This is the 3rd part of Neha's article on India.
Madhya Pradesh witnessed the consolidation of the power and impunity of Hindutva outfits. The occasions of Hindu festivals to demonstrate strength of the Hindutva outfits has been used as a strategy to intimidate other communities. The region of Malwa in particular has been a hotbed of conflicts. The role of the police has been partial specifically during the Neemuch riot where the police officials refused to register FIRs lodged by Muslims.
3rd April 2015, Neemuch:
In a built-up to Hanuman Jayanti, the Bajrang Dal insisted that the procession must be taken out on Friday instead of Saturday, the day Hanuman Jayanti actually fell on. During this procession, they shouted slogans against Muslims while they were in their Friday prayers at Athana Darwaza Jama Masjid and Momin Mohalla Masjid. They also played loud music in front of the Mosque during prayers. The Bajrang Dal torched houses, shops and vehicles belonging to Muslims. The police imposed curfew only in Muslim dominated localities and arrested 30 Muslims (twocircles.net, 2015).
4th April 2015, Alirajpur:
Communal violence erupted when a scuffle took place between district BJP President’s son Sudhanshu Verma and local Muslims allegedly over the decorations for Hanuman Jayanti. Section 144 was imposed to bring the situation under control. The number of injured wasn’t reported (twocircles.net, 2015).
22nd October 2015, Khargone:
Communal violence took place during Dussehra celebrations. While the residents of one community were returning from the festivities, the people of other community pelted stones at them according to the police. This led to communal violence. Four persons were injured. The police resorted to lathicharge and lobbed teargas to control the violence. Nearly 100 persons were detained for their participation in the violence (The Indian Express, 2015).
Jharkhand was on boil, rife with tension especially against the backdrop of activities of Hindutva outfits. It is interesting to note that in 2014 Jharkhand reported the highest number of communal incidents at 349 according to NCRB (The Indian Express, 2015). Communal violence in Jharkhand was with an eye on the Bihar elections. For example, Jamshedpur has a large number of Bihari migrants and already witnessed a major communal riot in 1979.
4th January 2015, Giridih:
Communal violence took place over procession of Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi where stone pelting took place. Seven bikes and two four wheelers were set on fire and two houses damaged. About 10 people including children and policemen received minor injuries. Prohibitory orders were imposed to bring the situation under control (the Indian Express, 2015).
20th July 2015, Jamshedpur:
Communal riot took place after rumors were spread about a Hindu girl being eve teased in the vicinity of boys’ hostels located in a Muslim neighbourhood. This incident took place a day after Eid. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal members took out a procession to demand action against the eve teasing and shops and vehicles belonging to Muslims were torched in different parts of Mango. No casualties or injuries were reported. The police arrested 133 including some VHP leaders. Curfew was also imposed to control the situation (The Indian Express, 2015).
25th September 2015, Ranchi:
Communal violence erupted when a hide of an animal was found outside a Kali temple. The VHP and Bajrang Dal members took out a procession and threw stones at Etra Masjid. Youth with sticks and shouting “Jai Shri Ram” threatened shopkeepers to keep shops shut. The police resorted to lathicharge. 65 persons were detained and prohibitory orders issued (The Indian Express, 2015).
24th October 2015, Hazaribaug:
Communal riot was triggered by confrontation during Muharram and Durga Puja which coincided on the same day in October. One person was reported dead and many injured. The police imposed section 144 to bring the situation under control. Similarly tension brewed in other districts of Latedar, Dhanbad and Daltonganj on the same day (Hindustan Times , 2015).
21st December 2015, Ranchi:
Discovery of meat outside a kali temple and a masjid in Ormajhi led to communal riots. No deaths were reported. The police arrested 45 people, 25 Hindus including members of Hindutva groups and rest Muslims (the Indian Express, 2015).
Rajasthan witnessed two incidents as per the media reports available. [i]
23rd October 2015, Sri Dungargarh:
The reason cited for communal violence was use of loudspeakers by one group when two separate religious processions were taken out. The other group objected to the loudspeaker and this was followed by stone pelting. Some shops were looted and torched. This led the police to resort to lathicharge and use teargas. The police arrested 50 persons and also clamped an indefinite curfew (The Hindu, 2015).
24th October 2015, Bhilwara:
20 year old Islamuddin’s death led to a riot. He was allegedly killed the previous day. The police were on 24th October stopped from sending the body for post mortem. Around 500 Muslims demanded that the suspect first be arrested. No deaths were reported in the riot (The Hindu, 2015).
The public discourse in Delhi in the end of 2014 was dominated by the attacks on Churches and the sense of insecurity that gripped the Christian community. These attacks continued in January in 2015 but stopped after the Delhi assembly elections indicating that the attacks on churches were to consolidate vote banks ahead of the elections. However the police insisted that there is no pattern to these attacks and some local petty miscreants are involved.
14th January 2015, Vikaspuri (West Delhi):
The statue of other Mary was pushed down and the glass cabinet it was kept in was damaged at Our Lady of Graces Church. A case of defiling a place of worship has been registered against identified persons. No person was reported injured (Times of India, 2015).
2nd February 2015, South Delhi:
At St. Alphonsa Church, the chalice was taken away and its contents scattered on the floor. This act of vandalism led the police to file a case of theft and defiling a place of worship (Times of India, 2015)
Jammu and Kashmir:
Jammu Kashmir is governed by an uneasy alliance between BJP and PDP formed in 2015. The number of communal riots in Jammu Kashmir is lesser than national average as seen from previous years.
20th August 2015, Samba (Jammu):
Communal riot erupted when the head of a bovine was found in a nullah. The local youth protested and started hurling stones. They also torched vehicles on the national highway. The police resorted to lathicharge, lobbed teargas and also fired shot. The army was called upon to control the situation. No deaths or injuries were reported (The Indian Express, 2015).
BJP ruled Gujarat has reported 25 incidents of communal violence between January and June 2015. 7 people died and 79 were injured (DNA India, 2015).
4th January 2015, Vadodara:
The trigger for communal violence in this instance was the procession of Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi. During this procession a signage belonging to members of other community was damaged in Akota. This led to a confrontation and stone pelting. Three persons including two women were reported to be injured. The police lobbed tear gas shell to stop violence (The Indian Express, 2015).
14th January 2015, Ambheta and Hansot:
The communal violence was due to a spat between two communities in Ambheta over road construction. The mobs hurled stones at each other and turned violent. The tension of this incident spread to the nearby town of Hansot where the mob resorted to hurling stones and shops were torched. Two people died and four were injured in these incidences (Times of India, 2015).
Maharashtra has witnessed 59 incidents of communal violence from January to June in 2015 in which 4 people were killed and 196 injured (Dna India, 2015). BJP- Shiv Sena alliance won a majority in assembly elections in 2014 and formed the government. This government passed the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill banning beef in Maharashtra. Communalization of attitudes in the state is leading to conflicts and atmosphere of animosity.
4th January 2015, Mumbai:
In Lalbaug area of Mumbai, two groups of youth belonging to different communities got into an altercation. Some bikers were allegedly hit when a bike brushed passed a woman in the crowded area of Lalbaug market. This motorbike was part of the Eid-e-Milad-un- Nabi procession. After this incident the crowd stopped and roughened up any bikers wearing a skull cap or bearing flags. The police had to take help of social media to send messages urging people to not believe in rumors (The Indian Express, 2015). No casualty was reported (Times of India, 2015).
15th January 2015, Pachora:
Communal violence was preceded by tension between groups of Muslim and Hindu youth in weekly market area. Initially a Muslim boy was beaten and next a Hindu boy assaulted. This was followed by confrontation of people from both communities. Six people were injured and the mob burned a car and other few two wheelers besides damaging property to the tune of Rs. 4- 5 lakhs. The police detained 50 people from both communities (The Indian Express, 2015).
14th July 2015, Harshul:
The riot that took place in Harshul was primarily an Adivasi and non Adivasi conflict. Harshul has majority Adivasi population but they are not in a position of power. The other communities exploit them. The police especially pay no heed to the crimes against the Adivasis. On 7th July, the body of Bhaghirath Chowdhury, an Adivasi youth was allegedly found in the well of one Rizwan Akhtar. The police refused to take the body out of the well or register FIR initially. Due to the inaction of the police, the Adivasis organized a protest rally to demand police action and justice. This rally turned violent when the mob started systematically attacking the Muslim houses and shops. Over 20 such establishments were looted and vandalized. Incidentally some of the well placed Muslims were warned about the impending violence and thus they fled the town before the violence occurred (The Indian Express, 2015). Some pamphlets were also distributed. This indicates that the violence was planned. The police were also injured. One person died after being hit by a police bullet and numerous including 38 police were injured (The Indian Express, 2015).
Karnataka has remained communally tense amongst the southern states. This can be gauged by some revealing statistics. The coastal region of Karnataka has witnessed at least 153 incidents of communal violence from January to October 2015 alone (hindustan times, 2015). 36 incidents occurred between January 2015 and June 2015, leaving two dead and 123 injured (Times of India, 2015). The Bajrang Dal and VHP have been actively brewing tensions as can be seen from the incidents of communal violence. The police has been found wanting in its role to prevent violence and to provide security.
23rd September 2015, Mudhol:
Communal violence took place during Ganesh Puja procession in Janata colony where the procession led by Shri Rama Sene reached a Mosque. A week earlier Shri Rama Sene had put a poster about the procession outside the Mosque. The Muslims in retaliation put a poster of Tipu Sultan. When the procession reached outside the Mosque it was noticed that adequate number of police were not deployed. Stone pelting ensued and followed by looting and burning of over 20 properties owned by Muslims by Shri Rama Sene. The violence was planned is indicated by the use of petrol bombs and burning tyres. Police arrested 90 persons in total, only 30 from Shri Rama Sene. Riots took place in Chikkodi, Surpur, Dharwad and Koujalagi in the same month (Hindustan Times, 2015).
27th October 2015, Nelliyadi:
Communal violence took place in this village near Mangalore when a Muslim barbar refused to shut his shop on Tuesdays. Bajrang Dal leader Ravi Ballya went to the shop and asked Salman to keep his shop shut on Tuesdays claiming that Hindus don’t cut hair on Tuesdays. But Salman refused. After this a mob led by Ravi Ballya attacked Salman’s shop along with other shops belonging to Muslims in Jumma Masjid complex. Another mob led by People’s Front of India retaliated by indulging in arson and vandalism. The police imposed curfew to bring the situation under control and arrested nine persons from both communities. Many were injured and damage worth lakhs was reported (Hindustan Times, 2015).
10th November 2015, Bengaluru:
Communal violence took place when Muslim group took out a procession to mark Tipu Sultan Jayanti which was opposed by Hindutva activists. A VHP activist died from sustaining injuries from stone pelting. The police resorted to lathicharge (The Indian Express, 2015).
[i] According to peace workers in Rajasthan more incidents of communal violence have occurred. However media reports have yielded only these two incidents.