to mobilise thousands of volunteers from all over India to assemble at Ayodhya by March 12, 2002, the date they have announced for the beginning of the reconstruction of the temple. In an interview in MID-DAY (December 6, 2001), the Maharashtra secretary of the Bajrang Dal described the campaign as a Dharmayudh' against 'Islamic and Christian terrorism'. The interview revealed that mosques in particular are being vilified in the campaign as storehouses of arms.
Significantly, villages in Sangli, Jalgaon and Nasik have seen a spate of riots this year.
The October 19th
This morcha reinforced in their mind the growing stereotype of Islam as a terrorism-promoting religion of which Osama Bin laden is a symbol. Since Septemeber 11, anti-Muslim sentiments were strongly prevalent here.
The Role of the
Police in the Riots
It remains a mystery
why the army was not asked to control the situation in Malegaon on Saturday,
October 27, when it seemed clear that the police could not do so.
The police point to the posting of the SRP outside the Jama Masjid on October 26 as a precautionary measure. This is adding insult to injury. The SRP is not trained to handle sensitive situations. More importantly, it has shown in riot after riot its anti-Muslim attitude.
Secondly, if indeed the police were taking precautions, how is it that they had not stocked up on tear-gas shells. Had they done so, perhaps so many persons may not have died in police firing. A measure of their ``precaution on that day is the absence from the town of the SP.
Posting an Urdu-knowing policeman outside the masjid on that day would seem the obvious thing to have done. Yet, this was not done, hence the contents of the leaflet remained a mystery to the police despite the English banner of ``Be Indian Buy Indian. One wonders whether any Urdu-knowing policeman can be found in the police force of this Muslim-majority, communally sensitive town.
The police have no excuse for not being able to have prevented this riot. The 92-93 Mumbai riots have surely not been forgotten by the police. The Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry, which investigated the riots, has listed several measures on riot prevention. Had they wanted to, the police in Malegaon and their superiors in Mumbai could have implemented these measures.
The Srikrishna Commission recommends as a riot-prevention measure that police should interact closely with the public and meticulously document & crosscheck intelligence inputs something, which the police should be doing anyway. The Commission has also recommended that processions in sensitive areas and during periods of communal tension are forbidden; that communal propaganda is immediately curbed and Rapid Action Force units are kept on stand-by.
A document compiled
by the Home Department in 1986 lists the guidelines which police must
follow while dealing with communal disturbances. This document has been
referred to in the Srikrishna Commission report. Significantly, In Chapter
II Para 2.4 the guidelines in no uncertain terms identify 13 parties/organizations
in Maharashtra as communal. Heading the list are the RSS and the Shiv
Sena. These organizations were very active in the villages around Malegaon
for many months before the riots, but the police seem to have ignored
Once the riot began,
the polices handling of the situation also raises some questions.
The explanation probably lies in the police bias against the minority community, evident from the above instances. This bias has been well-documented by Justice B N Srikrishna's Inquiry into the 92-93 Mumbai riots, and has come through in most communal riots all over India. Police, while dealing with minorities, Dalits, industrial workers and tribals, i.e. deprived sections of society, seem to become utterly trigger-happy.
One reason for this bias is the very low percentage of Muslims in the police force. This has serious consequences: in this specific riot, the polices ignorance of the contents of the leaflet being distributed outside Jam Masjid led to them over-reacting. One reason why the police are so insensitive with minorities in every riot is that minorities have barely any representation in it. Like all other sections of society, policemen too have their biases. Since the police force in our country is largely made up of the majority community, it reflects the biases of that community. Hence the necessity to recruit, as a policy, members of every community in the force.
No attempt has been made by the authorities to counter this anti-minority bias during the polices training and later. Justice Srikrishnas recommendation that the police should be de-communalised and his specific suggestions on how this should be done, seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
But while the police have ignored this and most other recommendations of the Commission, they are fully aware of the Commissions recommendation of strict action against policemen who killed innocent persons or shielded rioters or themselves rioted in the Mumbai riots. The government has now appointed a judicial commission to probe the Malegaon riots. It is learnt that the Malegaon police have made it clear to the Home Minister that if this commission indicts them as the Srikrishna Commission and the Gundewar Commission did, and if the government takes legal action against them as it has against ex-CP of Mumbai Ram Deo Tyagi, and SRP Inspector Manohar Kadam, they will never take action against a riotous mob again.
Here it must be pointed out that the theory of police demoralisation by the Tyagi and Kadam episodes is used only to justify police inaction. Thus when the Sena ran amok after Anand Dighe's death in Thane, the police attributed their own inactivity to the FIR against Tyagi and his so-called arrest. But when just two months after the Thane episode, the police were confronted by a violent mob of Muslims in Malegaon, they lost no time in swinging their lathis and reaching for their guns. No demoralization was evident then.
After the firing too, the police showed insensitivity to the victims families. The families of those who died and who were injured in the firing told us that the police neither took the injured to the hospital nor did they help the relatives to do so. These families did not even get curfew passes to take the injured to the hospital.
As soon as it came to power, the government should have instructed the Home Department to study the Srikrishna Commission Report and initiate implementation of short-term and long-term measures of riot prevention and control, to which the Commission has devoted a long chapter.
In Malegaon, on the day the riot broke out, all the officials occupying the top decision-making posts in the town were away: the DM, the SDM and the SP. Given the steady build up in communal tension since August, how was this allowed to happen?
The government has now appointed a one-man commission comprising retired High Court Judge, Justice K.N. Patil to investigate the riots. We hope this is not made an excuse, as the Srikrishna Commission was, for inaction against riot accused, including policemen who indulged in unprovoked, excessive or indiscriminate firing. Mumbai's riot victims are already asking: " When the government does not have the will to implement the Srikrishna Commission Report, why appoint another commission? Just to fool people?'
However, while communal parties may be expected to act communally, the Congress, and the NCP, despite professing to be secular parties, seem unwilling to prevent the activities of the communal forces, specially the gradual and systematic spread of communal poison in all sections of civil society, even those previously left untouched by it, e.g., the rural areas. At best the ruling parties in Maharashtra act as spectators to this process; at worst, they take electoral advantage of the situation.
Meanwhile, when a riot erupts taking them by surprise, they look upon it merely as a law-and-order problem, and even fail to control it as such.
As for the other 'secular parties, which support this government -the Janata Dal, the PWP, the CPI and the CPI (M) -, they give no priority to countering the continuous communal propaganda of the Shiv SenaBJP. Their cadre, in the absence of any ideological direction from their leadership, act on communal lines whenever a communal situation arises.
When LK Advanis rath yatra was leaving a rail of blood across the country of Hindus and Muslims, Zoya Hasan, a renowned sociologist wrote, "Clearly secular consciousness in India is only skin-deep. This is largely the consequence of policies and strategies pursued by the Congress for three decades and the Janata in its regime. It continues to view communal violence as a law and order problem it has not been able to recognize the fact that the part of the antagonism stems from outright ignorance and distortion of information. In spite of living together for centuries most of Hindus and Muslims dont know about each others values, traditions and customs. Each has a stereotyped and distorted image of the other. Such images must be counteracted because the communal problem in our view, has as much to do with ingrained prejudice as with political rivalry and economic competition. Her observations unfortunately still hold true.
The ideological bankruptcy of the Congress and the NCP was particularly evident in Malegaon in the unseemly public wrangling over the issue of paying Rs 2 lakh as compensation to the families of those killed in the riots. Deputy CM Chhagan Bhujbal went on record as saying that such payment amounted to judging the police firing as wrong, whereas CM Vilasrao Deshmukh had no argument to counter this line of thought, which tallied exactly with the Shiv Sena-BJP-polices attitude. The CMs silence made it obvious that the decision was taken at the behest of his party president, Sonia Gandhi. It came to be seen as yet another example of 'Muslim appeasement by the Congress.
The Use of Women
in these Riots
In Malegaon, we saw the concept of women's izzat being used to arouse communal feelings and to justify communal violence. Rumours of Hindu women being raped, their breasts cut, and Osama Bin laden's name being inscribed on their chest began doing the rounds from the very beginning of the riots.
These rumours travelled to the villages surrounding Malegaon and provided an immediate provocation for violence against Muslims there. Neither the administration, nor the media, did anything to counter these rumours.
On November 4, i.e., eight days after the riots began, Shiv Sena leader Narayan Rane, Leader of the Opposition, and ex-CM of Maharashtra, alleged at a press conference that 20 Hindu women had been molested. When he was asked by a female reporter of The Asian Age to take her to meet these women, Rane declined. But his allegation was reported on the front page of the Sena mouthpiece Saamna. Its effect on Saamna's readers all over Maharashtra can be well imagined.
This allegation was also made to our team. We asked all those who said so to take us to those women, but no one could. When we asked them whether they had personal knowledge of any such woman, they replied in the negative. We nevertheless visited the areas in which such incidents were said to have taken place. But responsible local social workers and leaders - Hindus themselves - either made it clear that no such incident had taken place in their area, or said that they too had heard about them but could not direct us to anyone who knew for sure about any such incident. The Sena told us that the women had been shifted to Nasik and from there to Jalgaon, but admitted that their own inquiries there had yielded nothing. But to them, this itself was a confirmation that such incidents had taken place, as it was proof that the government had successfully hidden these women to protect the Muslim culprits!
The SP told us no such complaint had been filed, nor had they come across any such incident. The rumour therefore, seems to have been just that. Yet, it was the talk of the town among the Hindus, who did not care, about finding out whether it was true or not. In the villages where they had lived with Muslims in peace for generations, this rumour allowed them to support the violence against the latter by outsiders.
Yet we did meet a Muslim woman who had been raped in the nearby village of Umrane. Those raping her had taunted her that they were doing to her what her men folk had done to their women. She, and Bilkis Bano, were the only two women we met, who had been directly affected by the riot.
A similar use of the ideals of women's chastity and 'honour' was made in the Karanj Gavan incident referred to above. In that incident, the girl's parents confirmed to us that no rape took place, though the girl was stripped. In our visit, we did not find that the parents or anybody else in the family perceived the incident as communally motivated. Though the sexually-motivated assault was undoubtedly ghastly, the Hindutva organizations misused the incident by trying to give a communal colour and propagated that a Muslim boy had raped a Hindu girl and that the Muslim community needed to be taught a lesson for this.
This phenomenon reminds one of the attitudes towards women of his own, and women of the 'other' community, by the ideologue of Hindutva, V.D. Savarkar. In his book Saha Soneri Pane (Six Golden Pages) from Indian History, he writes, "Shivaji is praised for sending the daughter in law of Nawab of Kalyan with honour. But did he (Shivaji) or Chimaji Appa forget the rape of Hindu women by Muslim invaders? Those women raped by Muslim invaders must have shouted in anguish 'Shivaji, Chimaji Appa don't forget the rape committed on us by the Muslim Lords. You should terrorise them in such a way that they should shiver with terror as to what will happen to 'their' women' when Hindus will come to power. When they will realise that 'their women will also be subjected to such atrocities, then only they will stop doing these atrocities on Hindu women" (see Annex C)
One must say the Hindutva politicians are following their ideologue in this matter in letter and in spirit! And the 'secular' Democratic Front government of the state is doing nothing to counter this. On the contrary, when Malegaon has barely recovered from the first major riot in the State after 92-93, and when interior Maharashtra is continuously witnessing one communal incident after another the DF government has decided to grant tax exemption to a film glorifying Veer Savarkar, and allowed a procession to be taken out in one of Mumbai's main areas to mark the release of the film!
The Role of the
Few took the trouble of finding out, for example, if the rumours of rapes of Hindu women were right. The English press, specially Indian Express, did go out of its way to actually meet the riot victims and ordinary residents of both communities, and giving quite a comprehensive picture of the riots. The Asian Age reporter who asked Narayan Rane to take her to the raped Hindu women also need to be complimented. Had she not asked this question and exposed his lie, the entire press may have printed his allegation.
The local press certainly did not perform its duty of nailing dangerous rumours and verifying facts. Even a newspaper like Sakal wrote on Oct. 27, 2001 that the Muslims resorted to private firing, which was not mentioned even by the SP.
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 around Malegaon.
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.
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
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 activists.
Note: The team would like to express immense gratitude towards Prof. Ram Puniyani for his help in writing the report. Discussions with Prof. Puniyani helped a great in compiling this Report
Other police officers
But we have to admit we could not save the Muslims in our areas. They all fled.
their criticism of their party presidents actions, these councillors
felt that he was not communal as an individual. ``Only he could have made
a Hindu the Municipal Council President, and hes done it many times.
The Congress could do it only once, said Bhosale.
were glad that Raj Vardhan had come as SP. ``He can control anyone, specially
the do number dhandhe walen. Had he remained here, this riot
may not have taken place.
``The Congress here had both Hindu ad Muslim support, but by paying Rs 2 lakh compensation to those who did in the riots, the party has alienated Hindus, he said. ``They should have taken the same stand as Indira Gandhi did after the 1983 riots here - we shall first find out if those who died were rioters, and accordingly decide on compensation.
This was the stand
of all Hindus Congress or otherwise
``If at all the Jaanta
Raja played any part, said Suresh Pawar, petrol pump owner,
considered close to MLA Shaikh Rashid, ``it was to lead the mob. Not more
than a dozen members of the mob would have been members of Jaanta Raja.
One disturbing factor was the suspicion and bitterness within the Congress between its Hindu and Muslim members. Though the murder of former Councillor Khalil Ahmed had shocked them, they did not mention it until specifically asked about it. Khalil was said to be Bhodkes right-hand man. But while Khalils family was bitter that he had not come to the pay his last respects, others told us that he had been turned back by Khalils supporters when he went to Khalils house.
We heard the accusation from Nihal Ahmeds daughter that Suresh Pawar had supplied petrol to the Hindu rioters to burn Muslim properties. Pawar told us he too had heard the accusation. But what pained him was that Rashid Shaikh, for whom he had campaigned, had believed it. ``I suppose if he argues in my defence, he will lose the support of his followers, he said.
Though Pawar had
campaigned for Rashid Shaikh, when we mentioned to him that we wanted
to meet the families of the firing victims, he said he would have to arrange
for a Muslim to accompany us. They all live in Muslim areas,
Its a good
thing the 15-16 gas cylinders kept near my shop didnt explode. We
stopped PSI Patils van and he brought the cylinders here. He saved
The answer is not
tit-for-tat. Then we too will become Rakshasas like them. We have to think
what should be done. Im on the Peace Committee, but I could not
go for its meeting because of high BP. After that they havent called
The other boys also
spoke freely to us. ``Our leaders Suresh Gawli & dada Bhuse are innocentwe
are ready to face any inquiry. In fact, after Suresh Gawli was arrested,
Dada went to meet him and he too was picked up.
He had left the Sena
many years back, now he was only doing social work. But yes, Narayan Rane
did come and give Rs 2 lakh. The Congress MLA Rashid Shaikh also came,
just half an hour before Ranes visit. He must have come to know
that Rane was coming here. After Rane Sahebs visit, everyone came
here. But the CM didnt come. He flew by in a helicopter. But he
managed to go to Faraan Hospital.
Mr. Sanjay Joshi, Social Activist, Rashtra Seva Dal, Camp area:
``The effect of the October 19 morcha was that the Muslim youth felt that Nihal Ahmed was with them and that emboldened them to behave the way they did during the riots.
Nihal Ahmed did not come out to stop the Muslims who had resorted to rioting before the police fired; though he could have pacified them.
The situation was
like Partition. Systematic rumours were spread that Muslim mob is coming
to attack. These rumours were easily believed. This and the all-night
azaan created panic on both sides. False rumours about atrocities on women
were spread. All these factors helped spread the riots rapidly.
Satish, a vegetable
vendor, was so angry at the burning of the vegetable market that he said:
``Today, if someone tells me to come on the road and do anything, even
anything wrong, I'm ready. I haven't earned anything for 2 weeks, what
shall I feed my family?"
By 5 o clock,
the attacks on Diamond Complex had begun, and the owners of the Complex
had taken refuge in Khalils home.
Chand bi: ``On Saturday morning the Sena and Jaanta Raja came shouting `Jai Bhawani, jai Shivaji. Mine is the only Muslim shop on the main road. Its a mattress shop. They burnt the machine and the shop. I ran away.
There is a school nearby. The teachers there told the mob to let me be, saying that I am old and poor. But they warned them to stay out of it or else they would put me into the fire too.
The police at the Camp (Soyegaon is just near the Camp area of Malegaon) wouldnt take down my complaint till someone from National Travels accompanied me.
Jaanta Raja & Sena became active only in the last 2 years.
These refugees say their neighbours didnt help them because they felt that Muslims had attacked their people in Malegaon. But they asked when Muslims burnt Hindu shops in Malegaon; they were fired at, how come the police didnt fire at the Hindus in the villages who burnt Muslim shops?
Dead in police firing:
Bilkis Bano died on the first day of the riots i.e. October 26. We visited the family while a large number of relatives were present.
The relatives told the story as follows;
`We have a two-storeyed structure. We were not aware of anything that happened near the masjid on the 26th afternoon. Bilkis Bano had gone to the bathroom at around 4pm. She came out and went to the balcony of the first floor to hang the washed clothes to dry them. The rest of the family was on the ground floor.
We heard a big noise of someone falling from the first floor, so we all ran up. We found her lying on the floor in the balcony. When we touched her, her clothes her wet. We realised then that she was bleeding and that a bullet had hit her on her heart.
First we took Bilkis Banu to the government run Wadia Hospital but they did not have any instruments to detect the bullet so we transferred her immediately to the Faraan hospital, which was accessible. When we went to that hospital the doctor announced her dead. The police was helpful while carrying the body home and even at the funeral.
Muzaamil Husain Khalil Ahmed, aged 28.
His father said he was shot in the head and back while going to the toilet at 1 am. He lived near Dyane and worked in a powerloom. He had been married just eight months back.
By the time people brought him home, he was dead.
His father blamed the police for the death, saying had they not objected to the leaflet being distributed, the riot wouldnt have taken place. ``Why did the police have to interfere? We were not distributing it to non-Muslims. He however, agreed that the Muslims present here also need not have vented their anger on the police. ``Yes, the public was wrong there. The Mufti and the MLA tri to explain to them, but you know how young people are the more you tell them not to do something, the more they do it.
The father wanted the policemen responsible to be punished. ``Once they are stripped of their uniform, others wont do the same thing.
The father, an original resident of Malegaon, had seen all its riots. According to him this latest one was less ferocious than the one in 1964.
The victims wife said hardly anything. When specifically asked what she would do now, she kept quiet.
Injured in police
Ashfaq Ahmed Abid Qazi , 15, eldest of 7 children
``I was going to the weekly market. I live in Kalampura, I didnt know anything about what had happened outside Jama Masjid. It was around 3.45 pm when a bullet hit me. I was near the Islampura mosque. The bullet went through me. I fainted and woke up in hospital. Ive been working in a powerloom since a year, like my father. I never went to school. I didnt go for Nihal Ahmeds morcha.
Rizwan Ahmed Iqbal Ahmed
``I had gone to buy cloth on Kidwai Road around 3.30-4 pm on Friday. But I saw people running, saying `Bhaago, police aa rahi hai. I also ran and the bullet hit me in my left foot from the back. I work in a powerloom in Ramzanpura. My elder brother works in a shop. We support my mother and sister.
``On Friday around 3.30-4 pm, I was going to buy material for my paan shop from Islampura. I hadnt heard about any problem after the namaz. As I reached Nishad Road, people began running. I also ran and I was shot in my thigh. I fainted. Ive had to have 3 operations. My brothers looking after my paan shop now.
Injured in mob violence
``My cousin Khalil and I went to pray in the Diamond Mill mosque around 9 pm on Friday night. It was the closest mosque to our house. They came with swords, and other weapons and killed my cousin. They hit me on the head too and I fainted. They were 250-300, some were outsiders. They were shouting Jai Bhawani, jai Shivaji.
They had tried to attack the diamond Powerloom Complex at 5 pm too, but the police had chased them away. But they returned at night. That time, no policemen were there. In fact, they kept regrouping every time the police van went on its rounds.
Dada Bhuse and Suresh Gawli were the people who were leading the mob. Gawli is a former Sena councillor, and Bhuse is the leader of Jaanta Raja. They are behind the burning of the Diamond Mill Compound.
My cousin was Sakharam Bhodkes right-hand man. He was himself once a Congress councillor. Khodke had promised to protect him, but he did nothing. When he came to see my cousins body, everyone there abused him.
Tableeghi Jamaat members beaten in Karaj Gaavan
The tableeghi jamaat has been active for the last 15 years. But it's only now that their efforts to make Muslims follow an orthodox version of Islam, have begun to bear fruit. They are religious preachers, who travel to villages and stay in each village for 2-3 days. Of late, perhaps under the influence of the VHP/Bajrang Dal campaign against Muslim `terrorism, Hindu villagers have begun to look on their trips with suspicion, and resent their influence on the Muslims. In one such village Mangli, in ?? this year, , the Muslims were forced to give up everything that identified them as Muslims -- beards, caps, namaz five times a day, and loudspeakers on the mosque, after a newly converted Muslim wrestler allegedly broke a temple idol.
The Tableegh claim they only talk of spiritual matters, they have nothing to do with worldly things. But their emphasis is on the physical practices of Islam: a particular external appearance which distinguishes a Muslim from a non-Muslim; the cultivation of a separate identity both physically and culturally. They not only frown upon Muslim participation in Hindu festivals and jatras, but even disapprove of Muslims worshipping at dargahs.
These teachings affect the Muslims daily social life with Hindus. In the villages, the two communities are so close as to be practically indistinguishable from each other.
In certain villages in the Konkan strip, some communities have put up a notice outside their mosque: ``No Tableeghis allowed here.
We met three Tableeghi members in Faraan hospital. They had been beaten up in Karaj gaavan during the riots. We spoke to them at length.
``We reached Karanj Gavan from Khadki on Friday. At night, the policeman on duty there told us to lock the mosque and rest inside.
Next morning, the villagers told us there had been rioting in Malegaon. They advised us not to come out of the mosque, and they locked us in and left the village by about 9 or 10 am.
There had been a riot in the village two months earlier, by the Soyegaon people. So people were afraid.
Around 12 oclock, we heard them shouting, `jai Bhawani, jai Shivaji. They burnt the auto in which we had come. Then they began breaking the masjid. They broke the lock and came inside.
They were about 70 80 of them, armed with lathis, sickles, maces. We were just five.
They attacked us all the time abusing us with filthy words, threatening to rape our women and saying `Tumhare Islam ko mita denge.
We recognized one of them, his name is Bhaskar, and he's a rickshaw driver from a village called Lendane. His rickshaw number is MH15J 0935.
After three or four hours, SP Kanti Jain reached there and took us in his own jeep. When we reached Lendane, we saw a lot of Sena people sitting there. Despite the SP ordering them, they refused to disperse. They even roughed up the SP.
Somehow we made it to next village Wargaon from where the SP made a call. While he was phoning, the villagers stoned his jeep. The driver and the constable accompanying him got down and protected us. The assailants were abusing us and our religion.
Finally the SP brought us to the government hospital.
The journey had taken us an hour, it normally takes 20 minutes.
When we were lying injured in the mosque in Karanj Gavan, the policeman who had the previous night, told us to rest inside the masjid, told us to leave as the mob had already burnt four houses.
The villagers came and told us: `Outsiders attacked you and burnt the homes. But we could see some of the locals among the assailants.
One-and-a-half hours after the attack, the Sarpanch and police patil came and asked us, `Why do you come here? Our village has got a bad name because of you.
We have gone to that village earlier, so we knew where the local doctor lives. We went to his house for treatment, but from one of the houses a voice told us to go away. `Theres nothing for you here, go to Malegaon. There you people are killing our people, we arent going to help you.
The local policeman was seeing all this, but he only kept warning us to leave the village.
We asked the Tableegh members about their religious work, they said, Every two months, we go on a trip to the villages. Weve been doing this since the last 15 year but never faced any problem. Its only two months back that for the first time; our people were beaten up in this village. But soon after, the sarpanch gave in writing that the matter had been resolved amicably.
Our task is to remind Muslims about their religion. Those who dont go for namaz, those who remain away from mosques, we try and change them.
We never talk against any community, in fact, everyone knows we only talk about things which lie under the earth and above the sky. Nothing in between interests us. We dont go for morchas, we stay away from worldly things.
All we do is tell Muslims that when they die, they will have to account for every moment of their lives. We tell them what is good in our religion and what is not. In fact, everyone knows our work. Hindus often tell us: `Isko bhi lekar jaao, yeh kabhi masjid nahin jaata. (Take this one also, he never goes to the mosque.)
People do change their lives after listening to us. If we are successful in giving them true Islamic teachings, they will stop practices such as celebrating Diwali and other Hindu festivals as they do in the villages.
Now for some time we wont go on our trips.
Maulana Abdul Qayyum Qasmi and Mufti Mohd. Ismail (Jamiat-Ul-Ulema) :
The latter is the chief Mufti f Malegaon and imam of the Jama masjid.
The Mufti gave us a detailed account of the manner in which the atmosphere was being poisoned before the riots. He also gave an eyewitness account of the incident that sparkled off the riots.
``On August 15, Uddhav Thackeray came and gave an inciting speech.
``On August 18, i.e. on Pola Festival Day, rumours were spread that a Muslim boy had raped a Hindu girl in Karanj Gavan.
On August 19, Jaanta Raja members went to Karanj Gaavan to incite people on the issue of rape in mini trucks and attacked the mosque in that village. Seven people were injured during the attack. In Vakhari, a masjid was attacked in August.
In Deola (Taluka Satana), Muslims were not allowed to pray in mosques and were not allowed to give azaan on loud-speakers. Muslims were also forced to shave off their beards. (this was by way of `punishment for the alleged breaking of an idol by a Muslim.)
During Ganpati procession in Bhadgaon Taluka, the route of the procession was sought to be changed and the processionists were insisting on passing through Muslim majority areas. The police was able to stop them, but not before they warned the Muslims.
Before October 19, the Shiv Sena had burnt effigies of V.P.Singh and Imam Bukhari, though permission was refused by the police to do so.
After the October 19 procession, everything had calmed down.
On the 26th, it was Mufti Masood Akhtars sermon. After the namaaz, most people had left the mosque while a few continued offering namaaz or attending to administrative work. There was a police picket outside the mosque and a young man was distributing leaflets. There was an SRP van stationed outside the mosque. An SRP constable asked for the leaflet and was trying to tear the entire bunch of leaflets being distributed. The young man had a heated argument with the constable who then tried to push him into the van. This enraged the Muslims who had begun gathering there. They had a scuffle with the police.
Mufti Mohd. Ismail came out of the mosque and managed to pacify the mob and asked everybody to sit down, and they did. After explaining things to them and pacifying them, he asked everybody to leave the place, which everybody did.
Later, Sheikh Rashid, MLA, came there, and along with him a crowd assembled once again. As the crowd was not dispersing this time, police resorted to lathi-charge and the mob dispersed. While dispersing and running, a navratri mandal near the masjid, which was loosely supported on bamboo poles, fell down, but this was not a deliberate act.
The Jama Masjid is adjoining Sangameshwar, divided by a river. Jaanta Raja leaders who were watching all this from Sangameshwar, took advantage of the fact that a navratri mandal had collapsed in the melee, and started burning Muslim shops in Sangameshwar, a Hindu area. The mob first attacked Munna cycle shop and other Muslim shops situated on land owned by a masjid. But 5 adjoining Hindu shops were also destroyed. All this was visible on this side of the river, i.e., in the Muslim area. Seeing the Muslim shops burning, Muslims also started burning Hindu shops. Gupta Dairy was burnt first. Then the police had to fire on the mob, which was looting and burning. The firing took place on Kidwai Road, Nishad Road, Mehmood Road and Mohd. Ali Road. Police firing led to death of innocent children, women and bystanders.
In Sangameshwar, though the mob was looting and burning Muslim shops under the very nose of the police, no firing was resorted to. Dr.Bhuse was leading the mob attacking Muslim shops.
The Mufti also alleged that the moesty of five Muslim women had been outraged in Deola, Satan, and Kalwan near Umrana. In Misi, one muslim woman was made to run naked behind a motorcycle.
Students of Marathi and Urdu schools carrying peace placards formed a large part of the morcha marching not together, but separately behind their teachers.
The peace marchers played down the riots, saying they seemed more serious this time because they lasted much longer than normal. ``Normally the riot is over in a couple of days and Hindus and Muslims go back to living together on the third day,'' said one organiser. ``This time, because of the long curfew (83 hours), people couldn't meet.'' Property damaged was more because population had increased, they said. They dismissed the communal polarization the team had encountered saying it was a temporary feeling and not one universally shared.
Their priority they said was to send the refugees back to their villages. ``If they remain here, they will be a blot on our town, on us,'' said one of them.
They were confident of accomplishing their task. They proposed to take the permission of the refugees to talk to the Hindus in the villages, convince the latter and then bring them to Malegaon to meet the Muslim refugees. ``We want the Hindu villagers to themselves escort the Muslims of their village back home,'' they said.
Among the peace programmes announced at the march was a Diwali mushaira and an Id Milan. At the meeting held after the march, the idea of making Marathi-speaking and Urdu-speaking students of Malegaon become `penfriends' was put forward -- an indication of the polarisation in the town.
Despite the attempt to underplay the seriousness of this riot, some of the organisers confessed that as teachers, they ad failed. Datta Wadge, a Socialist, ascribed the riots to ``vote'' politics. Asked about Nihal Ahmed's morcha, he said it was his personal idea -- not the party's.
Dr ?? hirey, former minister, ascribed the riot to ``international'' influences.
* Karanj Gavan Muslim
In August too, my shop was attacked, the machine was broken, but that was minor damage.
Md Bhai Usman Shaikh had been beaten up in August when outsiders ``avenged the molestation of the Hindu girl. But he had little to say against the Hindus in Karanj Gavan, with whom his family had been living for the last three generations. He worked in their fields, and till today he said, despite the two attacks on him, they came to call him for work. When asked if he would send them sweets for Id, he replied in a trice: ``What do you think? Of course I will.
But his wife Zakiya and daughter were upset about the loss they had suffered for no fault oft heirs their grains had been thrown in water, their utensils broken, their mattress and clothes burnt, their window broken and door of their home sought to be burnt. Here too, the Hindu villagers had put out the fire.
Their house bore the brunt of the attacks because it faced the mosque, which was being renovated with help from Malegaons Muslim. The tin roof was being replaced with a pucca one. In August, the mosques loudspeaker wires had been cut and the matkas of water inside broken. At that time and again this time, after the Malegaon riot, the Tableeghi members inside it had been attacked.
The most disturbing factor of this incident was that while the Hindu villagers had offered to help repair the mosque, the Muslims had turned down the offer, probably on the advice of the Malegaon maulanas. ``We told the villagers you could help repair the dargah and madrasa. They understood.