Saturday, July 5, 2008

What Happened in Mau

A summary of an extensive report on the causes and action with respect to the communal riots in Mau.

Recently, during the celebrations of Dussehra and observance of Ramzan, the district of Maunath Bhanjan (more popularly known as Mau) in eastern UP, witnessed communal tensions and widespread violence. A fact finding team, consisting of Professor Rooprekha Verma (social activist and Secretary of Saajhi Duniya), Mr. Vibhuti Narain Rai (President of Saajhi Duniya, litterateur and activist on issues related to communalism) and Mr. Nasiruddin Haider Khan (journalist) visited the riot-affected areas in Mau to determine the causes of violence.

The team spoke to the victims of violence, social and political workers, ordinary public and officers of district administration. The following is a synopsis of their report – the detailed version may be found here.

Mau, home to farmers and silk saree weavers ( 80% Hindu and 20% Muslim), been a communally sensitive district, having previously suffered communal riots in 1969, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1990 and 2000. The shift in economic power from poor handloom weavers to big retailers and traders , after the advent of the power loom, seems to have fed the undercurrent of tension between the two communities.

Every year, during Dussehra, a Bharat Milap ritual takes place in Mau. The site of the Milap is very near the Shahi Katra Masjid in an area which has majority of Muslim population. This site has been at the eye of several controversies, including a court case, which were sorted out amicably by members of both communities. Every year, the Bharat Milap function sees a heavy security arrangement, due to high probabilities of riots and tensions.

This year, Dussehra coincided with Ramzan. The precursor to the riot, started out as a simple dispute over the use of loudspeakers and disturbance of peace on 13th October, the scheduled date for the Bharat Milap function. Some minor incidents led to some Muslim youths being arrested, who were later left off.

The Ram Lila committee were not happy with the youths being let off and fearing further trouble, postponed the Bharat Milap to 29th October. This issue would have ended here, but it seems that other organizations were fishing for such opportunities to spark further trouble. Rivalry and show of power attempts by BJP and Hindu Yuva Vahini, resulted in fresh trouble and further aggravation. Roads were blocked on 14th October in areas that are considered highly communally sensitive. Provocative sloganeering, stone throwing and firing (started by leaders of the Hindu Yuva Vahini) started the riots

The riots spread to different areas, shops and clinics were looted, property was being targeted community wise and destroyed; further, false rumour mongering and the inactivity and ineffectiveness of the police aggravated the situation.

In Salahabad, a big factory named Shimla Saree was the victim of very heavy looting and arson. A mosque near the Mau railway station was attacked. The looms and houses of Muslim weavers in Alinagar and Chhutki Rahjania were attacked. Likewise, in the Hindu dominated area in Pardahan Rana Khatoon's Rajeev Gandhi Mahavidyalaya is victim of mass scale violence.

According to official information in three days (Oct. 14, 15 & 16) eight persons died in the riots. More than 300 houses, about 300 small and big business establishment, shops and kiosks have been looted and/or damaged. The biggest losers were the Muslim weavers, as approximately 150-200 power looms were destroyed. Many looms were dug and taken away by the looters and this operation must have taken hours. These weavers are now facing starvation. Also badly hit by the riots were people who are daily wagers or have small earnings.

The extended report details all the areas attacked and destroyed during the riots.

Mau remained under open violence for more than 72 hours. Total lack of will on the part of the state was clearly visible. On the 5th day of riot police filed FIR's against about 250 persons including Mukhtar Ansari, BJP MLC Ramji Singh , Hindu Yuva Vahini Leaders Ajit Singh Chandel and Sujit Kumar Singh, BSP's ex – MLA Nasim Ahmad on the charges of inciting riots, murder, arson and destruction. The BJP has reacted vociferously on Ramji Singh's arrest and is challenging the state on this.

The media also remained partial on several occasions. The manner, in which TV Channels showed the clippings of Mukhtar Ansari by suppressing his voice, makes it clear that they wanted to give the message to their viewers that Mukhtar was at the center of the riot and he alone was responsible for the loss of Hindus' life and property. National and regional dailies like the Times of India, Hindustan Times and Indian Express also gave very biased views of the riots.

In spite of all the loss and apparent absence of humanity, there were instances of kindness and hope in substantial numbers, where several persons who saved the lives of people and challenged the rioters, like Parmhans Singh and Imtiyaz dot com who helped restore peace in Hindu and Muslim areas by taking rounds along with the residents of Keyari Tola and Dakshin Tola; in the Chandpura grain market, Comrade Wasiullah Hasan stood in front of looters, saying that the shops could be damaged only after taking his life. In Salahabad, Singhasan Yadav helped a Muslim escape from the rioters. Some Muslims guarded the Kaali Temple in Malik tahirpura and shops of Hindus in Ibrahim Market.

These gestures are very important for all those who trust in humanity. The initiative of these people proves that a little bit of courage by civic society is sufficient to abating such riots.

Mau Riot 2005 : Second report by Saajhi Duniya

Prof. Rooprekha Verma
Vibhuti Narain Rai &
Nasiruddin Haider Khan

you can find this report in Hindi here.

Introduction :

There is lot of confusion in the media about the communal tension and widespread violence which began in Mau on 13-14th October 2005. Consequently “Saajhi Duniya� considered it necessary to visit Mau and acquaint itself with real situation. The first team of Saajhi Duniya visited Mau on the 20th October when the city was under total curfew. Again on Oct. 30 & 31 the representatives of Saajhi Duniya went to Mau. This team comprised of Prof. Roop Rekha Verma (social activist and Secretary of Saajhi Duniya), Mr. Vibhuti Narain Rai (President of Saajhi Duniya, litterateur and activist on issues related to communalism) and Mr. Nasiruddin Haider Khan (journalist). Mr. Jai Prakash Dhumketu (litterateur and activist) from Mau also joined the group. This team not only visited the riot-affected areas in Mau but also inquired into the causes of violence. The team spoke to the victims of violence, social and political workers, ordinary public and officers of district administration. The following is an attempt to express in words our efforts of 3 days in understanding the latest riot in Mau.

Mau (also called Maunath Bhanjan) has been a communally sensitive district. Previously it was part of Azamgarh. Even at that time Maunath Bhanjan used to witness incidents of communal violence after every few years. The population of Mau is 1853997. The urban population is 360369 and the rural population is 1493628. Within this population around 80.50% are Hindus, out of which 90% population is rural and approximately 10% is urban. Mau district has less than 20% Muslim population. Out of Muslim population 40% is
rural and 60% is urban.

Tana-Bana (Economic Structure) of Mau :

Besides agriculture, Maunath Bhanjan has been famous for silk Sarees. It has been considered a big center of sarees. In the era of handloom most of the workers producing sarees were Muslim. Even among Muslims mainly backward castes were doing this work. In past this trade has repeatedly suffered from violence in riots. Consequently Muslims have been suffering economic loss again and again. With the entry of power loom the character of this trade slightly altered. Powerlooms required more money. . Gradually Hindus
also entered this trade and it is said that their number in this trade is substantial now. Not only this, the number of big Hindu retailers has also increased a lot.

Presently there are 75 thousand powerlooms and about 60 thousand of them are located in the city. Daily about 1.5 to 2 lakh sarees are made. Several members of a family work on the same loom and on average 2 sarees are woven in a day. These days the saree trade of Mau is passing through economic slump and hard competition. The sarees of
Surat have started giving tough competition to Mau sarees. As compared to the latter, the former are lighter and look more attractive and have greater shine. Surat sarees are a little cheaper too. As a result the sarees of Surat have started replacing the sarees of Mau in the markets of Mau and the adjoining areas where Mau sarees earlier had monopoly. The weavers of Mau are not able to meet the challenge of this competition. The wages of weavers have been reduced. The payment for weaving a plain saree used to be Rs.80/- but now it has been reduced to Rs.40/- only. Likewise, the payment for making a saree with “Buta� (all over design) has come down from Rs.100/- or Rs.150/- to Rs. 80/- or 85/-. This is the collective earning of 3 or 4 persons in a family who work on the loom and not of a single person.

Moreover, the weavers of Surat are not dependent on others for material, whereas those of Mau have to depend on outside traders for material. The cost of the material also depends on the sweet will of traders. Supply of electricity is another big problem for the weavers. Electricity is available for maximum 8 hours in a day. The weavers have to somehow labour within these 8 hours to make production sufficient for their livelihood. The big traders have their own generator which the smaller ones can not afford (despite the other difficulties which the weavers faced in the curfew, they were happy that they had electricity for full day.) Another important change in this trade has come in the last 1 or 2 years only. After powerlooms now Chinese Machines are also entering this trade. This machine is used for embroidery which was earlier done manually and the cost of a Chinese machine is around 15 lakh. Due to this machine on the one hand the number of employable workers has drastically reduced, on the other hand it has presented a crisis of existence before small traders. Although just now the number of these machines is very small, in future it may create a great crisis. Presently there are about 25 such
machines in Mau.

Previous History of Riots :

The history of riots in Mau is old. As per available information, in 1969, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1990 and 2000 Mau has been victim of riots. In 1984 during riots even an officer of district administration had lost his life. Another thing to underline in this context is that after the demolition of Babri Masjid good sense and timely intervention by CPI leaders prevented
any violent incident in Mau.

Background of the Recent Riot :

Before understanding the background of this riot it is necessary to know another fact. In Mau the most important programme out of all the activities held during Dushehra, is Bharat Milap. During Bharat Milap a ‘ritual’ is performed which is important although it appears ridiculous and due to this ritual this programme has always been a cause of worry for police and administration. The site of Bharat Milap is adjacent to the Shahi Katra Masjid in an area which has majority of Muslim population. It is said that several years ago there was a controversy regarding the construction of a gate in the mosque. The controversy reached courts too. Later people from both the community deliberated over the issue and decided that when the chariot of Bharat Milap would enter the site of the programme, it would strike at the gate of the mosque thrice. Similarly the ‘ritual’ is that on the occasion of Mohharam Muslim would climb up and down three steps of Sanskrit Pathshala which is situated in the neighbouring area. Ultimately it amounts to the appeasement of the ego of both the communities !

Every year organizing Bharat Milap becomes a great challenge to administration. Always heavy security arrangement is made on this occasion and the administration remains tense until the programme is over.

This year Bharat Milap coincided with Ramzan. The day fixed for Bahart Milap was 13th October. The yatra of Bharat Milap starts late evening and reaches the site of the final programme next early morning. During this time the programme of singing Birha , a popular folk form of songs continues on this site. On the evening of 13th October Birha was being sung on loudspeakers on the above mentioned site adjacent to Shahi Katra Masjid. This was the time of reciting the Taravih in the mosque. The reciters of Taravih objected to the use of loudspeakers because of being disturbed due to loud sound. On the request of an elderly man loudspeakers stopped but after a short while they again started blurting. On this some Muslim youth snatched away the wires of loudspeakers. Police caught these young man and locked them up in police station.

During the whole episode the required effective security arrangements were absent. Some people reached police station after the news of the arrest of the young man. Under pressure the arrested youth were let off. Ram Lila Committee did not like the release of the Muslim youth. After sometime some members of Ram Lila Committee, BJP MLC
Mr. Ramji Singh, some other leaders of BJP and officers of administration reached the site for talks. Ram Lila Committee felt that in such an atmosphere the security of those who would come to see Bharat Milap could not be guaranteed, it was not possible to organize the function. After discussions with the administration the Committee decided to postpone the Bharat Milap function to October 29. The whole controversy seemed to have ended at this point. But the conflict had really not been resolved. Some organizations, it seemed, were looking for an opportunity like this. Rivalry of BJP ,established representative of Hindus and Hindu Yuva Vahini , an organization of Yogi Aditya Nath , trying to capture the space occupied by BJP was also responsible for fresh trouble. This was demonstrated by re-starting loudspeakers on 13th October.

Next day (14th October) morning workers of Hindu Yuva Vahini and Hindu Maha Sabha blocked the road near Sanskrit Pathshala which is near Shahi Katra Masjid and the site of Bharat Milap under the leadership of Ajit Singh Chandel, Puneet Singh Chandel, Sujit Kumar Singh etc. against the postponement of Bharat Milap. The choice of the place for blocking the road was sufficient to indicate the plan of confrontation and conflict. This place is considered highly communally sensitive. The residence of Chandel is also situated
on the tri-section where the road was blocked. The demonstrators were making allegations of cowardice and negligence of Hindu interest by Ram Lila Committee and BJP leaders. To heat up the atmosphere the crowd was shouting very provocative slogans. Police failed to intervene effectively at this juncture . After this as usual the riot started. Slogan shouting, stone pelting and firing… ! The firing was started by the Chandel brothers who are leaders of Hindu Yuva Vahini. Several got injured. In fact violence started from
this incident.

Regime of Violence :

The bleeding Muslim boys who were injured from the firing by Chandel brothers were carried to hospital in open rickshaw trolley and they past through the areas of which were mostly Muslim inhabited. The display of these injured boys added fuel to fire. The public thought that there was mass scale blood shed and they took these boys as dead. After this, agitated Muslims came on streets. Shops owned by Hindus in Sadar Chowk and Rauza area were targeted. Some persons were killed also. About a dozen shops in Sadar Chowk, Rauza and Kaudi Building were looted. The looted shops included Typing Shop of Jagdish Rai, Clinic of a Dentist Dr. Vijay Odhekar, Saree Shop of Ram Gopal,
Gupta radios, Raman Electrical Works, Sari Shop of IC Kedia, Cloth Shop of Dina Nath Agarwal, Jaiswal Vastralya, Sindhi Bidi, Hardware shop of Triloki, four shops on Chandpura road (in which three belong to Muslims), office of Jamia Ahle Hadith, Jadi Booti Shop of Vikram, few shops adjacent to Munshipura overbridge etc.

The shops looted in these areas largely belong to Hindus. Some of these shops are very big and old. The estimate is that they must have suffered loss of several lacs. Out of these shops three were totally burnt and damaged. It is worth attention that dozens of Hindus’ shops near these looted/burnt shops are totally safe and untouched. The damage seems to be very selective. The rumour of looting and desertion in Sindhi colony remained strong for a few days but it turned out to be false and baseless. During relaxation in curfew all the shops in this area were found to be open and full of goods.

According to some a few shops among the looted/damaged shops were under the controversy of tenancy and perhaps some persons took advantage of the prevailing
chaos and settled the matter in this way. In one of the above mentioned areas a soap godown in Goenka Bhawan behind Chandel’s residence was looted. During this time police did not act in the way in which they should have. They remained mostly inactive and ineffective. False rumour of massacre of Hindus spread. It was also widely rumored that there property had been completely destroyed and there daughters were kidnapped. These rumours were baseless but sufficient to ignite violent reaction. After this, in the Hindu
dominated new areas in the eastern parts of the city and in some other areas violence, loot, arson and destruction started and continued for several days in different stages. In these areas very selectively the shops, houses and factories owned by Muslim were targeted. Further off Sadar Chowk in the Hindu dominated Bal Nekatan a kiosk of a Muslim was burnt while three shops of Ahmad Beej Bhandar were looted and in Ali Building in Sahadatpura area several Shops owned by Muslims like Sansar Electronics, Jeans
Corner, Jeans Collection and Sana Duptta Centre were looted or burnt. This is a very big market and a large number of shops owned by Hindus adjacent to the looted
shops were fully safe. Not only this, during the relaxation of curfew if one looked at the large number of open shops, one could notice only with great difficulty that some isolated shops in the midst of these open shops were totally ruined. Very few Muslim shops remained intact in this area. The information is that to save these shops the owners paid heavy fee to the local goons.

On the Ghazipur tri-section two pure vegetarian restaurants, namely, Girhast Plaza and Paris Plaza were victims of damage and loot. The glasses on their exterior were totally damaged. Girhast Plaza was looted also although the rioters could not loot or damage them very heavily. The owners of both these restaurants are Muslims. Further ahead of Ghazipur tri-section on the by pass road Habib hospital of Dr. Asghar Ali was damaged and his new scorpio jeep and a motor cycle were charred in arson. Dr. Asghar Ali some
how managed to save his life and fled away. Further up on this road in Brahmsthan , a big complex including Ahmad Beej Bhandar was extensively looted and then set
to flames. In our visit on the 20th we saw smoke still billowing from this complex although it was 5th day of violence in Mau.

On Salahabad turn a big factory named Shimla Saree of famous Haji Mukhtar was victim of very heavy loot and arson. Three big computerized Chinese machines, about
twenty thousand sarees, computer, generator, fridge, furniture all were burnt or looted and estimated loss is of about 1 crore. Without seeing this factory it is difficult to imagine the loss. It is a matter of great surprise such a big factory and its costly gadgets had no insurance cover.

After this incident a big crowd of Muslims reached this area and indulged in loot and arson in about a dozen shops owned by Hindus in the vicinity. This arson burnt tractor, van and motor cycle etc. These shops, by and large, had the investment of small capital. Two or three shops among these were damaged also. According to some persons who spoke to us, during this violence some Hindus called Mukhtar Ansari for saving them. Even though Mukhtar Ansari reached there, violence did not stop. In the presence of Mukhtar Ansari firing took place and one person died. An FIR against Mukhtar Ansari was lodged in this case although later the complainant disowned his allegation. Now even police officers are saying tongue in cheek that the firing was not done by Mukhtar Ansari.

Further ahead of Shimla Saree factory, Modern School of Mr. Shahid and Mau Modern School of Mr. Hamid were victims of damage. Shahid and Hamid are brothers. Previously there was only one school in the partnership of both the brothers but later they set up two separate schools. Their buses were damaged and lot of other goods were burnt down. These schools are located on Salahabad turn in the midst of Hindu population. On 14th October rioters attacked a mosque near Mau Railway Station. After attacking this mosque the rioters proceeded towards another mosque adjacent to rail line. To save this mosque the Muslims from the adjoining area came forward to chase them away. These
Muslims came on the railway station. Because of their arrival although the rioters ran away but Muslims attacked the railway employees and passengers there.

One person injured in this violence died later during treatment. To quell this attack the GRP fired on the rioters as a consequence of which one Muslim boy died. The most horrifying face of this riot is Alinagar and Chhutki Rahjania. About 2 km away from Salahabad turn. These areas were targets of violence in several stages. The whole area is new habitation of Muslim weavers. Almost every house runs powerloom. The houses are made of bricks but excepting one house none has plaster on it. These weavers possess small
capital. It is said that after the events at Salahabad turn as a chain reaction these Muslim weavers’ habitations were attacked.

The first attack was made on the 14th October. Slogan shouting and stone throwing took place but as the Muslims who had come for Namaz (prayers) in the mosque of this area,
retailiated and raised alarm, the rioters ran away. The next day, that is, on October 15, Hindus from the neighbouring colony started deserting the area. Under scare and suspicion some Muslims also started fleeing.

By noon there was heavy attack on Alinagar & Chhutki Rahjania. Every one started fleeing towards the main city on the other side of the railway line leaving every thing behind. Some persons who were fleeing to save their lives fell into the hands of police and were arrested. After seeing this area the estimate is that in about 150 houses arson and loot continued for a long time. Powerlooms have been either broken or burnt down. Whatever property the houses had was looted. There are several like Nazma who had kept
jewellery and other items for the marriage of her daughter after Id and all these were looted and damaged in violence. In this area two mosque were damaged. These mosques were subjected to arson after loot. We could see the torn pieces and half burnt pieces of Quran too in the mosque and scattered outside in the fields. Residents have started returning to Alinagar but the number of such persons is still very small. By 30th October when we visited Alinagar very few members of small number of families had returned. In Chhotki Rahjania only the structure of about two dozen houses is left. Even the windows and doors alongwith the frames had been taken out by the vandals. From some houses entire powerlooms have been uprooted and taken away. The hand pumps and toilets are broken too. When we asked the persons working in the adjoining fields and the boys playing
cricket in the fields nearby who the owners of these houses were they were not ready to speak out and feigned ignorance. Even after 15 days of violence the owners have not dared to return.

Besides these areas, on Gorakhpur- Varanasi road the Narja Filling Station owned by Burhanuddin Khan was looted and burnt. Nothing in this petrol pump was found intact. Likewise, in the Hindu dominated area in Pardahan Rana Khatoon’s Rajeev Gandhi Mahavidyalaya is victim of mass scale violence. Nothing is left safe in this school. Gate, the doors, windows and even the iron grills have been taken away from this school. The things which the looters could not take away, have been damaged and reduced to ashes. The adjacent house belonging to Simran Khan also presented similar picture. It is obvious that all this work could not be done in one or two hours. It was clearly done in a leisurely way and seems to be the handiwork of those who perhaps had full confidence that the administration would not interfere. It is surprising that all this violence was perpetrated for several
hours in an area which is only a few steps away from the residence of the District Judge. One of the police personnel told us that Rana Khatoon is great supporter of sarva dharma sambhav and used to financially support the function of Krishna Janmashtami.

About 15 or 16 factories were looted in Tajpur New Industrial Estate. In these factories each had about four or five power looms. The rioters took away some of these power looms and the rest were consigned to fire. Excepting one, all others belonged to Muslims. In Salempur near Rampur Chakia approximately one and half dozen houses of Muslims were victims of loot and arson. The looms installed in these houses also suffered damage.

The garden of CPI leader Imtiaz Ahmad, located on the other side of the river, also suffered substantial loss. Four junk shop on by pass, A clinic of a doctor, Kanpur Machinery Stores (engine, motor, thrasher etc.), Airlight Machinery near old govt. hospital, dyeing factory in Ranveer Pura, about a dozen wholesale shops of vegetable market of Bhiti and
Azamgarh tri-section, the school of municipal chairman in Matlupur, many shops in Ratanpura market, Kasimpur, Devparva, Munshi Purva, Adari Indara, Chiriaya Kot, Ranipur etc. were targets of loot and arson. All these shops and factories belong to Muslims. One such shop belongs to a Muslim who used to supply tents and all other material for arranging Durga Puja every year. Some boys of Faidullapur badly beat up the Muslim Pradhan of Kurthi Jafarpur and he had to be admitted to hospital. From both the villages the respective
minorities have fled away.

As per the information we gathered till now, in this riot eight mosques were subjected to assault. These were looted, damaged and burnt. During our visit in one or two places some special type of slogans were also seen, e.g., ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Jai Mata Di’,’Musalmano kaatna Hinduon se sikho’. These slogans point at a certain tendency and it is essential to
understand it.

On the 5th day of riot police filed FIR’s against about 250 persons including Mukhtar Ansari, BJP MLC Ramji Singh , Hindu Yuva Vahini Leaders Ajit Singh Chandel and Sujit Kumar Singh, BSP’s ex – MLA Nasim Ahmad on the charges of inciting riots, murder, arson and destruction.

BJP leaders tried their best to encash this opportunity to gain their lost ground. The type of statements these leaders issued in the very beginning of the riot are sufficient proof. Kalyan singh (national Vice President of BJP), Keshrinath Tripathi (state president) and Lalji Tondon (Leader of opposition in UP legislature) took up the front in Lucknow. They blamed the riots on the appeasement policy of the government. They publicly spread the rumours that the members of a particular community were fleeing from place to place to save their lives.

They made Mukhtar Ansari solely responsible for the riot. Suddenly these BJP leadres beacame very active. Keshri Nath Tripathi, on his arrest while trying to enter Mau, even said that SP government is bent upon making Muslim a majority community and, He alleged, this was the reason why selectively Hindus were being massacred. Yogi AdityaNath also said similar things on being prevented from going to Mau. Such falsehoods were repeated uttered in public and such an atmosphere belief was created as if mass annihilation of Hindus was in progress.

After lot of hue and cry Mukhtar surrendered in Ghazipur in connection with some other case and police could succeed in arresting Ramji Singh much later on 2nd November 05. Before this Mukhtar and Ramji Singh were freely roaming around and police was not arresting them despite having FIR’s against them. Ramji Singh had openly dared the state to arrest him and face the consequences. After his arrest too BJP has given a tough reaction and again dared the state to face the consequences.

The Victims of Riot :

According to the official information in three days (Oct. 14,15 & 16) eight persons died in the riot. Two died on the 14th, two on 15th and 4 on 16th. One boy died in the violence but out of fear his family members buried him without getting postmortem done. Among the dead were 5 Hindus and 4 Muslims. As per official information between 14th and 29th October 37 persons were injured. As per public information there are many other injured persons who were not sent to hospitals and thus are not included in the list. (The
official lists of the dead and the injured is enclosed.) The number of those who have been arrested till 30th of October on the charges of violence or only on suspicion is 442. Of these 205 are Hindus and 237 are Muslims. A large number of people complained of police excess. In weavers colony Muslim women and men complained that police-PAC arrested people after breaking open the door late night. Among the arrested, they alleged, were minors.

Loss :

According to one estimate more than 300 houses have been victim of arson, loot and damage, about 300 small and big business establishment, shops and kiosks have
been looted or put to flames. The biggest loser is the Muslim weaver. As per the information gathered till now approximately 150-200 power looms have been devoured by the riot. Mostly these Power looms were owned by Muslims. The temerity shown by the rioters is astounding .Many looms were dug and taken away by the looters and this operation must have taken hours.These weavers are now facing starvation.

The worst hit people are those who are daily wagers or have small earnings. The atrocious condition of Mau during riot can be gauged from the fact that even after fourteen days it could not be linked with Rail service. Even after a fortnight the situation did not permit simultaneous relaxation of curfew for a couple of hours in different parts of the city. A crisis of
bread and butter was created for the common public at the time of festivals. The happiness of Diwali and Eid had evaporated from people's lives. The total loss must be in Crores.

The Role of Mukhatr Ansari :

Mukhtar Ansari is independent MLA from Mau Sadar. Any one who takes interest in the eastern U.P. must be acquainted with the activities of Mukhtar Ansari. The base of Mukhtar is Ghazipur . The general perception of common man is that Mukhtar is a brute murderer and extortionist and it is not far from the truth as his deeds in the past have been such which should invite strictest punishment from the law enforcement system.

He is accused in several cases of murder, kidnapping and ransom. He has also been to jail several times. A characteristic of Mukhtar is that he has been mostly with the ruling parties. Presently he is a supporter of Samajwadi Party (SP). During the last BSP regime he was supporter of BSP govt. In the last assembly elections Samajwadi Party had alliance with CPI. The seat of Mau Sadar was allotted to CPI. Despite this agreement the workers of SP worked for Mukhtar instead of CPI candidate. Mukhtar also campaigned for several SP candidates on the seats of neighbouring areas.

Constant focus on Mukhtar Ansari by the media gave the impression that the assaults on Hindus were made under the leadership of Mukhtar Ansari. Not only this, Mukhtar Ansari was presented by media as the main cause of violence. To establish this the electronic media, specially ‘Aaj Tak’, repeatedly showed a clipping in which Mukhtar Ansari was shown moving around in a open jeep with armed security personnel and running behind crowd. The interesting thing was that in the whole clipping the voice of Mukhtar Ansari
was missing; the clipping was mute. According to our information this CD was made by some stringers of electronic channels who were on Mukhtar Ansari’s jeep during his visit to the riot prone area.. Obviously Mukhtar Ansari must have offered them place in the jeep. Later when the actual CD was shown , it was revealed that there Mukhtar Ansari was in an entirely different role. This CD had the voice of Mukhtar too.

He was exhorting people to go back, giving instructions to send the injured to hospital and talking to police officers. The boys injured in the firing by Chandel were lying in police station and Mukhtar Ansari Sent them to hospital in his jeep. We also got the information that when violence started in the city, Mukhtar Ansari was not present there. He was seen on the streets after several hours. According to most of the persons in both the communities with whom we talked Mukhtar Ansari was trying to pacify the crowds and he also arranged to send the injured to hospitals. The people even said that on the Salahabad turn it were Hindus who called Mukhtar Ansari to save them although he had to face stone pelting and ultimately he had to run away.

Despite all this the commonly held opinion is that mere presence of Mukhtar Ansari should have encouraged the lumpen elements in Muslim community. The question is how could Mukhtar Ansari openly moved around in the city despite curfew ? The argument of Mukhtar Ansari is that he is a legislator and as a people’s representative he came on streets to quell violence. However Mukhtar Ansari has another image besides being a people’s representative and this image can have adverse affect on such occasions as in Mau.

The Role of Police and Administration:

It is common belief that the district administration of Mau used to dance at the tune of Mukhtar Ansari and the officers of his choice were appointed in Mau. Such an administration might have been good for other things but to counter communal riots in professional ways was not possible for these officers. That is why riot continued. Mau remained under open violence for more than 72 hours. Total lack of will on the part of the state was clearly visible. According to the information given to us, on 13th October two companies of PAC were available in Mau. These were the days when district panchayat elections were being held and therefore it is quite natural to believe that a big part of the available security force might have been posted in the distant areas. On 14th October after the riots started, 3 companies of PAC, 2 companies of RAF and 4 DSP’s had reached Mau. After riots, elections in Mau were also postponed and thus the force posted for elections also became available for controlling the riots. On 15th October 3 addl. Companies of PAC, 12
DSP’s and 20 Inspectors were sent to Mau. On 16th October 2 more companies of PAC were made available to Mau administration. It is clear thus that even if on 14th October Mau administration had insufficient police force, on October 15 & 16 the available police force was sufficient in the real sense of the term to control a small place like Mau.

On 14th October both Hindus and Muslims suffered in terms of life and property. But the violence on October 15 & 16 mainly affected the life and property of Muslims. Not that the administration did not have sufficient police force in fact it is an open example of the lack of will power of the state. It looked as if the organs of the state did not wish to stop violence. Only as a fallout of this attitude of the administration Alinagar, Chhotaki Rahzania, Shimla Sadiwale, Chakia, Ali Building, Khadi Store in Ranveerpura, Narza Filing center, Ahmad Beej Bhandar, Tajpur New Industrial Estate, Areas nearby Nadi Us Paar were targeted for violence after 14 October.

Hindu Yuva Vahini and Yogi Adityanath in Purvanchal :

Whatever is happening in Purvanchal is occasionally discussed but there is no serious initiative to analyse the same. For last one decade the aggressive activities of heir of Goraksha Peeth and BJP MP Yogi Adityanath to organized Hindus was clearly reflected in the riot in Mau. During the last decade the Yogi has made this entire area, specially the area known as Gorakhpur during the times of Britishers, his laboratory. The supporters of Yogi Aditya Nath used to shout slogans at the time of his political emergence,
'To live in Gorakhpur one has to chant Yogi...Yogi' (Gorakhpur men rahna hai to yogi yogi kahna hoga). As the area of his influence is expanding, this slogan is also taking new forms. Now the slogan is, 'To live in Purvanchal, One has to chant Yogi...Yogi. (Purvanchal men rahna hai to yogi yogi kahna Hai).

The maximum influence of the Yogi is in the 7 districts of Gorakhpur Division (Gorakhpur, Deoria, Kushinagar, Mahrajganj) and Basti Division (Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Siddharthanagar). Now he is spreading his wings in Azamgarh Division. Mau is a part of this division.

The Yogi functions through different organizations which he calls cultural organizations. Included among these organizations are Hindu Yuva Vahani, Hindu Jagran Manch, Sri Ram Shakti Prakoshtha, Gorakhnath, Purvanchal Vikas Manch, Vishwa Hindu Mahasabha and Hindu Mahasabha. The main functionary of all these organizations is only Yogi Adityanath. A candidate has won the assembly elections on the ticket of Yogi’s Hindu Mahasabha from Gorakhpur Sadar and has reached the assembly as MLA. But the most vital organization for Yogi is Hindu Yuva Vahini. This organization comprises mostly unemployed youth, small level criminals and the youth struggling for identity. For them any small event involving Muslims becomes very important. As soon as they receive the information of such an event, the workers of Hindu Yuva Vahini reach there as the messengers of Yogi and later Yogi himself reaches . Most of their acts are destructive like arson, destruction of property and beating. A lively example is Mohanmundera episode in Kushinagar. Here a Muslim boy raped a Hindu girl and the girl died during treatment. After 3 days when Yogi came to know about this, he reached there with his Vahini workers. The property of all the 72 Muslims families was looted. Their houses were put to fire. Masjid was damaged. Police remained a neutral witness. There are several such examples.

If for any reason revenge could not be taken then they hold a meeting on the same spot where the event took place. They called such a meeting ‘Hindu Sangam’ or ‘Hindu Chetna Sangam’. When Yogi’s effort to go to Mau with his workers, after the riots started, did not succeed then he held a meeting at Dohri Ghat itself where he was stopped. This polarized Hindus and it affected the elections of district panchayat membership also. Not only this, it also emboldened the supporter of Yogi in Mau and the wrong message of mass scale massacre of Hindus was sent to the places outside the district. When Yogi Adityanath came to Lucknow in connection with a programme recently, he not only repeated the falsehood that Hindus were being massacred in Mau but also gave a warning of revenge. Some analyst contended that the spread of Yogi’s work is really the result of administrative inaction. Not only this, Yogi is also taking the advantages of the fact that the other political parties have abandoned the struggle for development.

The Role of Media:

In connection with the events of Mau the role of media remained partial on several occasions. The manner, in which TV Channels showed the clippings of Mukhtar Ansari by suppressing his voice, makes it clear that they wanted to give the message to their viewers that Mukhtar was at the center of the riot and he alone was responsible for the loss of Hindus' life and property. Whatever other allegations may be rightfully made against Mukhtar Ansari, the truth is that had media made public both the audio and the visual aspects of the CD, his image would have been entirely different. In print media too Mukhtar was presented as the main culprit. Although on the first day one newspaper clearly published that 'Stones were pelted on the Sadar MLA Mukhtar Ansari who reached the site of the riot to pacify the people', soon all the newspaper including this one presented him as the central cause of violence.

Not only this, whether it be Hindi newspapers or English papers, all of them published news giving the impression as if only Hindus were the victims of loss. Newspapers did not give any clear information regarding how the riots started and who started them. Moreover, for days together did not mention the names of the organizations or their leaders like Hindu Yuva Vahini, Hindu Mahasabha or BJP. Any names different from Mukhtar Ansari appeared in newspapers only after five days after riots when FIR's were filed against
them. 'The Times of India' went to the extent of giving a front page headline on October 18, Feeling of insecurity grips Hindus in Mau, giving the impression that exclusively Hindus were being targeted in the riot and they were all living under the shadow of fear. 'Indian Express' also published such news. In the Gorakhpur edition of the newspaper Dainik jagran
the situation in Mau was equated with that in Kashmir. In one news item it said that ' The days are not far when Mau city would become synonymous with Kashmir'. Another news item in this newspaper declared that 'the condition of Mau was much more dangerous than even the civil war in Kashmir'. Besides, the news items in the papers Amar Ujala, Hindustan, Hindustan Times etc. also painted biased pictures of Mau.

Lack of Intervention by Political Forces:

There was a time when Mau was a strong center of Leftists. Mau, Ghazipur, Azamgarh and Balia were the places where not only leftists had strong holds but from these places candidates of Communist Party of India used to get elected as MLAs and MPs. Today the situation is that the CPI candidate losses his deposit and person like Mukhtar Ansari gets elected. During the tense period after the demolition of Babri Masjid, the intervention by the communist leader (CPI) Imtiyaz Ahmad played substantial role in preventing violence. Even today people remember his role and say that had Imtiyaz Ahmad been in the city during riots, at least in Rouza and Chowk shops of Hindus wouldn't have been
looted. The major point is that when a party with a people oriented ideology and strong base in people's struggle loses its base, such forces occupy its space which flourish on riots and violence. Moreover, the silence and inaction on the part of civil society also is a cause of concern.

Example of Humanity:

'Had Muslims not saved them, how have Hindus in the old city survived?' This comment from a political worker is very important. In Mau there are several persons who saved the lives of people and challenged the rioters. There are quite a few in persons in this city like Haji Abdul Sattar, Abdul Samad and Haji Wakil who challenged the rioters in Sindhi Colony, or like Salim Ansari, Qamruzzaman and Haji Irfan who stopped the fanatics. On other hand there are people like Ashok Singh, who saved the Grihastn Plaza at Ghazipur tri-section from arson, Anil Rai who defended a furniture shop against looters, Hindu Landlords near Ali building who saved Noorkamal, Doctor Udai Narain Singh, who saved two lives, Ashok Gupta who gave shelter to Nine Muslims. In Indara a Muslim sheltered several Hindus, when a mob was approaching towards them, and had his fingers in tangled in the door, while closing it, chopped off by knife attack. The Hindus under his shelter remained safe and intact.

Parmhans Singh and Imtiyaz helped restore peace in Hindu and Muslim areas by taking rounds along with the residents of Keyari Tola and Dakshin Tola. Iqbal and his wife in Keyari tola saved Harizan Basti. They stood like rock in front of violent mob. Likewise a Muslim woman of Kasaitola near Paithan tola challenged the rioters. In Chandpura a Muslim defended a Hindu milk-trader and in Hussainpura Muslims saved a Khatal. In Chandpura grain market when rioters reached for arson, Comrade Wasiullah Hasan stood on their way, saying that the shops could be damaged only after taking his life. On Salahabad turn Singhasan Yadav helped a Muslim escape from the rioters. Some Muslims
guarded the Kaali Temple in Malik tahirpura and shops of Hindus in Ibrahim Market.

Inferences from the Riot:

1. The riot in Mau is entirely the result of the failure of the administration and the state.

2. This riot of Mau is the biggest and the most fearsome of all the riots, which took place here. For the first time on such large scale the rioters organized themselves and executed violence in a systematic manner. The loss has also been maximum.

3. According to the public Mau it is also for the first time that during the riot Schools and Hospitals belonging to minority community vandalized and large scale attacks on Mosques were made. This is a great cause of worry.

4. Power loom is life line of the weavers. Destruction of power looms is connected with their economic ruin. The weavers require immediate help in view of the destructions of the power looms.

5. What was limited to discourses only is now a naked truth before us. Eastern UP is sitting on the mouth of communal volcano. Anything may happen any time here-The riot in Mau and the violence in the neighboring areas clearly tell this. Just after the riot in Mau there were quick attempt to incite communal violence in Ballia, Ghazipur, Azamgarh,
Devaria, Merrut and Agra.

6. The intervention of secular forces is absolutely essential to stop this flow of communalism. The state will also have to show its willpower. Otherwise, several other Maus can occur.

7. Even in this violent situation , such individuals came forward in substantial number, who not only saved the lives of the persons of other community but also risked their own lives and frustrated the attempts of the rioters. This gestures is very important for all those, who have trust in humanity. The initiative of these people proves that a little bit of courage is
sufficient for chasing away the rioters.


Unknown said...

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fahd said...

vibhuti ji ! After all mau people are praising mukhtar and he ia the winner of this election. I feel shame that i belong to this place.