Two weeks after at least 15 mosques were attacked by Hindutva groups RSS, VHP, and Bajrang Dal across Tripura in week-long violence against Muslims, the Union government on Saturday issued a statement asserting that no mosque has been damaged in Tripura in the recent past and that there were no reports of injury, rape or death in any clash in the state.
“There is no reported case of damage of the structure of any Masjid in Tripura in the recent past. There is no report of simple or grievous injury or rape or death of any person in these incidents as alleged in some social media posts,” reads a statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Union government also claimed news circulating on social media about damage and vandalisation of a mosque in Tripura is fake and complete misrepresentation of facts.
“There have been news reports that have been circulating that a mosque in Kakraban area of Gomati district in Tripura has been damaged and vandalized. These news reports are fake and are a complete misrepresentation of facts. The mosque in Dargabazar area of Kakraban has not been damaged and the Tripura Police in Gomati district is working to maintain peace and tranquillity,” the statement said.
Tripura’s BJP government and state police have been claiming that there was no law and order problem in the state and no mosques were burnt by Hindutva groups despite media including Maktoob reported several anti-Muslim crimes across the northeast state.
Maktoob reported more than two dozen hate crimes against Muslims including mosque vandalisation, attacks against Muslim houses, shops, and hawkers, molesting Muslim women, and anti-Muslim and genocidal slogans during the rallies.
Photos and videos accessed by Maktoob showed violent right-wing mobs who wear saffron clothes and carry swords raising anti-Muslim slogans during protests organised by Hindutva groups.
The home ministry also said that in Maharashtra, there have been reports of violence and unsavoury statements that are aimed at disturbing peace and harmony based on “fake news regarding Tripura”.
“This is very concerning and it is urged that peace is maintained at all costs,” MHA said.
Muslim groups organised protest rallies against anti-Muslim violence in Tripura across Maharashtra, mainly cities of Amravati, Malegaon, and Nanded on Friday. Incidents of stone-pelting by the protesters were also reported.
A bandh was observed in Muslim-dominated areas of Mumbai including Bhendi Bazar, Mohammad Ali Road, Kurla as well as Mumbra and Bhiwandi in Thane. In Amravati city in east Maharashtra, over eight thousand people gathered outside the district collector’s office to submit a memorandum demanding that atrocities against the Muslims should be stopped.
Maharashtra Home minister Dilip Walse-Patil had said in an official note that the protest marches taken out in the state took a violent turn in some places, but the situation was under control. Police officials said, at least 20 FIRs were registered in connection with stone-pelting during rallies held in protest and 20 persons were arrested.
On Saturday- the next day after protests of Muslims held in the state- a Hindutva mob hurled stones and damaged shops at various places in Amravati on Saturday during a bandh organised by a saffron body prompting the police to lathicharge the protesters.
A curfew has been imposed in Amravati city following further incidents of violence.
28 hate crimes against Muslims: Tripura mosque authorities to High Court
At least 15 mosques were attacked by Hindutva groups while two of them were burnt, according to a petition to the Tripura High Court by a mosque committee president states.
“Over a dozen mosques, houses, and shops belonging to Muslims have been vandalised and are still being attacked by Hindutva groups particularly Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Viswa Hindu Parishad, and Bajrang Dal with complete impunity across Tripura in the garb of protests against the recent anti-minority violence in Bangladesh,” read the petition filed by Abdul Khaleque, president of Rowa Jama Masjid in Tripura’s Panisagar region.
The petition accepted by Tripura High Court on 29 October.
At least 28 hate crimes against Muslims were listed in the petition to Chief Justice of Tripura High Court, Indrajit Mahanty.
A day after the petition by the mosque committee president, the Tripura High Court, took suo moto cognizance of the issue of violence against Muslims unleashed by Hindutva groups in Tripura and called upon the BJP government to file multiple affidavits by November 10.
SC lawyers’ report on anti-Muslim violence in Tripura and UAPA against them
“It was a targeted violence against Muslims,” said a group of Supreme Court lawyers who carried out a fact-finding visit to Tripura.
The report released by advocates from the SC and human rights activists Ehtesham Hashmi, Amit Srivastav, Ansar Indori, and Mukesh visited the northeastern state, showed that Hindu nationalist groups Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and Hindu Jagran Manch held violent protests and rallies across Tripura following Bangladesh violence.
During four-day-long violence against Muslims, 12 mosques, nine shops, and three houses belonging to Muslims were targeted, according to the fact-finding team.
The lawyers also visited the Chamtila masjid in the Panisagar region and found that the masjid was vandalised. Tripura police had repeatedly claimed that the Chamtila mosque was not vandalised and the reports are ‘fake.’ ‘The claims of Tripura police are wrong,” said the fact-finding team.
During the rallies, Hindutva mobs raised slogans insulting Prophet Mohammad and the copies of the Holy Quran were burnt by rioters while attacking mosques and Muslim houses, the report found.
The report also talked about the police inaction during and after the violence. Many Muslims tried registering a complaint on violence but the police just sent them back, according to the report.
A day after the report was published in public, UAPA notices were sent to two members of the fact-finding team, lawyers Ansar Indori and Mukesh.
100s under UAPA
Following this, Tripura police arrested four members of a Delhi-based Muslim NGO, Tahreek Farogh e Islam, who carried out a visit to Tripura. All four who were charged under UAPA were sent to 14 days in police custody by Dharmanagar Court.
TFI national president and Muslim scholar Qamar Usmani Ghani, national vice-president Qari Asim, national secretary Ihsanul Haque Rezavi, and a member Roshan are the four members who were charged under the sections of terror law.
Mahmood Pracha, who is the legal advisor of TFI, told Maktoob that they have been arrested because they went to bring out facts related to the anti-Muslim violence and expose the failures of the BJP government in stopping violence carried by the Hindutva groups.
In another complaint filed on 3 November, Tripura police had claimed 102 social media accounts were responsible for spreading “objectionable news items/statements,” and the account holders were charged under draconian UAPA.
The 102 social media account holders (68 Twitter profiles, 32 Facebook profiles, and 2 YouTubers) include Jamaat-e-Islami Hind vice president Mohammad Salim Engineer, former Delhi Minorities Commission chairman Zafarul Islam Khan, Popular Front of India general secretary Anis Ahmed, Students Islamic Organisation of India national president Salman Ahmad and activist Sharjeel Usmani.
The list also includes 5 journalists. The journalists are Maktoob’s Meer Faisal, freelance journalist Sartaj Alam, Newsclick’s senior editor Shyam Meera Singh, freelance journalist Arif Shah and London-based monthly newspaper Byline Times’s global correspondent C.J. Werleman.
Three days ago, Shyam Meera Singh along with two lawyers Mukesh, Ansar Indori- booked under UAPA over fact-finding report on Tripura violence- have moved the Supreme Court for the quashing of the FIR filed against them under the draconian UAPA
The Supreme Court agreed to an early listing of the plea.
International journalist unions like CPJ, several press clubs in the country, and many politicians including key Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi condemned Tripura police actions and urged the BJP government to immediately drop the terror investigation into journalists, activists, and Muslim leaders for their social media posts and fact-finding visits.