by Ajmer PUCL:
Communal incidences in Nasirabad Town
It was in the midnight of April 4, 2001 that some anti social elements
after the religious and customary rituals were over threw stones and damaged
the godly idles installed outside the Laxminarayan temple in Nasirabad
Town. Not only the idols were damaged but also the bulbs broken to pieces
and the vehicles parked outside the houses and in the street were also
The matter is stated to have been reporting to the Police at about 7.00A.M.
on 5th April and the people are stated to have reminded the police authorities
at Nasirabad until 10.00 A.M. when one A.S.I Shri Shravan Singh with 2-3
Constables led by Shri Nilamber Singh arrived at the scene. They shouted
at the public. All this was happening before the house of Shri A.K. Airen,
Advocate who immediately telephoned to Smt. Usha Sharma, Collector at
Ajmer. The police and the district administration used his premises and
informed the happenings to the higher authorities from there.
On the same day i.e., on 5th April 2001 it is alleged that without any
communal tension and without any rhyme or reason the curfew was imposed.
On 6th April Shri Dinesh Mehra, an Advocate who was in the midst of a
birthday function of his son in a Dharamshala was dragged out by the S.D.M.
Shri Shahin Ali and Shri Sunil Bhatia, another advocate living opposite
his house was dragged out at the instance of Shri Shahin Ali by policemen.
He was beaten and put in the lock-up. Shri Bhatia was produced before
the acting magistrate in the same night but he refused to listen and ordered
that since Shri Bhatia was arrested on the very day hence he be produced
before him the next day. The police officer Shri Nilember Singh and other
police officers are alleged to have meted out to him the inhuman treatment.
During Curfew the Court Staff having curfew passes were beaten by police.
The district administration who made endeavours to restore peace through
the public men of eminence by inviting them to a discussion implicated
them in criminal cases.
The main FIRs related to the following:
(i) Damaging the godly idols: Cases under IPC sections 147, 148, 149,
427, 436, 292 and 294 were registered against unknown persons.
(ii) Putting Tazia to fire: Another case was registered against Shri Satish
Parcha, Ramesh Harijan's son, son of Shri Ramesh Airman and some other
people/persons for assaulting, pushing and inflicting fire to the Tazia
and injuring grievously the communal sentiments. The IPC sections under
which the cases were instituted were as Sections 1476, 148, 292, 294,
(iii) Against the rioters: On the reports of Thana Incharge Shri Nilember
Singh cases against the rioters who pelted stones on police, had obstructed
the performance of official duties damaging public property, throwing
lives of the people to danger damaging the godly idols, burning of Tazias,
provoking the religious sentiments were registered under IPC Sections
147, 148, 149, 436, 353, 332, 292 and under section 3 of PPDP Act.
While the investigations were on and the judicial process had started
the Ajmer Unit of PUCL visited different sites, met a good number of citizens
of Nasirabad town and interviewed the involved persons on May 12, 2001.
The report of the same runs as under:
The team interviewed Shri Ashok Airan first. Shri Ashok Airan, the Advocate
deposed as under:
"In Nasirabad for the last 4-5 years during Tazia processions youths
belonging to the Muslim community used to stone the Tube lights in the
markets which the people of Hindu community tolerated and did not react
sharply but this year the damage was colossal and could not be tolerated.
During Garba Dance Programme also Muslim boys teased the girls. On 4th
April night during the Tazia procession the idols installed outside the
temple were enraged and a part of an idol was broken. Next morning when
the women reached the temple they saw all this and talked of it amongst
themselves. In the meanwhile, the shops in the market started opening
and people gathered together. Apprehending some untoward happening Shri
Nihal Chand Jain, an Advocate, telephoned the police station at around
9 a.m. on 5th April. Shri Nilamber Singh, the Thana Incharge advised him
to telephone after half an hour. When phone call was made to Tehsildar
he came first and the Police arrived after an hour.
When people made complaint
of breaking Idols to the Police the ASI, Shri Shravan Singh retorted by
saying, "what have you done when Idols were broken by Taliban? You
yourself must have broken the Idols. His this statement enraged the people's
sentiments. People found that this time the lights upto Framji Chowk were
broken. Slowly entire market was closed and people gathered together before
the temple. The District Collector was phoned. Shri Shahin Ali, SDM arrived
from Ajmer. People apprehended that police would permit the Tazia procession.
So under provocation they started pelting stones on police. As a result
curfew was imposed and army was requisitioned. Because of negligence of
police the situation deteriorated. Police implicated the innocent people
out of personal vengeance. Police know that Mahavir Jayanti, Hanuman Jayanti
and Muharram were falling together but the Peace Committee was not involved
in it. Illegal slaughterhouse is being operated here in Nasirabad.
The Kasai boys are
being instigated. In Madarsas cruelty is being taught. The atmosphere
that prevailed at Babri Masjid demolition is in the making. This all is
well in the knowledge of the administration. The Muslim community harassed
a Muslim, who stood as surity for Hindu charged during curfew. There is
no tension in Hindu and Muslim here but both the sides there are fundamentalists.
The role of Shri Shahin Ali has not been good. To extend the curfew limit
was wrong. The police behaviour with Shri Mehra and Shri Bhatia, both
Advocates who stood for peace and harmony were quite wrong. They were
Here the relations between the police and the civilians have been quite
harmonious which are being spoiled by the Administration. Police takes
heavy amounts from Slaughterhouses. The C.I told he would have settled
the whole issue if they did not get to higher authorities. Whole of police
station is in the pocket of Kasai Community.
People were wrongly implicated in policy cases, which were ultimately
withdrawn and Shri Shahin Ali had to apologise in the open court. In administration
the role of S.P. was good but DIU and collector's role are questionable.
The Collector acted in haste and lacked foresightedness - that harassed
59000 people unnecessarily.
Thirty percent population belongs to Muslim community. Hindus and Muslims
work together in transport and other business. Internally Muslims are
feeling a pinch of burning of Tazia and its demolition. Whereas Hindus
are provoked due to damaging of idols. This may result in future provocations."
Version of Shri Ashok Jain, the Magistrate:
He admitted, "he had complained to the S.P. against beating of his
court staff who had curfew passes with them and coming to attend their
duty. Jabra and Ram Kishan were in uniform and had curfew passes even
then police beat them. Shri Hukum Chand Chowkidar was beaten by RAC while
he was coming to court. Shobha Ram was coming to his home when he was
beaten in the way. I got them medically examined and Shri Hukum Chand
X-Rayed. I have referred to Tulsi Ram Vs. Union of India case emphasizing
that if police itself break the law then who will protect? This was a
matter between police and Hindus, which was highlighted disproportionately
by media. This was done perhaps to justify the imposition of curfew. Some
people were wrongly kept under confinement. Dinesh Mehra and Sunil Bhatia
were wrongly implicated".
With much reluctance he gave his version.
Shri Mahaveer, an ex-Army man:
"In the night of 4th April (Katl-ki-raat) when police was with the
Tazia procession then how it happened that the Tube lights in the market
were broken. When complaint was made the police said, tumhi ne todaa hogaa.
This statement from a police officer Shri Nilamber provoked the mass of
the people who had gathering the people who were with weapons. Yes it
is true that in Hindu gathering the people were with weapons. To be truthful
my own son was there. They were marching towards Gandhi Chowk and police
was being dragged. Hindus were pelting stones. Then police made the lathi
charge and threw teargas shells that gave further provocation to the mob,
which assaulted the Tazia and put it to fire.
Since the MLA of this Constituency who was very much in the town did not
turn up at the sight of these happenings, there must be certain influence
of Nilamber Singh. The vote politics has spoiled the situation. In the
Masjid there were 500 Muslims with weapons in their hands. Why did police
not search there. I respect Islam but simultaneously I shall not tolerate
any damage to our deities, Idols. If anything happens next time the human
casualties may take place."
Shri V.K. Garg, Cloth Merchant, main Bazar, Nasirabad:
"No Idol is broken. There is a light crack on it. On the one hand
the mischievous elements provoked the Hindu religious sentiments, on the
other, by assaulting Tazia and burning it, Muslim sentiment was injured.
The local administration did not act speedily. The whole incident was
wrongly projected. He opined about Shri Ashok Airan, Advocate, that he
is not a man with provocative attitude towards Muslim religion. The Kasai
matter has no relevance with this incident".
Shri Rakesh Sanwaria:
"I do not know much about this but am of the considered opinion that
this is in response to the damage to Idols. Muslim community may not act
in vengeance in future."
Shri Deepak Jindal, LIC Agent:
"I have seen with my own eyes the assault on Tazia and its burning.
The Hindus had collected stones in a Thela and they were marching towards
Gandhi Chowk and pushing the police backward at the face of the stone
pelting which was ahead of the Tazia procession. The Hindu mob put the
Chaadar on fire, assaulted Tazia, and put it on fire and at that moment
they shouted slogans "Jai Shri Ram" as if some victory had been
scored. According to me had the curfew not been imposed the situation
would have gone out of control but prolonging of the curfew for such a
long time was quite unreasonable and improper."
Shri Suresh Garg: A citizen:
"When in the morning of 5th April I went to purchase vegetables in
the marker I found that people were talking that the Idols were broken
and that some dirty material was there. This provoked the shopkeepers
who closed their shops immediately. Within moments the stone pelting started
from Paanch Batti Chauraha to Gandhi Chowk. This was an act of anti social
elements but the police was not at all vigilant and added to this was
the statement of Shri Nilambar Singh, C.I., who had told that what you
have done when Idols were broken in Taliban. This aggravated the situation
badly. Some p0liticians and Advocates of the city further added fuel to
Shri S.N. Bansal, an employee:
"The closing operations were in the LIC office and then the other
happenings took place. In this the police response had been candidly poor.
Shri Ashok Airan, Advocate and his colleagues are not fundamentalists."
Statements from Minority Community Members:
Shri Rafiq Pahalwan: "In our community in the night before Muharram
(which is known as Katl ki Raat) Tazia processions are taken from 11 pm
to 6 am. The police accompany the procession until it reaches the destination
and then leave. The Tazia is carried in a procession that marches through
Gandhi Chowk, Paanch Batti, and Motilal Chauraha etc.
On the morning of 5th April around 9 a.m. we came to know that markets
are closed. There was nothing of this thing until 4th night. Boys had
broken the bulbs and a tube light but there was negligible loss. Some
of us went to the market, talked to the responsible persons of the town,
and assured them to compensate the loss of bulbs and tube lights. They
were patiently dealt with and returned with assurance. All of a sudden
news came that Tazia procession will not be allowed to being taken through
temple front route. Ten to fifteen persons led by Shri Rajesh Rathi and
Gopal of the new temple started shouting slogans "Vande Maatram -
Hindustan mein rehnaa hai to Vande Maatram Kahnaa hogaa" and so on.
In a louder voice they declared it was their personal temple and no Tazia
procession will be allowed to be routed through its front road, whereas
the same route which has been used for procession for the last 70 years.
They were expressing to the people "our Idols have been broken".
They declared whereas these were rubbed and damaged by somebody not on
this occasion but on earlier ones." The police suggested that five
persons from each side sit in the Dak Bungalow and resolve the issue.
On our part we told that we are prepared to compensate the loss of lights
and tube lights. At this some of us reached the Dak Bungalow but the other
side that is Hindu Community people did not respond. In the situation
police advised us that Tazia procession be taken through another route
but the persons cited above leading the procession of protesters pursued
us and reached Gandhi Chowk and assaulted the Tazia there and put it to
fire. In these moments the Force from Ajmer also arrived.
Our persons also felt
provoked but they were pushed back. Our 5 to 7 boys became furious. Before
we stopped them imposition of Curfew was announced. Stones were pelted
on police and they were also injured. The crux was that they wanted to
create a Hindu- Muslim communal riot but they did not succeed. They then
tried the other way and scuffled with the police and administration. The
main leaders who were provoking the communal riot were Jindal Gopal, Mohan
Bhawani, Annu Khandelwal, and Manu Chapdiwal. Shri Ashok Airan Advocate
also abetted the tension. Persons from the surrounding villages were given
the temptation of liquor, held a meeting at this residence, and planning
was done. Some persons from Nandla, Derathu, Naharwara, etc. had already
assembled. People of the Harijans, Raigar, and Khatik community were provoked.
Mohan Bhawani and Monu Chapdiwal distributed liquor to these persons.
We tolerated everything and did not act in provocation; therefore, we
did not have any tension. There is no fundamentalist leader amongst us.
Salim Aslam was very much present during the riot. 14-15 persons were
taken into custody; some of them were released on bail.
It is incorrect to say that it was not a communal riot; it was 101% communal
riot. Our Tazia was burnt. This is our weakness or limit of tolerance
that we continued to see all this as passive spectators. Our question
is why did people come from other villages. If they were called, it means
the riot was pre-planned. Wise people saved the situation, otherwise riot
would have turned serious. We live with mutual harmony. This mischief
is by 5-10 new persons. Had no meeting taken place at Shri Ashok Airan's
place nothing would have happened. All planning was done there.
Had the Administration not intervened, we would have been attacked. The
complaint against them is only that they wrongly projected the damage
Shri Chuttan Bhai:
Had it not been a Hindu Muslim riots why our Tazia could have been burnt?
It is absurd to term the riot as a dispute between Hindus vs. Administration.
For the function of some ceremony by Shri Dinesh Mehra, Advocate at Keeron-Ki
Dharamshala a tent was installed which was got removed by police for Tazia
procession which passed through peacefully from there. Then why the stones
were pelted on police? This is absolutely misguiding to project that the
Tazia fell down on its own because of the loose wheels of the vehicle
whereon the Tazia was put. Tazia was attacked with a malafide intention
and then put to fire and slogans were shouted. The highly provocative
slogans were shouted and the leaders of the procession (Hindus) were furiously
expressing their anger and challenging that no Tazia procession would
be allowed. Observing all this was the limit of our tolerance, Police
definitely asked them, "does the road belong to you? But was helpless."
M.Chachaa, Chuttan Bhai, Sajid, Munshiji, and Rafiq Pahalwan:
"In Nasirabad ever since independence there has never been any communal
tension. This is the first occasion. Citing the example of harmony Shri
Chuttan Bhai says at occasions of Hindus I put Kewadaa in water and then
serve them and derive pleasure out of it. The truth is that it is only
after taking over by Shri Annu Khandelwal as President that a fundamentalist
group was formed consisting of 5-7 persons only. Previously Ashok Airan
was a correspondent for Navjyoti. He has started indulging in hatred only
after leaving this newspaper. We only object to the conduct of 10-12 persons".
Immediately some of them brought a good number of receipts of donations,
which they have been giving on Dassehra festival. This they termed as
a unique example of communal harmony. The amounts donated were no less
than 51 and 100 rupees vide each receipt. "This incident has shaken
our trust. We apprehend anything in future."
Courts' Strike in the Entire District:
"Since Shri Ashok Airan, Advocate was implicated in police case and
bailed at Ajmer Court, and Shri Dinesh Mehra and Shri Sunil Bhatia, his
colleague advocates against whom section 307 was charged, were in great
difficulty. In order to create pressure and get then exonerated the strike
in all the courts of the district was decided by Bar Association, which
continued till settlement with the Administration. We, people are small
artisans. We are mechanics, Mistrees, shopkeepers of vehicle parts, truck
drivers, etc. We belong to poor families. What do we have to do with riots?
Our children too are engaged in such like occupations. We have no time
for riots. The other side is unlike us. The unemployed youth is poisoned
for creating communal tensions. What is the explanation and compensation
to Shri Sajid, Nasir Ahmed, Abid, and Babbu whose tires shops were burnt
to ashes by these extremists?"
"Ever since 1924, there was a slaughterhouse during British rule
which was closed at our instance and Shri Bhurelal Airan's (Ashok Airan's
father) instance we pledged not to take cow's flesh. But see, this new
generation men who have got our meat shops closed (of goat meat). Because
of the closure of Slaughter House here at Nasirabad atleast 500 families
have become jobless. At the demand of the Administration to provide us
a place for slaughterhouse we have deposited a sum worth Rs.1,50, 000/-
around 2-3 yrs back when Shri Karni Singh was the Collector, Ajmer, which
has neither been refunded nor any shops have been allotted to us for meat
selling. It is to be noted that during Hindu festivals we stop meat selling
to the people in token of our mutual harmony."
Meeting with SP and Collector and Their View Point on the Incident:
In a meeting with the representatives of PUCL the Collector and District
Magistrate, Ajmer District, Smt. Usha Sharma expressed that the whole
thing erupted because of out of proportion airing of the incident of breaking
of bulbs, tube lights and damage to idols outside the Laxmi Narayan temple
by the extremist elements. She asserted that it was a communal riot and
had the Administration not intervened in time, there would have been human
casualties. Imposition of curfew became necessary after demolition and
burning of Tazia. Curfew had to be prolonged because of extremist elements
'not submitting to the rule of law'. She assured to allot land for 'Kasai
Khana' as soon as she was free from the pressing assignments. She expected
of the complainant organisations to suggest a suitable place where Kasai
Khana could operate without any objection from any community. She did
not appreciate the carrying of strike in the Courts by the Advocates (Bar
Association) to pressurerise the withdrawal of cases against the involved
persons. She told that the Court strike did create a lot of inconvenience
to the public. She asserted that the situation is perfectly under control
and no recurrence would be permitted and that all out efforts were being
made to restore communal harmony.
Superintendent Police Shri Alok Tripathi: The views expressed by the Superintendent
Police Shri Alok Tripathi were almost identical to that of the Collector.
However, he refused to accept that there was any indifference or negligence
in responding to the phone call at Nasirabad Thana. He charged the extremist
elements for creating untoward situation on 5th April 2001 at Nasirabad.
He was shocked to observe that the publicly known citizens of Nasirabad
not only fell a prey to the mischief of extremist elements but themselves
became a party and involved themselves in aggravating communal tension.
A false FIR was lodged highlighting that human excreta was thrown in the
temple. A false report, but enough to rouse the communal sentiments. The
guilty have been booked and no relaxation would be given. It is quite
watchful to the activities of these fundamentalists on both sides. It
is wrong to say that it was not a communal riot and that it was a dispute
between the Administration and Hindu extremists. Had the police and the
Administration not acted swiftly the communal riot would have taken place
How peace and harmony could be expected at the face of burning of Tazia?
The Police was, therefore, very alert and moved swiftly to control the
situation and did not permit the surcharged communal tension to be converted
into human casualties. In the larger public interest the officer expressed
regrets before the Court of Law.
Conclusions Drawn by the PUCL Team:
Muslims and Hindus have been living and working together in various fields
with perfect harmony. There is no hatred amongst them. The 4th April night
incident provoked the mass of Hindu sentiments particularly after airing
the incident out of proportion by certain vested interests. The breaking,
stoning of bulbs, tube lights, and damaging idols and vehicles in the
street by anti social elements may be a minor incident but certainly an
unpardonable act. The act of putting Tazia to fire is a serious offence.
The culprits need to be dealt with sternly without submitting to any pressure
for relaxation. In the chain of events, had the police acted promptly
in time, no violation of human rights would have arisen nor curfew would
have been necessitated. Nor the communal sentiments would have been aired
creating uncontrollable passions.
Yes, it is a serious
lapse on the part of police officials that they turned a deaf ear to these
sensitive happenings for a long time. When the stone pelting and damaging
and breaking of bulbs and tube lights was usual affair every year, the
police should have remained more vigilant after the whole night Tazia
rituals were over in early morning of 5th April. But they miserably failed
and miscalculated the happenings.
Then again, on getting
report about the gathering of the crowd in the market in the early morning
of 5th April, 2001 over the damage of the godly idols, etc., the police
should have acted like an electronic current. But delayed intervention
complicated the situation and provided an opportunity to the extremists
and anti-social elements to create tension. It is alleged by Muslim Community
that some bad elements were brought from the nearby villages and liquor
was made freely available to them and that they created the untoward situation
and further that they acted under the guidance of local extremists/ fundamentalists;
this change needs to be investigated for future guidance.
The allegation that the local MLA of the Nasirabad Constituency did not
turn up on the spot despite his being in town too creates some apprehension
about his legitimate role as a people's representative. The issue of 'Kasai-Khana'
is an after-thought but now a relevant issue. It needs to be resolved
on priority basis. The Muslim community leaders had condemned the incident
of breaking bulbs, tube lights, damaging vehicles etc. and assured the
Hindu leaders for replacing and or compensating the loss.
This was good for
restoring mutual harmony. But because of fear of rousing communal tensions
it was given no cognisance. However, this is not enough for perpetual
harmony. Such elements, who indulge in such destructive activities, should
be identified and sternly dealt with or made to understand that this will
not be tolerated in future. The Peace Committee already existing should
be reconstituted with respectable persons from both the sides who should
remain vigilant about the sensitive issues. In the event of rousing communal
sentiments and untoward probabilities they must immediately act and all
out assistance should be extended to them by the Administration in maintaining
communal Harmony. Those individuals whose tire shops have been burnt and
other damage done need to be properly compensated without any delay.
People of both the communities at Nasirabad have been living with perfect
harmony. They gave us innumerable examples where they participated in
each other community's festivals and contributed for functions, etc. Even
during partition of India there arose no communal riot. Only a few known
persons are stated to be rousing communal passions. They need to be properly
The fact-finding team of PUCL - Ajmer Branch consisted of the following
D.L. Tripathi, Dr. Deepa Martins, Anant Bhatnagar, OP Ray, Divya Singhal,
Smt. Shashi Sharma, Meghna Sharma.