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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 24 New Delhi June 6, 2015

Modi’s Assurances and Reality of Ballabhgarh

Saturday 6 June 2015, by Humra Quraishi

MUSINGS

Couldn’t be a better managed stage-show. The BJP’s Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi collects a dozen so-called ‘Muslim leaders’, makes them sit around Prime Minister Modi, and then starts off the highlight of this show—these men coming up with supposedly well-rehearsed lines and the Prime Minister giving those politically apt assurances!

Even the naïve will find it impossible to believe these assurances. Meaningless they sound in the heap of the backgrounders. No, not just in the backdrop of the 2002 Gujarat pogrom but also in the present-day realities. Discriminations and displacements are on, hitting the largest minority community of this country. The very latest was last week’s violent attacks against Muslims living in the Atali village of Ballabhgarh, in Haryana’s district Faribadad. Though this village is barely 20 kilometres from the national Capital, but till date there seems to be no end to the plight of the Muslim families of this village, whose homes and shops and vehicles were torched by militant mobs. Till date these families are sitting in the premises of the police station, scared of moving elsewhere. And the biggest irony is that till date no arrests have been made... though names of the attackers have been mentioned in FIRs but no arrests. Why? Because these attackers are from Right-wing brigades and with that carry State protection! This is the grim reality of the day that the minorities have to face. Needless to elaborate on this.

Let me quote from the report of the Delhi- based social activist, Khadeejah Farooqui, and Professor V.K. Tripathi who visited this village:

“May 25, 2015 was a nightmare for the people of Atali, a village 12 km from Ballabgarh in Faridabad district of Haryana when sectarian violence drove 400 Muslims to the Ballabgarh Police Station for shelter. Muslims comprise 10 per cent of the population with about 600 votes and are mostly landless laborers with some being well off. Hindus comprise all castes. They too are underprivileged; however, a significant number of them have good land holdings and are well placed.

There are seven temples in the village, including a madiya (a tiny one room temple) that has large open space. About a hundred feet away from the madiya stands a un-completed mosque with erected pillars but no roof. In 2009 Hindus raised objections to the building of the mosque saying it was the panchayat land, while Muslims said it was Waqf land. The dispute went to the court. In March 2015 the court gave the judgment in favour of Muslims. (The Hindu, May 30, 2015) As Muslims planned to start the work on the un-completed mosque, Hindus aggressively opposed it. On May 25 evening, a mob attacked the Muslims, injuring many seriously, and ransacking and burning many homes. Two hours later the police arrived and took a few hundred of Muslim men and women to the Ballabgarh Police Station for safety...

“On May 30, both of us visited the area. We reached the Ballabgarh Police Station at 1:00 PM. One hundred to 150 people from Atali were sitting underneath the trees and a similar number of women underneath a shamiana in sweltering heat. Their faces reflected pain and dejection. Some were still in hospitals. Women were particularly shocked and worried about their belongings and animals. People narrated their tales of horror but showed anxiety to return to their homes. They wanted the attackers to be arrested and compensation to be paid. Some told that the Central Government Minority Affairs Minister Mrs Najma Heptullah, or her nominee visited them and promised help but nothing concrete came forward. We learnt that a meeting was being held to bring peace in the village. We talked to the police but they could not provide details of the incident. ...

“At 2 PM we left for Atali. We walked through the village and talked to a cross-section of people. Many of them, particularly women, were warm. There were policemen stationed all over. As we reached Tali temple, we met a group of people playing cards while many elderly people watching them and talking. We talked to them for half-an-hour. They said there was no court judgment on the mosque. Muslims were forcibly building a mosque on panchayat property in the vicinity of a temple which we cannot allow. Some said, ‘Muslims are kattar (cruel). They were even throwing a Muslim alive in fire.’ We said, ‘Do not speak such cooked-up things. Do not impose fake images on people who have been working for you.’ One old man said, ‘Only two poor Muslim families came in the village in 1947. We gave them shelter as workers. Then they called their relatives and settled them in the village, thus increasing their population.’ We enquired how much land holdings they have? They said, ‘Nothing. We give them work.’ Some listened to our appeal for sanity and respect for working classes while most others looked indifferent. Some said there was no mosque, only a temporary arrangement was there. Muslims could make a mosque away from there, in the area where they live....

“From there we went to the area where the mosque was located. We saw a several years-old multi-pillar concrete structure of the mosque erected, quite contrary to the description provided by the people. The boundary wall of the mosque was damaged. The neighbouring houses of Muslims were burnt. In between them was an undamaged house of a Hindu family who had left. There were a lot of policemen sitting in its veranda. They were nice in talking to us. ...

“As we left the village we realised how unreasonable it was for people to believe that the village belonged to them and Muslims must accede to their wishes. A working class man or woman has the foremost right to live in the village irrespective of his/ her religion or caste. Hating them, terrorising them and killing them is deep injustice. Six days after the incident, there was still hardly any repentance in the village. Fear of survival looms large on the victims. Unless we find a solution to this mindset, Indian villages cannot survive the corporate onslaught that is bent to ruin them.”

Ban More ...Some More

Maggi banned or near-banned. Good. Very Good. Excellent. What about the rest of those fancy foods and soft drinks wrecking our daily lives? Topping the list are those colas and the so-called juices and readymade soups and broths and all the froths.

 In fact, with rising numbers of the cancer stricken, it’s about time to sit up and examine the cancer causers—right from microwave ovens to potato chips to detergents to anything and everything that looks and feels abnormally yummy and quick to make and re-make. Back to the good old ways of everyday living. This quite obviously includes a complete change in the market scenario. Why not a ban on those heady advertisements and those brand ambassadors making an ass of us.

This brings me to write the obvious—all those celebrity stars endorsing these products ought to be heavily penalised and the hefty sums they’d received for those sessions be recovered and spent on the famine-stricken farmer families. No, these super-stars cannot be allowed to sit with crores after endorsing foods and drinks that wreck young lives. Enough of this poisonous nonsense slowly killing the naïve.