Meer Faisal and Sana Akbar
Muslim leaders have alleged that in the recent outbreak of violence in Shastri Nagar, Jamshedpur, the Jharkhand police targeted Muslims. According to them, the police allegedly raided a mosque, caused damage to the structure, and desecrated the holy Qur’an.
On Sunday night, a violence unleashed by Hindu right wing groups in Jamshedpur following a dispute that began during the lowering of the Mahaviri flag at the Jatadhari Hanuman temple in Shastri Nagar Block No. 3 on Saturday. Tension had been mounting in the area since some people had allegedly wrapped a piece of flesh in a polythene bag around the bamboo of the Hindu religious flag. After this incident, a group of Hindus protested and demanded that the police arrest the suspect within 24 hours. The administration managed to control the situation, and it seemed that the issue had been resolved.
However, on Sunday night, members of the Hindutva Organization allegedly started throwing stones at the mosque and houses belonging to the Muslim community, causing the situation to escalate. By nightfall, several shops had been set on fire, and both sides were hurling bricks and stones at each other. An auto rickshaw was also set ablaze.
Kashif Siddique, a social activist said to Maktoob that on Saturday, a group of Hindus protested after finding chicken flesh fragments on the bamboo of the flag. The police managed to calm things down. However, on Sunday morning, they resumed their violent protests, with people from groups like Bajrang Dal and Hindu Mahasabha shouting “Jai Shri Ram” and making derogatory remarks towards the Muslim community. They also demanded that the road no. 3 chowk in Shastri Nagar be renamed “Bajrang chowk,” which was resisted by the police and Muslim residents. These individuals planned to gather later that evening at Hanumaan Mandir after facing opposition.
The Hanuman Mandir and the Farooqui mosque are situated close to each other. Police were aware of the gathering, but despite this, they did not mobilize their resources sufficiently to prevent any potential violence. The gathering began to create a disturbance by yelling and insulting the Muslim community, and suddenly stone-pelting began at the mosque and Muslim residences. While this was happening, some assailants started selectively burning shops owned by Muslims.
SSP Prabhat Kumar arrived quickly on the scene with a group of RAF (Rapid Action Force) and used force to disperse the gathering. Lathi charges and tear gas were used to contain the violence, and warning shots were fired into the air. The violence was contained as the crowd dispersed.
Police attacks mosque, imam
Afterwards, the RAF targeted Muslims and properties belonging to Muslims, Siddique alleged. The police went into the Farooqui Mosque and took the Imam and a few other worshippers into custody, claiming they were hurling stones. The mosque was destroyed by the police, who also tore pages from the holy Quran and threw them away. Late at night, they broke into Muslim households and beat up Muslim children under cover of darkness. Many people were detained, including youngsters. Even after the mob dispersed, the police and RAF continued to attack Muslims, citing the excuse that Muslims threw stones to justify their excessive use of cruelty, Siddique and other locals alleged.
The Imam and a few youngsters were later freed in the morning. The police have arrested around 15 persons, and another 20 are still being held at the station. Several Muslim leaders released videos saying that Muslims are being targeted by the police. They said that the police broke into the mosque, destroyed its belongings, beat up worshippers inside, and shouted vulgar insults that were caught on camera.
Several Muslim leaders have released videos claiming that the police have singled out Muslims in the recent violence that erupted in Shastri Nagar, Jamshedpur. They alleged that the police broke into a mosque, vandalized the building, and destroyed the holy Qur’an. In addition, the police reportedly beat up worshippers inside and screamed vulgar insults, which were captured on CCTV footage.
Syed Saifuddin Safar, founder of Tehreek Paigham e Islam, condemned the incident and called on the Chief Minister (CM) to take action. He stated that the citizens of Jharkhand had voted for the CM with great optimism but were now disappointed that Muslims were being treated unfairly.
Qari Saud, Shahar Qazi of Jamshedpur, claimed that the perpetrators of the violence were Hindutva Forces, and he urged the government to identify those responsible and take appropriate action. Maulana Fariduddin Shiwani, Imam of Masjid e Islam, reported that innocent individuals, including elderly people and children, were picked up from the mosque by the police.
Muslim organizations in Jamshedpur have appealed to the public to uphold law and order, and they have urged the CM to ensure justice. The deputy commissioner for Jamshedpur, Vijaya Jadhav, stated that violence broke out due to a few isolated incidents, and she urged people not to accept rumors and to report any such incidents to the authorities.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) for Jamshedpur, Prabhat Kumar, confirmed that the situation was under control and that the army and Rapid Action Force (RAF) had been deployed to the area. Some individuals have been apprehended, and a curfew under Section 144 has been enforced to maintain peace and order.