Muslim villagers attacked, forced out in Punjab as they wanted to build mosque

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi,,

New Delhi: There has been no mosque in the Hindu-dominated remote village of Kalalati Thakurpura in the Ambala district in India’s Punjab province. Muslims – 10-12 homes out of the 150 homes in the village – wanted to build one just before this Ramazan. Haji Sabir Ali of the village had bought a piece of land for the purpose. On July 22 the Muslim villagers invited a local Tablighee Jamaat ameer to outline the mosque and set its direction. And then began their ordeal – fierce protest by the Hindus in the village against the mosque, mobilization of other Hindus from neighbouring villages and ultimately a bloody attack on Muslims on August 22.

Support TwoCircles

To collect facts about the incident All India Muslim Majlise Mushawarat president Dr Zafrul Islam Khan sent a team to the village on August 28. As the area is still tense the team could not reach the village. They, however, visited hospitals in Ambala city where the injured Muslim villagers are being treated, and talked to the victims.

Kalalati village-28-8-09-team leader AR Agwan meeting some villagers

Giving details to this correspondent, Mahtab Alam, national coordinator of the Association for Protection of Civil Rights who was member of the team, said the attack on Muslims on August 22 was fierce. About half a dozen people were injured, one severely who is now in coma in the PGI Hospital. Others are being treated at MM Mulana Hospital in Mulana area of the district. The fanatics ransacked Muslim homes and destroyed properties worth several lakhs of rupees. Muslims were forced to flee their homes to save their lives. Even a week after the attack they are frightened to return as the police have failed to ensure their safety. Many are staying with their relatives in other villages.

The problem started a day after the Muslims meeting to set direction of the mosque on July 22. The news about the proposed mosque – first in the village – spread like a wildfire. The Hindus of the village gathered on July 23 and decided to protest building of the mosque. Peace prevailed only after Muslims agreed to start building only after Hindu co-villagers’ permission. As the Ramazan neared they sought permission but they were denied, leading to tension again engulfing the area. Meanwhile a rumor was spread that Muslims will use cow head and blood in the foudation of the mosque. This further heightened the tension.

Kalalati village-28-8-09-a wounded person showing his injuries

On August 12, three Muslims were beaten up. On August 13 Hindus again gathered not only to reiterate their opposition of the mosque but also to give an ultimatum to the Muslims. Either leave the plan to build the mosque and remove all your Muslim identity like beard or leave the village by August 18.

Muslims met the police officials. They assured them to look into the case and provide protection. A team of seven policemen was deployed in the village to maintain peace but to no avail. Tension continued mounting.

Kalalati village-28-8-09-a wounded person showing his injuries

On August 18 the Hindus organized a big meeting wherein people from 45 villages were invited and they all opposed the mosque.

On August 22 an incident ocurred in a neighbouring village which was used as an excuse by the Hindus of Kalalati Thakurpura to attack on Muslims. A Hindu youth of a neighbouring village was beaten up by someone but he alleged that Haji Sabir Ali was behind the attack on him. As soon as this news reached the village the Hindus gathered and attacked Muslim homes with swords and lathis. This all happened, the vicitms alleged, in the presence of the police team deployed days back.

Kalalati village-28-8-09-a wounded person showing his injuries

FIR was lodged by the Muslims in the Mulana Police Station but little action was taken against the culprits. Only when the news of the attack on Muslims was covered widely in the media that the adiminstration took action and arrested 11 Hindus of the village. Fear still looms large and Muslims are not returning to their homes.

The Mushawarat team was headed by Abdur Rasheed Agwan, secretary of the Mushawarat.