Bihar: Muslims feel anxious after violence during Mahavir Akhara rally

Rizwan Ahmad’s grocery shop burnt down by Hindutva mob

Rizwan Ahmed is yet to visit his charred grocery shop located in Barhariya’s Purani Bazaar— a Muslim-dominated locality in Bihar’s Siwan district. His shop was burnt by the Hindu mob on Thursday during the Mahavir Akhara rally.

Hundreds of armed Hindu men were caught on camera shouting Islamophobic slogans and playing obscene songs. The provocation led to a confrontation between the two groups. However, Muslims in the region suffered disproportionately.

Ahmed’s shop was burnt by the mob as police stood beside them as mute spectators, according to the visuals accessed by Maktoob.

“It was our only source of income,” says Ahmad.

“We recently stocked up the goods of around 50 to 55 thousand Rupees on debt and some money was also there in the shop. We have suffered a heavy loss.”

“On Thursday around 5 pm, there was a conflict between two groups. The police tried to control the situation but were unable to do so as the mob was very large in number. After that, the aggressive Hindu mob started burning my shop.”

“We are still not allowed to visit our burnt shops because of imposition of section 144 in our area,” Ahmad told Maktoob. He also fears that he will be arrested after several Muslims were “randomly” arrested by local police.

Muslim kid remains in jail

The Siwan Police have lodged a First Information Report against 35 people – 25 Muslims and 10 Hindus and arrested 20 people in connection with the incident. Police arrested Muslim men gathered for evening prayer from a local mosque, including an eight-year-old boy and his 70-year-old grandfather.

Police arrested Mohammad Yasin and his eight-year-old grandson, while their family maintains that both are innocent. Yasin had recently undergone two surgery and had other health ailments.

Even after 48 hours, Qureshi remains in jail while the family alleges that police have demanded money for his release.

The FIR accessed by Maktoob book them under Indian Penal Code sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with a deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 188 (disobedience to order), 296 (disturbing religious assembly), 337 (causing hurt), 338 (causing grievous hurt), 435 (mischief with the intent of damage), 427 (mischief with substance), 505 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 307 (attempt to murder), 353 (assault, use of criminal force) and section 120B (party to criminal conspiracy).

Mohd Armaan, a 23-year-old boy residing in Barhariya, whose house was vandalised by the mob told Maktoob, “the aggressive Hindu mob entered my house abusing and shouting and smacked the door, broke the electric meter with their sticks, then kicked my bike.”

Mohd Armaan also mentioned how the mob had tried to attack a boy with stones and abused him after finding out that he was recording their crimes on his phone.

“The Hindu mob always used to match through the route which starts from a Muslim dominated area, Pashchim Tola (Near Purani Bazaar) and joins with Hardiya Mela at the end. The mob started their rally on this route on Thursday chanting Islamophobic slogans and playing provocative songs,” Tausif, a resident of Barhariya, told Maktoob.

His house was also vandalised by the mob. He claimed that he has seen these conflicts between Hindus and Muslims since his childhood and there was always a police force present at that spot.

“They were crossing the mosque at Purani Bazaar around the time when the Muslim men were offering Asr prayer inside the mosque. They intentionally tried to enter the mosque to create a nuisance but were stopped by some men which resulted in conflict between the two parties.

Police lathi-charged to disperse the crowd.

“Muslim men backed off and returned back to their homes but the Hindu Mob was uncontrollable by the police force. The mob started burning houses and shops and pelting stones on Muslim houses.” Tausif added.