Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fact finding report about Hansot [Gujarat] violence

Report *Abdul hafiz lakhani* ,from Ahmedabad- 23 January 
Recently, Gujarat had a serious communal flare up in Bharuch
district. Hansot and Ambheta were the prime target of saffron people where
Muslims suffered the lot about about ten days ago. some of the prominent
Muslims of Gujarat visited the ground zero and found some shocking
realities. our senior correspondent and Editor of Gujarat siyasat Abdul
hafiz lakhani talked with cross section of people .here is the report

There was an undercurrent of tension in the villages after a youth
identified as Sunil Patel of Ambheta village had posted an offensive
picture of Prophet Muhammad on Whatsapp and circulated it among the
villagers a month ago. About 25,000 Muslims of nearby areas had taken out a
rally and submitted a memorandum to the district authorities to take action
against Sunil. Sunil was arrested but was released a week ago on court
orders the tension was building up in the area since then. A ‘dharam
parishad’ was also organised about 15 days ago in nearby Katpor village
allegedly by Vallabh Patel, brother of local MLA Ishwar Patel. He alleged
that two Muslim families of Katpor village were also asked by the local
Hindus to convert to Hinduism or quit the village.

Muslim youths were frequently attacked whenever they happened to travel
from one village to another for their daily works. He said that youths were
sometimes stopped in presence of police when they could not be identified
from their outer appearance and their driving licenses were checked. If
they happened to be Muslims, they were roughed up. However, police deny
these allegations.It is alleged that it was a “pre-planned” attack and
that police encouraged the mob to attack Muslim properties.

All these villages fall in the Bharuch parliamentary constituency which is
currently represented by Mansukhbhai Dhanjibhai Vasava of the ruling BJP.
Congress leader and Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel has also
won four Lok Sabha elections from this seat.

A communal riot broke out at Hansot lying between Vadodara and Surat  on
Jan. 14. The intensity of the riots in an area that had been in communal
peace , even during 2002 tragedy , was a cause of serious concern.  More
troubling  it involved tribals and Koli Patels, against Muslims. A
delegation consisted of JUH , Gujarat President, Maulana Rafiq Badodvi;
AIMMM Gujarat  President, Maulana Habibur Rehman Matadar;  Maulana Salman,
Zidni Ilma President J.S.Bandukwala, and the All India Majlis Tameer e
Millat , Gujarat  organiser, Munir Kheruwala.

Hansot has a Muslim population of about 5000, out of a total of 11000.
The town was on edge due to  one Sunil Patel who  had posted in late
December an insulting image of the Holy Prophet on the social media This
had led to tension. Muslims had organized a protest rally. Hindus arranged
a counter Dharma Parishad, led by Vithal Patel.   The trigger was a minor
kite incident on Jan. 14.
A firm Police action could have saved Hansot. Sadly the Police
Superintendent  Bipin Ahire , actually directed attacks on Muslims.   Any
man with a beard and topi was roughed up , with police a silent spectator.
Over 200 bighas of standing sugar cane crop was burnt, in such a way that
the touching Hindu plot was not affected at all. Muslim businesses were
looted and many burnt. Within a few hours , the loss was about 4 crores.
Two people died of stabbings and a 33 year old tempo driver was killed.

The violence spread so fast , that it appears   meticulously planned.

The presence of a Union Minister, Mansukh Vasawa two days prior to the riot appears suspicious.
About 25 Muslims have been arrested. But the police is most reluctant to
arrest Hindus. The principal culprit Vallabh Patel, brother of a local MLA,
moves about town freely. About 200 BJP members have resigned from the
party, protesting that the name of the brother of the MLA, is not yet
removed from the FIR. The other demand is that Muslims must not receive any
compensation for the loss suffered.

Muslims  protest the manner in which the Gujarat administration is handling
this sensitive case. Muslims have almost no voice in this government.  In
the interest of justice and to prevent a recurrence of such bloody riots,
some suggestions are

1) The Government machinery must be neutral and fair. The culprits must be
arrested and the law must take its course.

2) Two mosques and one madrassa were vandalized. The Government must
compensate for the same.

3) The property and business loss has been huge. They must get the full

4) The burning down of  standing sugar cane , must also be compensated.

5) Disciplinary action must be taken against the Police Superintendent
Bipin Ahire.

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