Once again, the communal cauldron in Uttar Pradesh is on the boil. It’s an old story: the state has been polarised by the identity politics that marked Indian politics in the late eighties and through the nineties, the demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, being a shocking inflection point. In fact, it was the build-up to the demolition that catapulted both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Samajwadi Party to the forefront, marginalising the Congress, which had ruled the state for four long decades.
The BJP grew on the strength of Hindutva politics. The Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav, too, was not slow to realise the increasing influence of religion on voters. Though his initial rise in Uttar Pradesh can be attributed to the need for change—breaking the shackles of a prolonged and discredited Congress raj—it was the support of the Muslim vote that took him to new heights.
Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Mulayam is all set to play his Muslim card—even if that means setting up an excellent opportunity for the BJP to exaggerate the emotive spirit of Hindutva. Recent events in the state—the Dalit-Muslim fights and the recent Jat-Muslim rioting—are reinforcing the perception that what the BJP and the Samajwadi Party are doing is consolidating their votebanks.
While pollsters are predicting a hung Parliament, Mulayam sees it as one big, and perhaps, the last opportunity to fulfil his long-cherished dream of being the prime minister. And he knows it isn’t possible without the blanket support of the state’s 21 per cent Muslim population. It is also important for him to keep Rampur MLA Azam Khan on his side. A sulking Khan chose to keep himself out of the party’s national executive meet in Agra, and the mixed signals are only muddying the already charged climate of the state.
After all, faced with caste- and religion-oriented voting, Muslim votes alone can help the Samajwadi Party win around half of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 parliamentary seats, thereby enabling Mulayam to bargain for the top position in a Third Front scenario. This dream, however, could remain elusive if Muslims are weaned away by the Congress, whose political fortunes are also heavily dependent on the support of Muslims. Mulayam’s desperation to be prime minister is showing: all the talk is about the old wrestler fixing ‘noora kushti’ matches with sworn rivals of the past from the saffron brigade, such as Ashok Singhal of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. (Remember his brief, stillborn dalliance with Kalyan Singh?) And the BJP’s interest in allowing Mulayam to consolidate the Muslim vote stems from the fact that this will take away Muslim votes from the Congress, weakening it in the race for New Delhi.
This posturing was recently exposed when battle-lines were apparently drawn between the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Samajwadi Party on the chaurasi kosi parikrama around Ayodhya organised August 25 onwards, a march the VHP neither had the intention nor the capability to undertake. The Samajwadi Party, which banned the march, was actually keen to see the Sangh parivar push the plan aggressively. Wry observers were quick to call it a case of match-fixing: in fact, Mulayam, his chief minister son Akhilesh and VHP chief Singhal had remained closeted for two hours before the call for the parikrama and the ban.
While Uttar Pradesh has witnessed more than 30 major and minor incidents of communal violence since Akhilesh assumed power in March 2012, the latest—which began in Muzaffarnagar district but spread to Saharanpur, Meerut, Baghpat and Shamli districts—has attained serious proportions. The official toll is 38, but some 50 are claimed to have died in no more than two days. Mulayam had no qualms about praising his son for “controlling the situation in just two days”.
And before the new incumbents could get hold of their bearings, the Jats rose up in arms to convene a ‘mahapanchayat’ in protest on August 31. This failed to draw large crowds. Therefore, another call was given for a bigger show of strength on September 7. Other than clamping Section 144 of the CrPC, which bars assembly of four or more than four persons in any public place, the state administration did nothing to douse the embers. In fact, no effort was made to prevent the assembly of thousands of people at the venue. The BJP found this an ideal occasion to start projecting itself as being with the Jats. A huge band of BJP leaders, led by veteran Hukum Singh, a Jat himself, converged at the event. “Statements issued by local authorities explicitly said that there was no restriction on anyone attending the mahapanchayat. None of the police officials at pickets en route to the venue stopped me or even cared to question me while I was on my way to the panchayat,” Hukum Singh told Outlook, after being charged with violating the ban orders.
It was rather late in the day, after some 36 innocent human lives were lost and the communal virus had spread to four other neighbouring districts, that the government woke up from its complacence. A major shake-up was carried out in the police administration of the affected districts and licences of nearly 1,900 firearm owners were cancelled. A crackdown led to 700 arrests overnight, whereas less than 200 arrests were made in the 12 preceding days.
While blaming all the violence on the BJP, the chief minister said, “A minor scuffle between a few individuals has been blown up into a riot simply because it is being fuelled by BJP leaders. These small incidents are being used to serve the communal ends of political parties like the BJP, which have nothing else to bank upon at a time when general elections are not far away. The BJP has used this incident to communalise the atmosphere so that it could win the votes of Jats in the region.”
Akhilesh also sought to pass the buck to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), whose leaders Swami Prasad Maurya and Naseemuddin Siddiqui sought dismissal of the Akhilesh government on account of what they termed as “complete breakdown of law and order”. Maurya and Siddiqui also urged state governor B.L. Joshi to recommend imposition of President’s rule in the state. That hasn’t happened so far.
Meanwhile, in his report sent to the Union government, the governor has squarely blamed the Akhilesh government. According to a highly placed source, “the governor has said the state government failed to take stern and timely action when the issue was simply limited to an isolated incident of eve-teasing.” The governor’s report is learnt to have also said that “the large-scale violence could have been avoided”. This is damning to the Akhilesh government.
However, political analysts were of the view that the governor’s report too was aimed at serving the Congress party’s interest by keeping Mulayam on tenterhooks, particularly since the Congress has begun to view the Samajwadi Party as a major threat to its own designs on the Muslim vote.
>> # 11.
I agree with you. We need two secular parties, one to the left of center and one to the right of center. Dynastic rule and affiliation with the RSS are equally inimical to the health of our democracy.
>>Communal riots have now made big inroads into rural India.
I am not sure how immune rural India was to communal violence but I would take TOI reporting with a pinch of salt. They are kind of like CNN of India; occasionally good reporting but mostly fluff.
Both these communities are so deeply intertwined (socially, economically and culturally) throughout the subcontinent.
Experiment of clean partition is also teetering on failure; starting with Iskandar Mirza's Martial Law and culminating with creation of Bangladesh and Pakistan detour towards extremism reflected by the rise of Hindutva in India. Although, as Mamood Mamook has mentioned several times, neither are keen to jump on the bandwagon called India.
I am not sure there is clear easy way out of this mess besides India gradually settling on US-style Congress/Left/Socialists on one side and BJP/Right/Conservatives on the other side politics and much more effective judiciary that upholds the constitution and delievers timely justice. Given the pervasive rot of corruption in legislative, executive and judiciary branches of the government as well as media and military, it is a lofty goal.
There are lot of opportunities for mischief along the way.
How the SP party along with its local politician, caused the riot.
"But more significantly, within two hours of the incident, the District Magistrate (DM) Surendra Singh of the 2005 batch of the IPS along with SSP Manzil Saini, another young and dynamic IPS officer, were transferred. If you think the transfer was an administrative rap on the knuckles for non-performance in a crisis, think again — former Rajya Sabha MP and Muzaffarnagar resident Amir Alam Khan not only called Singh a “communal” officer, but also admitted to Firstpost that he had himself repeatedly written to the chief minister seeking the DM’s transfer. To put it simply, Amir Alam Khan did to Surendra Singh and Manzil Saini what Samajwadi Party leader Narendra Bhati did to Durga Shakti Nagpal in Greater Noida. According to locals, Surendra Singh had refused to toe the line of the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP). Known to be a good, honest officer, he had come down hard on his own administration for corruption and had even started a massive campaign against encroachments and illegal constructions. This kind of administration had never been witnessed earlier in Muzaffarnagar, and Surendra Singh was immensely popular for it. But even as he earned kudos from the public, SP politicians were gunning for him. They used his caste (Surendra Singh is Jat) to plan his ouster. “Surendra Singh is communal. He should have been removed much earlier. In fact, it is he who instigated an attack on Muslims to take revenge for his ouster,’’ claimed Amir Alam Khan to Firstpost. Khan expects to be the SP candidate from the Bijnor Lok Sabha constituency in 2014........."
Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/politics/how-sp-bjp-bsp-politicians-gave-their-blessings-as-muzaffarnagar-burned-1110023.html/1?utm_source=ref_article
Its not hard to find out the people responsible for the Muzaffar Nagar riots. But they will never be identified or prosecuted because dishonesty , including on part of the media , is the norm in India.
After the incident in which 3 people were killed on Aug 27th , who engineered the transfer of police officials and why ? If an independent commission investigates, they can easily find it out.
"On 28 August, Muzaffarnagar’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Manjil Saini was inexplicably shunted out. His replacement, SC Dubey, arrived in style in a helicopter along with UP Additional Director-General of Police (ADG) Arun Kumar, who is in charge of law and order. Obviously, the new man in could hardly get a feel of the ground before violence erupted on 7 September after the Jat assembly.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Dubey, too, was replaced five days after taking over."
why did not the DM and Police arrest the BSP MP , SP MLA, Congress MLA who publicly delivered a most communal speech threatening that if Maha-Panchayat was held "not a single child would escape alive" In fact the SP of police and DM seem to be party to the communal anti-Hindu rally held. Watch what sitting MP pf LOkSabha, Qadir Rana of BSP says and provide me a link to a more communal speech delivered by any elected representative in India.
investigate who ( Azam Khan, Bill Clinton , Akhilesh ) who were presuring the police to register cases ( false cases which have now being with-drawn ) against HIndu jats of the family that had lost two lives while not identifying anyone for the murder of Rajest and Sachin.
Its those events and the police not arresting anyone for the murder of Gaurav and Sachin that contributed to the anger in Hindu community. Rest is history.
The Congress, opportunist and criminally complicit in communalism, is least intesterested in investigating SP or Mulayam because it depends on SP support at the centre. The SP will be busy registering cases against BJP politicians to protect its muslim vote.
So no justice will be done. Anger will continue to build on both sides because there are genuine grieviences and injustice. The police and UP administration ( as evident in the Durga Shakti case ) will remain partisan and communal and perceived so by the majority community.
The MuzaffarNagar riots will be forgotten by the time same mix of political opportunism and criminally complicit communal administration , lead to the next riot. The next civil wars will be made possible courtesy the same politicians who engineered the MUzaffar Nagar riots, but on a larger scale , as no corrective action will be taken.
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