This release was put out by the RIHAI MANCH on 9 November
Faizabad 9 November 2012: An investigation team of Rihai Manch visited the Bhadarsa village which was affected by communal violence during Dussehra celebrations. The team found out that the violence was well planned and was executed by communal elements in connivance with the administration. The role of the media in this incident is also suspicious. The team also found that the administration is forcing the affected families to erase any evidence of the incident and they have not even been compensated. No FIR has yet been registered yet. The team has also requested the Sheetla Singh Investigation Commission (constituted by the Press Council of India) to visit the area.
Rihai Manch learnt during its visit that on 24th and 26th October, late in the evening, thousands of rioters surrounded the Muslim settlement in Bhadarsa, shouting provocative slogans, and carried out acts of loot and arson. The burning of more than a hundred houses has been verified. The attack was so well-planned in advance, that the rioters had carried petrol bombs to set fire to Muslim homes. The fact-finding team was informed by local residents in hushed whispers that prior to the riots, officials and the police had ordered the four ration-shop owners of Bhadarsa to deliver kerosene in large quantities to the police station. Meanwhile, local media was publicising the claim of leaders like Vinay Katiyar that five litres of kerosene had been distributed to each Muslim home. That the police are treating this claim as fact, is evident from their arresting only Muslims so far. The question that arises is that if in fact large numbers of Muslims were active in the riots, why is it only Muslim houses that have been burnt. The fact-finding team verified from the actual sites, that in order to ensure the complete burning of Muslim houses, their mattresses and clothes were also used to stoke the flames. The fact-finding team found that during the entire event, the Provincial Armed Constabulary remained silent spectators, mutely aiding the rioters by their inaction. After the event, when the victims of the violence tried to file FIR’s, they were driven away, and informed that FIR’s would be filed only if the accusations against the administration were removed from them.
The investigation team discovered that on the cue of the local administration, Patiram, the village head of Fatehpur, pressured the nearby people to remove the evidence of attacks, arsoning and the debris of the houses of Muslims which were completely torched. The Rihai team also found that Rajesh Kumar, the local Lekhpal, was involved in gross irregularities in the process of determining compensation for the victims. People who lost properties worth lakhs in the violence were given meagre financial relief of only a few thousand rupees. If that was not bad enough, the poor, widows, and the homeless among the affected were not even considered for any compensation. Extending his apathy to the victims of communal violence, the Lekhpal also went on to add that they should have had taken better care of their properties to avoid such loss. Just like Faizabad, the relief team were deliberately discouraged from reaching the spot on time by a fire brigade team, a police jeep and a bus of the state transport department. What confirms the violence as a conspiracy is that the best fire brigades didn’t reach the spot of the violence in the first place and those which made it, surprisingly didn’t have water! Further, the failure on the part of the paramilitary forces and top police officials to reach Bhadarsa on time also puts the role of the administration under suspicion, especially when Bhadarsa is only 17 kms away from the Faizabad police headquarters. The investigation team also raised the question that how come the violence suddenly increased magnanimously on 26 October when there was a day’s peace after 24 October’s violence and the state machinery had ample amount of time to recollect and alert itself?
The Rihai Manch team found the following people involved in the targeted-communal violence against Muslims: Rambodh Soni (Former Chirman, Bhadarsa and BJP politician), Bhola Master, Dayalu (President, Vyapar Mandal), Virendra Halwayi, Jagdamba Prasad, Surendra Maurya, Gopinath aka Guppi (Gram Pradhan, Naikapur), Babulal Yadav (Gram Pradhan), with his two sons and thousands of people hailing from Keshavpur, Rajepur, Banaiyapur, Kewhatia, Nimolia, Lalpur etc. The cruel fine of Rs. 75,000 on the 75 year old Haji Iftekhar, accused by the police on murder charges, is enough to fathom the depth of the communalisation of the police department. The accused, by the way, suffers with paralysis and can’t even do his daily chores. Moreover, the workers and labourers, whose own houses were put to fire in the violence, were brutally thrashed by the police with rifle butts. Women were subjected to the indecency of the police, while their sons were illegally detained. Even Aquib, a 14 year old, was detained.
Based on these findings, the Rihai Manch has demanded that the Sheetla Singh Commission, formed by the Press Council of India, takes action against the local media for their inaccurate/biased reportage during the fortnight following the violence. It also demanded that the commission visit the affected areas to assuage the fears of the people who are still finding it difficult to get of of their homes. The Rihai Manch alleged that the names of the Hindu accused involved in communal violence are not being published in the newspapers, while names of a few Muslim accused are being published repeatedly by the media to create an environment of hostility against the community.
The investigative team comprised of Maseehuddin Sanjari, Ghulam Rasool, Sharfuddin, Muhammad Haroon, Rajeev Yadav, Anuj Shukla, Shahalam, Afaq Ahmed and Shahnawaz Alam.
Rajeev Yadav and Shahnawaz Alam
(Translated from Hindi by Kafila readers.)