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The communal history of Mau-like Godhra, Mau is a place known for Muslim fanaticism

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Author of the book “Gujarat Riots: The True Story” which gives all the details about the 2002 Gujarat riots - Godhra and thereafter.

On 23 May 2020, OpIndia reported that “A complaint has been filed against 19 members of the Muslim community kept in quarantine in Uttar Pradesh’s Mau for threatening ASHA workers with death after the latter advised them to follow quarantine norms.”

While some Muslim youth were supposed to remain inside a quarantine centre for 14 days, many of them flouted the quarantine restrictions and were seen outside the facility playing cricket. When the ASHA workers in the area tried to convince the youths to remain inside the quarantine facility lest they possibly infect others, the quarantined members of the Muslim community started dishing out threats to the ASHA workers. ASHA worker Sharda Devi filed a complaint in this regard after which CHC Superintendent Dr AP Singh filed a complaint against 19 quarantined members at the Muhammadabad police station.

This is nothing surprising. Godhra (its twin city of Dahod is the birth place of the fanatical Mughal emperor Aurangazeb) town in Gujarat is a place known for fanaticism of Muslims since 1927 at least. Even Mahatma Gandhi had written on Muslim communalism in Godhra in Young India dated 11 October 1928, recorded in his Collected Works, Volume 43, pages 81-82. Mau in Uttar Pradesh similarly saw major communal violence at least twice in the 21st century (assuming the year 2000 is considered as a part of the 21st, not the 20th century) itself. According to an extremely biased report by die-hard Leftists and Islamists (Vibhuti Narain Rai, Rooprekha Verma, Nasiruddin Haider Khan) which was published by Teesta Setalvad’s Sabrang, ‘Mau saw riots in 1969, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1990 and 2000, and in 1984 during riots even an officer of district administration had lost his life.’

7 October 2000 was the first occasion in the 21st century, when a BJP-led coalition Government (BJP was not having a full majority, needed support of other NDA allies) was ruling Uttar Pradesh, with Ramprakash Gupta as Chief Minister (Rajnath Singh became Chief Minister a few days later on 28 October 2000). The Times of India reported on 19 October 2005, in an article written by a Muslim Pervez Iqbal Siddique, that:

“This is not for the first time that communal flare-up spelt doom for the peace loving population of Mau…In the year 2000, there was a similar outbreak of violence…In 2000, it was around the same time-October 7-that violence broke out in Mau. A stray incident of stone throwing on a procession of Durga Puja passing through predominantly Muslim areas of Mirza Hajipur and Katra, sparked the trouble. One person was stabbed to death and dozens of others were injured. Property worth thousands was gutted following incidents of arson and curfew had to be imposed to control the situation….(The then UP State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hukum) Singh informed the (UP) House that two persons had been arrested and that the police were looking for the man responsible for throwing stones at the Durga idols procession…He is untraceable till date (19 October 2005).”

Thus, under a BJP-led Government too Muslims of Mau attacked a Durga Puja procession. The Muslim fanaticism in the Mau riots of October 2005 was not highlighted by the media much, though the inactive role of the UP Government for the first few days was. In 2005, Mulayam Singh Yadav was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, and the UPA Government was ruling at the Centre (which had Muslim League as an ally with a place in the Union Ministry, and TMMK as a state-level ally in Tamil Nadu). Weekly Organiser gave two reports on the riots of 2005. The first, by Sandhya Jain in Organiser dated 30 October 2005 said:

Mau: Riot of Muslim intolerance,
By Sandhya Jain

The unexpected outbreak of organised communal rioting in the Mau district of Uttar Pradesh, leaving 12 dead [final figure was 20 dead] and several dozens injured in over four days of uncontrolled violence, despite the organisers of the Bharat Milap procession cancelling the October 13 show in the interest of social harmony, indicates a cultural intolerance that does not bode well for India. Political parties would do well to consider if this is part of a concerted strategy to enhance the growth of minority conclaves in India by driving out native populations through the systematic use of terror, a weapon used in Assam, Kashmir and other States…

So slow was the UP government to respond to the riots that dozens of residents fled to adjoining districts of Ghazipur, Gorakhpur and Azamgarh in apprehension of fresh violence. Hundreds are seeking security in numbers by clustering together in makeshift shelters in fields and near railway lines, preferring the open spaces to their homes in the old congested bylanes of the town.

It is said that violence began when Muslims observing Roza protested at loudspeakers playing Hindu devotional songs on the occasion of Bharat Milap. This cultural intolerance that is regularly displayed on the occasion of Hindu festivals, even as Muslims spill over on to public roads and footpaths for the Friday namaaz, needs to be confronted…Clearly the Muslims of Mau wanted, through a display of extreme bigotry, to force Hindus to not celebrate auspicious dharmic functions and surrender their community identity for the sake of a false communal harmony….

… The courts must also consider, when riot-related cases come before them, why a local Muslim MLA was allowed to prevent police action against rioters for four whole days, before media coverage compelled action.

Shops and establishments were looted with impunity, and a Dalit colony attacked in the early hours of the morning and jhuggies set on fire, which clearly indicates premeditated action on the part of the assailant group. A temple was set on fire in the Kamaria locality, and we need to have a public debate on whether modern India is willing to countenance once again the medieval-style iconoclasm and vandalism of its holy places.

Residents fled to adjoining districts of Ghazipur, Gorakhpur and Azamgarh in apprehension of fresh violence.

Local independent MLA Mukhtar Ansari, who was finally booked for inciting the riots, shamelessly blamed the Hindu Mahasabha for tension in the city, even though police officials told the media that it was he who prevented them from taking firm action to bring the riots under control in a timely manner. Ansari, who has 36 criminal cases and a TADA conviction against him, moved about the city in an open Gypsy van, accompanied by armed henchmen, despite curfew and shoot-at-sight orders. Naturally, the mobs owing allegiance to him had a field day…”

In the next issue of Organiser dated 6 November 2005, Pramod Kumar gave a detailed report from the place itself. That report said:

Special Investigation
Mau burnt as Mulayam fiddled

Unprovoked, organised Muslim vandalism against numerically weak Hindus
By Pramod Kumar from Mau

‘It deeply hurt me when I saw my neighbour, Shuakat Ali, in the mob attacking my house. We had family relations with Shaukat and during the last more than two decades we shared all happiness and sorrow as good neighbours and true friends. His children always played with my children at our house, studied in the same school and even go for tuition to the same tutor. But, in a matter of seconds, he forgot the two-decade-old relationship and did not hesitate to ruin my family and that too without any reason. Though, I suffered a loss of lakhs of rupees in this attack, I fortunately managed to save my children’, thus narrated Shrikant Goswami of Rauza Mohalla in Mau his experience on that fateful day, tears rolling down his cheeks. After a brief silence, he further added, ‘After this incident I fear for my children. They will no longer be able to live in Mau, if such a state of affairs continues.’

This is the story of most of the Hindus in Mau, which has still been burning in the fire of riots since October 13. Hindus are so scared in this city, which was previously known as Maunath Bhanjan, that they cannot even think of retaliation. Reason, the acute demographic imbalance. In old Mau city, where the riots broke out, Muslims constitute over 90 per cent of the population and Hindus are hardly 10 per cent and that too scattered. Over all in the Mau district, Muslims claim 60 per cent and Hindus 40 per cent of the population. In this riot, the 99 per cent of the victims are Hindus. If any Muslim suffered, it was due to the action of security forces against the rioters. The administration claims 14 people are dead…

However, the actual number of the dead and loss of property will be confirmed only after the curfew is lifted. Officials also admit that they have received various innumerable complains of missing people.

People of the region are scared. It took me over 24 hours to reach Mau from Varanasi as all trains and road transport were banned and no private vehicle owner was ready to go there at any cost. I somehow managed to reach there via Ghazipur at 7.15 am on October 25. When I reached the curfew-bound areas along with a local journalist, the people candidly said, ‘Sir, it was a direct action against Hindus. The rioters burnt the shops and attacked the houses of Hindus alone. At certain points the rioters fired with AK 47 rifles.’ When usually a mob sets shops on fire, it does not discriminate. But in Mau, the shops were carefully selected before setting them on fire. There is a Sindhi colony which the rioters have completely destroyed and the Sindhis had to seek shelter at Madhav Hotel, near the railway station. ‘We have been totally ruined. All our businesses have been gutted. We could not even save the dignity of our women,’ said a Sindhi victim, but refused to disclose his name fearing more attacks from the rioters.

Construction of a mosque at the ground, where the function of Bharat Milap is held every year during Ramlila, is said to be the root cause of permanent tension in the city. There was a major riot in 1984, which claimed heavy causalities. Again, in 1994 the riots erupted with less causalities. After long deliberations, the Allahabad High Court had ruled that the local administration will take over the mosque/madrasa 12 hours before the Bharat Milap function, which is a major cultural event every year. After the overnight cultural activities, the main function of Bharat-Milap is held early in the morning. It is with a consensus between both the communities that the platform of the Bharat Milap is erected near the gate of the mosque. In turn the Muslims are allowed to rest their tazia on the stairs of the Sanskrit Pathshala, about 100 metres from the Shahi mosque, during Moharram every year.

‘What went wrong this year is that the local police did not take over the mosque/madrasa before the stipulated time and even before the function of Bharat Milap could begin some talibs from madrasa broke the wire of the loudspeaker. After some time the riots broke out and the function had to be postponed till October 29. If the function had not been postponed at that time, there could have been more causality among the Hindus as the rioters were armed with sophisticated weapons. When the workers of the Ramlila committee that organises the function, protested against the mischief of the Muslims, they became violent,’ said Prof. Ramji Singh, BJP MLC, while talking to Organiser.

The violence continued for three days without any action from the local administration. The rioters were killing innocent Hindus and burning their property in the old city, the heavy police forces were conducting flag-march on the Highway, outside the city. People believe that it was deliberately done to prevent the Hindus from the adjoining villages to come for rescue,’ said Shri B.N. Singh, senior advocate of Mau.

On October 14, the rioters crossed all limits when a mob of over 1,000 miscreants attacked the Mau railway station. They attacked the innocent passengers of Balia-Shahganj passenger train in which over 36 passengers were seriously injured. When the rioters tried to burn the train, the Railway Police Force (RPF) resorted to firing in which a Muslim rioter, Mehatab, was killed. It was only after the firing that the rioters started running away. People say another Godhra-like incident was averted on that day.

Certain incidents indicate that the riots were pre-planned and the administration was aware of the planning. On October 3, some Muslim goons destroyed the idols at Dhekulia Ghat temple where Hindus go for pitruvisarjan on the last day of Pitrapaksh. When the Hindus protested, the administration gave them an assurance that the culprits would be nabbed within two or three days. But nothing of the sort happened so far. Again on October 9, a Muslim mob attacked the Durgapooja pandal in Sadar Chauk, where even the additional SP was injured. Despite that the police and administration remained silent. Even after so much tension, the police did not take over the Shahi mosque/madrasa on October 13 as is customarily done before the Bharat-Milap function.

I visited the entire curfew-bound area. People said outsiders were also included in the mob of rioters. It is alleged that they were all Mukhtar Ansari’s men. People wanted to send their children and women to safer places as there had been repeated attacks by Muslims even under the curfew. They seemed least surprised at the continued attack by miscreants even during the curfew, as they knew of the silent support of the State government. The local administration is under the control of none other than the dreaded criminal and independent MLA, Mukhtar Ansari… Here it is worth mentioning that Ansari has also been misusing the Mau Rest House as his personal office ever since he became an MLA. His elder brother, Afzal Ansari is the Samajwadi Party MP from Ghazipur, 35 km from Mau…
The question that haunts everybody is that who provided the AK-47s and other sophisticated arms to the rioters. The Mau riots appear just a beginning of a larger disaster…

Conspiracy to finish Hindus from eastern region
-Prof. Ramji Singh

Prof. Ramji Singh, BJP MLC, while terming the Mau riots as a massacre of Hindus, said the local MLA, Mukhtar Ansari wanted to finish Hindus from the whole eastern region…Terming the enquiry committee, constituted under Smt. Neera Yadav, as ‘meaningless’, he demanded immediate release of those innocent Hindus who were arrested to appease Muslims during the riots….

Preplanned conspiracy of Samajwadi Party
Sudha Rai, President, State Mahila Congress

Smt. Sudha Rai, wife of former Union Minister, Kalpnath Rai, said the Mau riots were a preplanned conspiracy of local Samajwadi Party leaders who did it for grabbing Muslim votes in the coming municipality elections in Mau. ‘Even after four days of the riots the local administration and the government were missing. The local SP leaders are providing patronage to the rioters. The statement of Mukhtar Ansari after his so-called surrender in Ghazipur on October 25, that he can go to jail many times for Mulayam Singhji, must be taken seriously,’ she said while talking to Organiser in a telephonic interview. ‘It shows the failure of the State government and the local administration as the rioters ruined the city and killed dozens of innocent people. The city continued to burn but the officials failed to do anything,’ she said…”

Let see a report by a CPM team here. A CPI(M) delegation consisting of Premnath Rai (State Sect. Member), Ram Kripal (MLA) and Subhashini Ali visited Mau on the 30th October 2005 when curfew was lifted in the entire town for the first time. The report said:

“…On the 14th (October 2005) morning at about 8.00 a.m., however, the local unit of the Hindu Yuva Vahini sat on dharna in front of the adjacent police chowki, protesting against interference in their religious observances. The local police did precisely nothing and soon large crowds collected and verbal altercations were followed by stone-throwing. And then Ajit Singh Chandel of the HYV allegedly starting firing injuring 3-4 Muslim youths. This news spread like wildfire and in the nearby Rauza and Sindhi Colony area, shops and buildings belonging to Hindus were set on fire. A large printing press, several cloth shops etc were burnt. The policemen standing here ran away. The administration remained paralysed for several hours before curfew was finally imposed but by then there had been several incidents of arson and looting.

Soon after the imposition of curfew, Mukhtar Ansari made a public appearance in Mau aboard an open jeep. It has been reported that the local administration requested him to come to help them restore peace. In any case, his moving around openly after curfew had been imposed was an extremely provocative and unjustifiable act and, if the administration had in fact asked him to come, this only proves their total incompetence and criminal ineptness. The road turning off the Highway has many small shops and tenements inhabited by Yadavs.

We visited this area and met many people here. Ashok Gupta’s house is in front of the Simla unit and, in fact, he and his family helped the Simla family rescue their workers and salvage some of their belongings and then, they themselves, had to face arson and loot. Many of the poor Yadav families also met us. All their shops and tenements had been completely destroyed and everything they possessed had been burnt to ashes. They claimed that the crowd that was watching the Simla unit being torched was greatly provoked by Mukhtar Ansari’s arrival here and they followed his vehicle and were then responsible for the losses they suffered. In the middle of this road is the neem tree under which one Ram Pratap Yadav – a poor man who had come from his village a kilometer away to Mau for some work and to make some purchases – was shot dead. The people we talked to said that at the time that he was killed, they were running away for their lives or trying to save their families or some of their possessions and so they did not see who shot him but that the shot was fired by someone around the MLA. When we asked them if any of the Simla family were there at that time they said that did not see any of them and in any case they were busy saving themselves at the time.

In the afternoon of the same day (14 October), there was a mob attack on the railway station where a train was waiting and it was only because the few GRP personnel present reacted and fired into the mob that a major calamity was averted. (Accepts that another Godhra would have happened, had it not been for police firing.) There are two mosques near the station and one of them has suffered some damage and 2 people were killed in this incident. After this, all trains running to and from Mau were stopped for two weeks….”

Though this report is extremely biased, it is by the biggest political and ideological enemy of the BJP, namely the CPI(M), it needlessly brings in Hindu Yuva Vahini somehow, it does report the attacks on killings of Hindus in Mau, and their shops and buildings being set on fire by Muslims. It accepts that there could have been another Godhra had it not been for firing on a Muslim crowd attacking a railway station.

The above facts of Mau must never be allowed to be forgotten. It was of course, a travesty of justice that not a single person was convicted by the trial court, and all 32 accused, including MLA Mukhtar Ansari were acquitted on 15 September 2006. A total of 20 were killed in these Mau riots, according to that PTI report.

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Author of the book “Gujarat Riots: The True Story” which gives all the details about the 2002 Gujarat riots - Godhra and thereafter.
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