Uneasy calm in Vadodara after days of communal riots, 140 arrested, locals accuse police of bias

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani, TwoCircles.net,

Ahmedabad/ Vadodara: “We saw infamous 2002 riots in Vadodara on the same pattern, Muslims are being attacked by Hindus with the help of police and later they are only detained,” alleged 72 year old Abu Miya in Wadi area with tears are in his eyes. The old man claimed that the riot is well planned and Muslims are once again made to suffer the brunt of violence, both by the rioters and the police.

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The police have so far arrested over 140 people in connection with rioting. On Monday uneasy calm prevailed in the old city as anti-riot police kept strict vigil. There is fear though that there might be violence at night.

Photos from Vadodara after the communal clash.

Vadodara police have arrested over 140 people so far, after two men were stabbed during violence between Hindus and Muslims that left more than a dozen injured. The violence triggered on Thursday after an image was posted on Facebook, officials said on Monday.

The violence in Gujarat coincided with the visit of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United States, who is set to meet President Barack Obama later on Monday.

Locals in Muslim localities alleged that on Sunday night, when they were sleeping after day long spate of violence, they were attacked by rioters under “full police security” in Wadi and Taiwadi areas and damaged properties and vehicles. This could, however, not be verified.

One Ayesha Bibi alleged that police rammed into her house and used very abusive words. Locals alleged that Police arbitrarily picked several Muslims, like Abdul Rehman although they were not involved in rioting.

Another old lady Saidabibi claimed that the rioters ransacked her house and also took away Rs 2000, adding that police was accompanying them The homes of Ismail Malek, Ismail Lambawala, Samimbanu Mastan, Ismail Fruitwala were also allegedly attacked by police.

Vadodara based well known activist and former professor of M.S. university DR. J.S. Bandukwala said that Gujarat is in the control of Saffron outfits like RSS/VHP/Bajrang Dal, whom Modi used to rise in power and they are now beyond his control. He added that encouraging hatred among Muslims cannot gel well with Modi’s plank of development.

Meanwhile, Vice President of Gujarat Unit of All India Milli Council, Munir Kheruwala and some other prominent people of city met police commissioner E. Radhakrishnan and requested him to bring situation under control. Jamiat Ulama Hind has also given memorandum to authorities and condemned police inaction to curb the violence.

Vadodara based social activist and educationist Zuber Goplalani told this correspondent on phone that the police acted in partisan and bias manner against Muslims in walled city.

90 percent of the population in Vadodara are enjoying Garba and there appears to be no tension for them but fear is being created amongst Muslims by such mindless violence. He too reiterated the accusations that like 2002 rioters and police are acting in collusion.

Meanwhile, mobile telephone Internet and bulk text messaging service have been suspended for four days as a precautionary step by the local administration.

“We arrested 140 people on Sunday evening after two men were stabbed,” the city’s police commissioner, E. Radhakrishnan, said, adding, “The injured are under medical observation and those who have been arrested are being interrogated.”

Trouble was sparked by an image widely distributed on social media website Facebook that some Muslims considered offensive to Islam, said a senior administration official in the city.

Photos from Vadodara after the communal clash.

The latest violence has marred celebrations of the Navratri festival that followed after widespread allegations of Love Jihad that prompted Hindutva outfits to demand ban on entry of Muslims in Garba.

“The idea of banning Muslims from Hindu festivals has upset the minority but we are determined to keep the celebrations open to all,” Radhakrishnan told Reuters. It should be mentioned here that in last couple of weeks environment has been communally charged up in Gujarat and other parts of the country in the wake of the propaganda over Love Jihad and the call of the VHP and BJP leaders to ban Muslim youths from participating in garba dance during Navratri, which began on Thursday. The controversial cleric from Kheda Maulana Mehdi Hasan was arrested and sent to judicial custody for his alleged ridicule of Garba festival, when he apparently called garba a festival of devils. He was even slapped by the VHP worker in the court compound.

VHP has cautioned Gujarat home Secretary S.K. Nanda against government advisory note not to stop anyone from entering Garba venue. Its Ahmedabad secretary Raju Patel issued a release stating:”Is Nanda a religious leader? Do his relatives associated with famous Jagnnath temple allow Muslims in their temple?. First he should stop Mosques’ loud speakers and then he should order banning loud speakers in garba”. Gujarat was comparatively free from communal riots in last one decade after the atrocious 2002 pogrom. There is fear that an attempt is being made to revive the communal tension in an already polarized state.


Simmering communal tension in Vadodara after riot