Mohammad Asif & Mohd. Amir Khan
Election fever is gripping the most populous state of the country, Uttar Pradesh, and every party – be it BSP, SP-Congress alliance and newcomers like Owaisi’s AIMIM are wooing Muslims with their sop-operas. But the curious case to examine is of the Samajwadi Party which came to power for the fourth time in the state assembly elections of 2012, riding on the popular Muslim-Yadav combination. This combination was also the main factor in the past in making the Samajwadi party a major player in the politics of the state, which most political scholars say is the key to the centre. And as we have already seen in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it was UP which gave keys of power to BJP to run the country (BJP won 71 seats out of 80 in UP).
For more than two decades, Samajwadi Party is considered to be the party of Muslims and they made a very crucial contribution in bringing the party to power for four times in UP. But many incidents which happened in the current SP regime are forcing Muslims to rethink on who to vote for in the assembly elections of 2017. Some of these incidents are very severe, and we will analyse them one by one.
On 21st August 2013, riots broke out in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh. It was for the first time in the history of independent India that a communal riot happened in the rural region of western Uttar Pradesh and it soon spread to the nearby areas, such as Shamli and some villages of Meerut in the proximity of Muzaffarnagar. According to government data, 62 people were killed out of which 42 were Muslims. Some independent ground reports contradicted government data, they claimed that more than 100 Muslims were killed in the riots. The Muzaffarnagar riots have stopped, but the deaths haven’t. A grave humanitarian crisis unfolded, around 1 lakh Muslims were forced to live in relief camps in nearby Muslim majority towns. Victims lodged at the many relief camps say that official neglect, terrible living conditions and the onset of the bitter north Indian cold have already claimed almost as many lives as the riots, which left 60 dead. Ironically, not only is the district administration clueless about the death count, they claim there are hardly any camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. The SP govt’s administration was unable to stop the riot when it was in its initial stage.
More than 500 cases of rioting, murder, attempt to murder and rape were registered and now only a few more than 100 cases remain. All other cases were dismissed by the courts due to insufficient evidence provided by the state government’s police. This shows SP govt’s collusion with the saffron brigade in some way or the other. In the camps, rapes occurred; the SP govt. did not take any proactive measures for controlling these incidents. Most of the perpetrators of the riots are still roaming free in their villages due to the inability of the police to act and in the end to rub salt on the injuries, the govt. forcedly bulldozed many camps, leaving many victims to sleep under the sky in the chilling cold weather. Majority of those displaced are afraid to go back to their villages because they think that the police cannot provide them with ample protection and many of them have nothing left in their villages to go back to.
Lynching of Akhlaq in Dadri
On 28 September 2015, in Bisara village of Dadri, a mob arrived at Mohammad Akhlaq’s house accusing him of eating beef. The family was about to go to sleep, Akhlaq and his son Danish were already asleep. The mob woke them and accused them of consuming beef. They found some meat in the refrigerator and seized it, but the family insisted it was mutton. The mob dragged the entire family outside, Akhlaq and Danish were repeatedly kicked, hit with bricks and stabbed. Akhlaq’s elderly mother and his wife were also attacked. The family’s neighbors tried to stop the mob but were not able to. The police were called and arrived an hour later. By then, Akhlaq was dead and Danish was badly injured. The administration, instead of arresting the culprits, got busy in checking whether the cooked food was mutton or beef. The veterinary department of UP in its initial investigation ruled that the meat found was of a goat.
After a few days, the police arrested the accused and they were jailed. Four months back i.e. in Oct 2016, Ravi Sisodia, one of the main accused arrested on charges of killing Akhlaq, died of renal and respiratory failure. After his death, his family members and villagers of Bisara draped his coffin in the national flag and sat on protest outside Mohammad Akhlaq’s house, demanding a compensation of Rs. 1 crore. The protesters also demanded the immediate release of the other accused. To the surprise of many, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav granted 25 lakhs rupees as compensation to the accused who died of natural causes. Muslims of Uttar Pradesh were left amazed by this decision of Akhilesh Yadav.
On 23 June 2012, a large scale arson took place in Asthan village of Pratapgarh district in which more than 40 houses of Muslims were burned by rioters. The official reason for the riot was that a dalit girl was raped and murdered by the Muslim youths, but many ground reports contradicted the official version. Actually, Asthan village is a Muslim majority village and for the first time in history a Muslim became the village pradhan. Some reports suggest that the infamous Raja Bhaiyya, who was a cabinet minister in SP government and was annoyed by electoral results, had instigated the riot against the Muslims. The names of some SP leaders who reportedly supported the rioters cropped up. Police also became mute spectators when arsonists were burning the houses.
Murder of DSP Zial Ul Haq
Another incident related to Pratapgarh and Raja Bhaiyya occurred in March 2013 when DSP Zia ul Haq of Kunda (Raja Bhaiyya’s village) was murdered during clashes between the villagers.
Praveen Azad, the wife of slain DSP Zia ul Haq, accused Raja Bhaiyya of conspiracy to kill her husband and an FIR was registered against him and some of his associates. The case was handed over to CBI, due to the non-cooperation of the state agencies, mainly of the Pratapgarh district. The CBI, however, also gave a clean chit to Raja Bhaiyya.
Other incidents of communal violence that have occurred in Uttar Pradesh under the SP govt. are: Kosi Kalan (2012) riots in which four Muslims were killed. An analysis of the riots shows that the violence was preplanned, in view of the fact that riots spread to far off places in such a short time on the very first day. In Masuri, Ghaziabad (2012), seven Muslim youth were killed in the police action after an unruly mob attacked the Masuri police station in Ghaziabad. The Masuri violence was the result of the poor coordination and failure of the local intelligence unit. In Bareilly (2012), riots broke out during Ramzan, due to an objection by some Muslims against the loud music played by kanwariyas in front of a mosque, and three Muslims were killed.
In all, more than 400 riots happened under the Akhilesh-led govt. Majority of them were directed against the Muslims and the SP govt. failed miserably in thwarting the communal environment of the state. One thing which they did on a regular basis is to award compensation to the riot victims, but compensation cannot bring back the lives of those who were killed in these riots.
The Promises of SP to Muslims
During the campaign leading to assembly elections 2012, (Uttar Pradesh) SP promised to give Muslims 18% reservation in jobs and employment in accordance with some of the findings of Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission. It also promised to hold special camps so that the Muslims get recruited into the state forces but the promises were never fulfilled. The govt. didn’t even once try to pass a resolution in the state assembly in favor of Muslim reservation.
Samajwadi Party’s Manifesto 2017
In the SP election manifesto of 2017, there is no mention of either Sachar Committee Report or Ranganath Mishra Commission. This shows that the SP no longer considers the recommendations made by these reports important for the upliftment of the minorities, specially Muslims.
Now, it is high time for Muslims to decide whether they can be fooled by some false promises and by the politics of fear created in their heart and mind due to the communal riots or they can decide their own destiny by using the power to vote granted to them by the democratic set-up of the country. The Muslim community should look for an option and not let the leaders take them for granted.
Mr. Mohd Asif is a masters in chemical engg from IIT Kharagpur and Mr. Mohd Amir is master in Civil Engg from AMU,Presently they both are research Scholars at IIT Roorkee.
Images courtesy: the internet.