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Vidya Subramaniam, The Hindu / MORADABAD, August 14, 2011.
A young boy stands inside one of the house which was ransacked and later burnt down by mobs during the communal riots in Moradabad on Tuesday. This here is the scene on Friday. Photo: S. Subramanium - The Hindu.
Latest violence seen as a continuation of last month's clashes at Arahlatnagar Bagah village.
A semblance of quiet has returned to Moradabad but only just so. Though curfew has been relaxed, the riots of the past week have left their imprint on the town and its residents. Violence is all-present – not just in the physical shape of looted and burnt houses and establishments but in the bristling anger that erupts only too easily when Hindus and Muslims come face to face.
There are only two Muslim houses on the inside lane leading out from the Asha Masjid on Jayantipur Road. On the night of August 9, mobs carrying firearms vandalised one and set it aflame. They then smashed the glass front of the second house, leaving Nazia, its owner and only occupant at the time, cowering in fright all night.
The mob attack followed two days of violent Hindu-Muslim clashes over attempts by the Kawariya pilgrims to take their procession through the Muslim neighbourhood of Rahmat Nagar. On August 7, the Kawariyas were lathicharged and beaten back by the police. However, the commotion brought the Muslims out of their homes and a fierce fight broke out between the two communities, resulting in a night-long exchange of fire, arson and looting. The rioters hurled brickbats at the police and damaged their vehicles. It did not help that the Kawariyas had the backing of the Shiv Sena-led Sarvadaliya Hindu Mahasabha (SHM).
On the morning of August 9, the SHM and its supporters held a meeting at the Dus Saraiya Shiv Mandir where they urged the Kawariyas to resume their procession through the prohibited route. The participants congregated at the spot carrying saffron flags and shouting provocative slogans. As the local daily Amar Ujala reported, “It was like a shakti pradarshan [show of strength] and yet the police did not take it seriously…They were all there under the SHM banner — the Shiv Sena, the Bajrang Dal, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Yuva Manch. The question arises: why did the police allow the meeting in the first place knowing how volatile the situation was?”
The war-like slogans and the aggressive speeches inevitably set the stage for a fresh and more severe spell of rioting. As Muslims broke their Ramzan fast and began to gather for namaaz, a swirl of rumours hit the community, among them that a mosque had been set afire. Muslims led by community hotheads poured into the streets. The Hindu mobs followed. The police account of what happened after this is that the two sides fought pitched battles through the night with the darkness making it difficult to differentiate between the aggressor and the victim. District Magistrate Sameer Verma was non-committal about the role of the Shiv Sena. Nor would he say if any Shiv Sainiks had been arrested.
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