India

Fact Finding Report on Hyderabad Communal Violence

Kamala Kanta Dash, BeyondHeadlines

Communal Violence in Hyderabad on 8 April 2012 is a sorry reminder of the challenging and difficult times for people who profess interfaith, communal harmony and peace. There is an urgent need to look at the genesis of such violence and regrettably policy and legal interventions have been both indifferent and slow. The Fact Finding Reports are great sources for policy makers to study the history and implications of communal riots and disturbances.

Beyond Headlines urges the government to strengthen the policy and legal mechanisms to stop, discourage and prevent communal violence. The Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee (CLMC) conducted a fact finding study of the violence. With the hope that the much required pending bill Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparation) takes cognizance of the developments in Hyderabad, the fact finding report of CLMC is reproduced below.

 

Fact Finding Report of CLMC

A fact finding team of Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee consisting of Prof. Rehana Sultana, Lateef Mohd Khan, Kaneez Fathima, Shefali Jha, S.Q.Masood, M.Mandakini, Yahiya Khan and Mohd Ismail Khan visited parts of Hyderabad city where communal violence erupted on the morning of 8th April 2012 and it had an effect on other parts of the city as well.

Background

Communal violence that spread in Hyderabad is not a sudden act of violence. In recent years communal fever is rising in Andhra Pradesh, it is a part of continuation of greater conspiracy that has impact especially in the Telangana Region because of regional movement for separate Telangana State which is captured by BJP to gain political power; they are working hard with the RSS out fits to communalize the situation and polarize population by developing communal sentiments. Due to this, communal hatred has increased in this region by which both the rural and urban peoples’ lives are in danger and have become the target of Hindutva fascists ideology. The examples of which are the places such as Bhainsa, Karimnagar, Siddipet, Nizamabad, Sangareddy, Medak, Mahboobnagar, Nalgonda and continuous violence in different parts of Hyderabad city from time to time since 2010.

In the year 2011 immediately after Bakrid Festival it reached to hit the highest point when the Hindu Vahini activists attacked Muslim youth and slit their necks. They openly declared and proudly announced that ‘we slit your necks because you cut the throats of our animals’. Police also said that it is Hindu Vahini activists’ act of slitting the Muslim Youths necks. Raja Singh, TDP Corporator of Mangalhat area is the mastermind and supporter of this act. Muslims did not react against this attack and maintained peace with great endurance. For name sake police arrested Raja Singh and others under nominal sections and let them free without any proper investigation.

Later after few days Raja Singh gave a call of Ghanti Bajao (bell ringing) programme at the Mandir attached to Charminar on Friday exactly on the Namaz time. Hundreds of Hindu Vahini activists gathered and started ringing the bell during the Friday prayers. Muslims were stunned at this behaviour of non-Muslims. Still they maintained silence and ignored such act with patience.

Then came the occasion of Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti. This was the time when whole Hyderabad city was tense as it was under the control of RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Hindu-Vahini. They tried to disturb and provoke Muslims with all kinds of activities such as installing the idols and posters of Hanuman facing towards Muslim houses, beating the drums and playing recordings with provocative lyrics, shouting the slogans such as ‘Jai Shri Ram, Mandir wahin banaenge, Bharat mata ki jai, Vande Mataram’ etc. riding on two wheelers and passing from Muslim dominated areas. Even then Muslims maintained their patience.

For the past 3-4 months, the vehicles that were parked in front of Muslims houses were burnt continuously in the areas of Madannapet, Kurmaguda and Saidabad. But police did not take any serious action against the Hindu Vahini activists those who claimed the responsibility of burning the vehicles. Even though Muslims registered complaints there was no serious action by the police and these attacks continued in one or the way.

The facts

On the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti, Praveen Togadia visited Hyderabad city and gave provocative speech against Islam and Christianity. He said that Prophet Mohammed’s birthday should not be allowed to celebrate, Haj subsidy should be stopped, and he passed remarks on Good Friday and Christians. He came to city under the protection of police, delivered his hatred speech in the presence of higher police officials; police allowed him to lead the procession and finally the Congress government provided him security and arranged all facilities to stay as well as leave Hyderabad. Even then Muslims tolerated his provocative speech and government’s attitude.

After Togadia left Hyderabad, riots started in Hyderabad and curfew was imposed in several parts of city, section 144 was imposed in Hyderabad and Secunderabad areas, and during this period also Togadia visited the city and the Congress government permitted to hold a camp of VHP and Hindu Vahini and arranged facilities to him where he addressed and once again instigated the cadre. This time he said that reservation for Muslims is danger for the country. He gave a call to the cadre to awake and aware. It is surprise for the Hyderabadis as to why the Congress government allowed this type of person who is poisoning with communal hatred among the community and instigating to attack the other community.

People of Hyderabad were expecting that violence might take place during or after Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti and there were rumours about it in the city because which of normal life was paralysed. Even after such instigating speeches of Togadia, any big incident did not take place in the city, people felt relaxed that now we can lead a normal life and the tension has ended.

All of sudden on the morning of 8th April, the situation over turned when the news spread that the Hanuman temple is desecrated in the Kurmaguda area.

The team visited the Hanuman temple located at Teen deval road, Kurmaguda where lot of Hanuman temples exists at every nook and corner. There is a police outpost in that area, and even in this outpost there is a big photo of Hanuman hung on the wall. The temple where the trouble started is named as ‘Abhayanjaneya Swami Devalayam’. Two constables were guarding the temple at the time of our visit named B.Rajendhar Singh and N.A. Jaikumar. According to the locals almost three months ago there was just a small idol of Hanuman placed under the peepul tree. Just three months before it was built into a pucca building surrounded by the closed compound wall with a door and large iron grills. As per the locals, this was built by a medical shop owner Prabhu in the acknowledgement of his wishes fulfilled.  There are common walls to two sides of the Mandir attached to Muslim houses. The opposite house to the mandir is also of a Muslim.

As per the version of the local people, the local corporator Sahadev Yadav with the help of his henchmen is taking care of this temple. Until there was no structure around the idol no one visited it, but after the construction local people started visiting it for puja. We came to know from the reliable sources that the fund has also increased simultaneously. There are many groups within them wanting to have control on this particular temple. The mandir is opened in the morning from 5am to 11am and evening from 5pm to 7pm. It is reported that the colour was spread on the wall and the leg of an animal was placed on the ventilator. But, as per the locals when the priest came to open the door, he did not notice the colour on the wall. It was only between 7-8am someone started shouting that green colour is spread on the wall. But our team observed that the colour was not exactly green. So, local people both Muslims and Hindus gathered to see what exactly happened. Local people were trying to sort out the issue by themselves but some youths started making calls and SMSs from mobiles and within no time a mob gathered at the spot and started shouting slogans of Jai Shri Ram. Govind Singh of VHP, BJP and Hindu Vahini leaders also arrived within minutes and one of them announced that there is a leg of cow placed on the ventilator. The team asked the locals as to how do they know that it was the leg of a cow, they could not say anything particularly but said they heard VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders saying this, but they did not see it personally. They further said local police also arrived on the spot and after some time senior police officers arrived along with sniffing dogs. Due to this over action of police, the situation went out of control and the mob also increased, the dogs that were brought were roaming here and there because of which nuisance was created and the dogs went till the petrol bunk that is situated at Saidabad X roads. Because of this the Hindu Vahini mob attacked RTC buses, burqa clad women and other people and vehicles.

Details from the locals of Kurmaguda area

The immediate adjacent house with H. No. 17-2-322/2, lady resident of this house Razia said that she lives with her husband and a son in this rented house and as it was Sunday they had gone to their in laws house, when they arrived in the evening they found that the entrance door and latch of their house was broken.

A furlong ahead, two brothers named Narsing Rao and Mahesh whose house is of 150 years old, said that this act was done by some miscreants to create trouble between Muslims and Hindus. It is handiwork of outsiders and it is purely a political issue. According to them, before delimitation of constituencies, MIM candidate was the corporator and this is the first time that BJP candidate Sahadev Yadav won the seat with majority of just 200 votes after the delimitation of constituencies. They said that political issues should be limited to politicians and they should solve the issues among themselves but the common people should not be made victims of their differences.

According to Md. Ateeq and Shaheda Begum who live in the opposite house of Mandir said that as it was Sunday they were sleeping till late in the morning. Suddenly they heard shouting near their home. She observed that around 150-200 people who were all local youths gathered near their house. The youths attacked them in which one of their children was injured very badly and their doors were also broken. Their house was locked from outside. But they did not register FIR with the fear that police may harass them and the local Hindus may also trouble them.

Another old lady from the same locality said that we live along with Muslims since hundreds of years and we do not have any differences with Muslim community. I have seen this type of incident first time in our locality in my life. I wondered what happened to people suddenly.

The owner of Yousufain Bakery, Mr. Md. Rafth Hussain, who is popularly known as mamu both by the Hindus and Muslims, said that from the time this Mandir expanded differences cropped among them. He further said that Muslims never thought even in dream that this kind of incident will take place in this locality. He is born and brought up here and he is pained that the people who buy things from his shop and the people to whom he greets every day and share all the festivals, the same people attacked us. Muslims can never harm Mandir because Muslims extended their help when the construction was going on and he personally also provided help in cutting the tree etc. This incident would have been solved by talks between elders of both the communities. But some local youths increased the problem. He further stated that the trend of processions that started in both the communities should be stopped because due to this new trend, competition and hatred is increasing between the communities.

A barber named Narsimha lives in the locality since 30 years. According to him everyone live in peace and harmony. He had closed his shop immediately when the violence started. He does not know what exactly happened and did not want to say anything more in this connection. Later some locals said that his son is involved in this issue and he is absconding.

Md. Mateen Hussain and Shaik Md. Farooq local residents explained the incident in detail. They said that this act was done in a planned manner and the persons who are involved over all are from the local area only. The manner in which the attack took place one can understand from itself that they had already gathered stones, bear bottles etc and threw on the Muslims houses. When asked why such things are happening they said it is only because the VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal activities increased in those areas and they are spoiling the minds of youths against Muslims. They also said that from the time BJP corporator was elected, communalism increased. Shivaji Jayanti was also celebrated just before Hanuman Jayanti. Even during the time of curfew in the city bhajans were going on with large gatherings during night times from 10 to 12 pm. They said that all such kinds of activities are regularly carried out which provoke and instigate Muslims. But the Muslims have been tolerating just for the sake of brotherhood and harmony. Due to the Hindutva activities hatred is increasing among the youth. Every day parade is carried out at Saroornagar by RSS cadre. Muslims who suffered injuries and whose houses were pelted with stones did not register complaints because of the fear of harassment. They also expressed anguish that informers play a very big role in providing names of innocent Muslim youths to the police and these informers are from the Muslim community. Some informers have been exposed as well. One important thing that these youth expressed concern is, about the wrong religious education to the youth that is increasing hatred among the communities and the religious processions from both the communities are increasing gap between Hindus and Muslims.

Some of the locals also said that the police personnel were greeting each other with Jai Sri Ram. They also said that a youth named Vasu forcefully entered into a Muslim house and started assaulting the people. They said he has political connections and at present he is absconding. One of them questioned as to why the police is permitting the processions both of the Muslims and Hindus, which is not the Hyderabadi culture and were not seen earlier. Due to these processions competition and hatred is increasing. This should be decreased and people should maintain social values.

Details from residents of Dr. Zakir Hussain colony, Saidabad

The team also visited Dr. Zakir Hussain colony of Saidabad which is attached to the Poosal Basti and Reddy Basti. Mr. Mazhar resident of this colony who was born and brought up here and secretary of Dr. Zakir Nagar Welfare Society said that he never witnessed such kind of violence. While giving details of violence he stated that a mob of over 400 people came towards this colony from Poosalbasti area shouting slogans of Jai Shri Ram. They started pelting stones on the Muslims houses and the road was filled with stones. News reporters’ especially Telugu dailies played a biased role. While the stones were pelted on Muslims houses they were recording the other side, where one or two window glasses of non-Muslim houses were broken due to heavy pelting on Muslims houses. He also said that Saroornagar and Saidabad has become the hub of Hindutva activities. Police and politicians instead of stopping and controlling the mob, came and sat in his house. He did not register FIR but the society submitted a complaint and the police did not register FIR instead acknowledged their complaint. He said we used to read such news in the newspapers but never experienced.  He also said that informers from the Muslim community are playing a big role in giving wrong information about the Muslim youth. He stressed that Police should not depend on informers. Only for the sake of some amount these informers are spoiling the lives of innocents. Mr. Mazhar expressed anguish that police is arresting the victims instead of culprits. He questioned, ‘YEH KYA ZULM HAI, YEH KAISI HUKUMAT HAI, AZAADI HAME RAAS NAHI AARAHI HAI, JO KUCH BHI HO RAHA HAI SIYASI FAYDE KE LIYE HO RAHA HAI.’ He further said, the whole Muslim community is targeted on the name of Mandir. Whatever happened is done by the Hindu community itself which is also exposed, but still police is shielding them.

Some other locals from the same area said that Singi Reddy TDP corporator of Madannapet came within minutes with a mob of over 200 people and was appealing us to be calm as if we were pelting stones. Instead of stopping the rioters they were appealing to us. Even when the police arrived the stone pelting was going on, instead of taking action against, they were requesting the rioters to leave the place. Baddam Bal Reddy a BJP leader also arrived within 15-20 minutes with a mob of over 500 people and they were shouting slogans of Jai Shri Ram. This mob was also pelting stones. Police conducted a meeting with Muslims and said that if such things happen in Masjids, you people immediately clean everything. So one of them asked, should we not inform even to police, then they said you should inform us. They said that if police cannot use their lathi they should throw it away. One of them said police targets whoever speaks boldly. This act of violence is due to the nexus between politicians.

Local people said that some people belonging to different NGO’s visited their localities in the name of fact finding and recorded their statements and collected the contact numbers by saying that help will be provided to them, but now they are making calls and suggesting to compromise and saying that “Maf kardijiye ,Gale mil lijiye.” Local victims are in a confused state of mind and said we are victims, these people can’t understand our pain, grief and loss.

Role of Police Informers

The places like Saidabad, Madannapet, and Kurmaguda where team has visited, there every local was complaining about the role of police informers who have played a major role in the arrests of Muslim youths. People of those localities also said that peace committee and Maitri committee which was formed by the police for communal harmony in the communal sensitive localities is not playing their actual role and have transformed into informers committee. One local whose son was also being targeted by the police informer by providing false information said that these informers just to gain some favor from the police or even some times to take revenge of personal rivalry are providing bogus information to the police against Muslim youths coming from well educated families. The locals even said that informers are nothing but pet dog of the police, and they should be boycotted by the society.      

 

Police Version

The team went to the office of Additional Commissioner of Police and met the concerned police officers. When enquired about the violence and the present situation, they said that now the situation is under control. They further said that your team has visited the places so you people can understand the conditions better. We are doing our best to maintain law and order. When asked about the informers’ role they said that they have received the complaints about them and we are using modern techniques to find out the culprits whereabouts. When asked as to why the police did not act immediately, they said we do not have enough force to control the situation, so we have to wait till the forces arrive. They were unable to answer as to why Togadia is permitted to enter the city when the city had already faced communal tension in the year 2010 after the visit of similar persons from North. The officers requested our team to do something to ban the processions of both Muslims and Hindus, our tension will also decrease and we can concentrate on work. When asked about the progress of investigation, they said our first priority is to maintain the law and order situation, but most of the culprits are absconding. Now SIT is formed and they are looking after this issue.

Observation

After the Madannapet incidence, many Masjids were desecrated by throwing the dead dogs and pigs. These Masjids come under the new city area. By observing these incidents we can understand that the Hindutva forces tried their maximum to instigate Muslims. This committee observed that in this violence Muslims houses were attacked, their properties destroyed, women were misbehaved, Muslim youth were attacked but police instead of providing protection to Muslims are shielding Hindutva forces. Police arrested number of innocent Muslim youths and also showing many youths absconding by implicating them, who were acquitted in the Makkah Masjid blast case. We also observe that the present Congress government of Andhra Pradesh has failed to fulfill its responsibility towards its citizens. At present the law and order situation is in worst condition. The government has lost grip on its administration. Muslim politicians has failed full fill their responsibility at this high time.

Findings

1.      Police has failed to control the Hindutva fascists’ forces and this is a criminal negligence of police department.

2.      It is observed that communal forces such as RSS, VHP, Hindu Vahini and Bajrang Dal are strengthening themselves in the areas where there is communal harmony and making those areas communally polarized to achieve their Fascist agenda.

3.      The minds of innocent Youths from Hindu community are inflicted with hatred against Muslims by regular hatred and instigating speeches by the communal leaders and also at the Hindutva training camps.

4.      It is observed that when the violence took place in the city in the year 2010, mob was mobilized from neighboring states but these time the locals itself are involved in the riots. With this we can understand that the Communalism is deep rooted in this region.

5.      This violence was targeted and pre planned.

6.      Politicians are using innocent people and destroying their lives for their political benefits.

7.      Muslims alone are the sufferers of violence, they are alone blamed for violence and they are alone harassed and arrested for others misdeeds.

8.      The role of police is questionable because on one side they created a big scene by bringing dogs, conducting panchnama etc and on the other side they asked Muslim community elders to clean off everything if Masjids are desecrated.

9.      Even though the culprits have been identified and the real criminals are exposed, the police are soft and sympathetic towards them.

10. When police arrested a Hindu youth for desecrating Hanuman mandir, and produced him in front of media in respectful manner. Police defended him by stating that “Shiv Kumar Sahab ko kuch insecurity thi, toh police ki security ke liye unho ne mandir mein gosht rakha, unka intention wrong nahi tha.” With this we can understand the nexus of police with the criminals.

11. There is fear among the Muslim community that the police by taking the advantage of these riots again will target the Muslim youths who have just come out from the trauma of police harassment.

12.  some organizations which are funded by government and western countries is exploiting the situation.

Demands

1.      The committee holds the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh morally responsible for the violence and administratively responsible for the police failure and police over action against Muslims. Hence the committee demands that the Chief Minister should act decisively.

2.       Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee demands the Congress government to take   immediate action against the culprits identified and punish them.

3.      Introduce Communal Targeted Violence Bill, 2011 in the Parliament and implement it immediately.

4.      Compensate the victims whose properties have been destroyed and those who suffered injuries by keeping in view the sections mentioned in the above bill.

5.      Stop the harassment of Muslim youth by the police and take the confidence building measures among the Muslim community.

6.      Demand to take action against those communal leaders who are spreading hatred in Hyderabad.

7.      Keep vigil on the activities of RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Vahini to stop further communalization of the society.

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