Another Muslim-Dalit Riot in UP, this time in Azamgarh

Tension erupted in Nizamabad area of Azamgarh, UP after Muslims and Hindu Dalits clashed in Khudadadpur village on the night of 14th May. The violence, which continued till the next morning and later spread to neighboring areas, left many people, including police officers, badly injured. The entire area is still tense and heavy police and RAF (Rapid Action Force) presence is in place. The sequence of events, as sourced from UP based newspapers, is as follows –

    • On 3 May, there was a physical altercation between one Danish (son of the Khudadadpur village Pradhan) & Musafir Ram, after which Musafir lodged a police complaint. Police, however, did not take any action on this complaint.
    • Then on 13 May (Friday), there was another brawl between the two men, this time in the presence of police.
    • On 14 May (Saturday), a Muslim mob attacked Musafir’s house. The entire family – consisting of Musafir, his wife Renu, five daughters, father Sitaram and mother Mewati – were on the terrace of their house around 5.30 pm, when the mob broke their door and barged in. Everything in the house was destroyed or looted – a refrigerator, cooler, inverter were burnt; a motorcycle, fans, boxes were broken; gas cyclinder was stolen; 2 boxes containing jewelry, clothes and other valuables were looted; even the puja room was not spared. As per the terrified Sitaram, everything he had earned by working in the Middle East for 25 years (he had returned to Bharat for good 3 years back) had been destroyed in one night. The entire family managed to escape certain death by jumping over the boundary wall adjacent to their terrace. They are currently taking refuge with relatives in nearby Rani ki Sarai.
    • Soon, other Dalit houses were attacked and burnt – those affected include Jiyalal, Shripat, Seva, Pyarelal, Lalchand, Mewati, Anita, Renu. Villagers claim that this is the 4th time Muslims and Dalits have clashed in recent times in the area.  They are terrified, and are considering emigrating out of the village if the administration is unable to guarantee their security.
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  • Inflammatory announcements were made from a village mosque which provoked the already volatile mob. They started pelting stones and firing at the police forces who had rushed to the village by then, injuring the Circle Officer, SDM, Tehsildar and 5 other police personnel. The police was finally able to control the situation in Khudadadpur village late at night.
  • The next day, (Sunday 15th May) the rioting spread to nearby Fariha, Banganv, Khanpur and Faridabad villages as well. Around 6 PM, a mob started gathering around the Aara (saw) machine of one Shekhavat in Banganv village. When police tried to disperse the crowd, they started abusing and stone pelting the police. The mob set the aara machine on fire and even tried looting a nearby mobile shop.
  • Around 7 pm that night, a mob jammed the Fariha-Nizamabad main road and started assaulting passer-bys after asking their name to ascertain religious identity. The mob also pelted stones at a PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary) van injuring some PAC constables. Around the same time, the two communities clashed in Khanpur village – incidents of assault, stone pelting, damage to vehicles and arson were reported. Around 7.45 pm, rioters shot at one Bhola Yadav (age 35) who is currently admitted in the district hospital in a serious condition. The police was finally able to control the situation by launching tear gas shells and air firing.
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Locals in the entire area, especially the weaker Hindu Dalit community is living in extreme fear, and many have fled to relatives’ in other places – life is even tougher for day laborers who are unable to find any work.

The opposition BJP has slammed the UP government as it had failed to prevent frequent attacks on the Dalit community. UP state BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya has expressed serious concern at the rioting and formed a 6 member fact finding team to assess the situation in Azamgarh – however, UP administration has not given them permission to visit. BJP MP Neelam Sonkar was turned away by the police when she tried to visit the affected areas, and a case has been filed against her and other BJP workers.

Police have filed 17 separate cases for the rioting which originated at Khudadadpur and spread to nearby areas, accusing 1579 people in all – charges against them include communal rioting, assault, looting, arson, blocking roads.

Main Protagonists Arrested

On Friday morning, police arrested 5 people from Khudadadpur who were involved in the initial dispute that sparked the entire chain of events: Zorar and his 3 sons – Danish, Mohammed Arshad, Sheraz, and Musafir Ram. It is still not clear why Musafir Ram was arrested as he was the one who’s house was totally destroyed in the attack on 14th May; also, he had filed a police complaint on 3rd May itself against Danish..but this complaint was ignored by police.

In February, one Hindu was killed in a clash between Muslims and Hindu Dalits in Saharanpur (Western UP) district. This earlier article on HinduPost explains what is causing this surge of communal rioting in UP, and how the vulnerable Hindu population of the state is at risk due to the appeasement of radical Islamist elements by the current SP Government. And true to their ‘secular’ colors, our English language media will downplay this riot in Azamgarh, because unlike Dadri, neither the victim nor the perpetrator in this case fits their narrative.

(This article has been curated from multiple articles that appeared in Amar Ujala newspaper)