(This is the English version of the press-note circulated by the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (AIPMM). Translated by Khalid Anis Ansari)
In a village in Bihar’s East Champaran district the lives of the poor Muslims belonging to backward castes has been under continuous threat from the dominant caste Muslims for the last seven years. The recent incident happened on the night of December 7 2012 when a handicapped and poor person named Akbar Ali was brutally attacked and his limbs broken by the henchmen of the dominant Muslim castes. After having assumed that he was dead they subsequently threw him on the roadside and left the site. Akbar Ali has been hospitalized in a private hospital in Motihari where his life now hangs in the balance.
The All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (henceforth Mahaz) while strongly condemning the recent episode has said that people with such a mindset have presented a distorted image of the principle of equality in Islam. Ali Anwar Ansari, MP and President Mahaz, said this in a press statement after meeting with the aggrieved families. In the statement he said that these kinds of violent incidents against pasmanda muslims have been continuously occurring in the last seven years in the Allahpur hamlet situated in Rampur Bairiya village in East Champaran district. On December 6, 2007 an entire locality of poor Muslims was torched maliciously and razed to dust. In this incident a case of heavy arson was filed and a few persons were also arrested. The case is still sub judice under the court of law.
In the meanwhile one of the alleged conspirators of the 2007 violence Sarfaraz Ahmad Khan has become the mukhiya and it is this person that has been instrumental in this recent episode of violence. In the last panchayat elections the poor villagers had opposed him. While he was already annoyed at this move by the villagers, he got furious when the poor villagers brought to light the fact—by moving the Election Commission and the Courts—that Sarfaraz Ahmad Khan had deliberately failed to mention the 2007 arson case against him in the nomination papers that he filed for the mukhiya election. The villagers had therefore asked for the scrapping of the elections. Since then he had turned much more aggressive resulting in many localized incidents of clashes here and there.
The villagers also told the Mahaz’s fact-finding team that the pasmanda families of the village no longer consent to undertake forced labor (baith-begaari) for the dominant forward caste Muslims. They also oppose any violation of the honor of their womenfolk. The episodes of violence only started when the pasmanda muslims stopped tolerating any kind of discrimination against their children in the local school (madrasa) or mosque (masjid). Now the only passage to the village is often obstructed for them. In one previous incident, during the marriage of the daughter of a lower-caste Muslim family, the bridegroom made the grievous mistake of arriving at the wedding in a Maruti car, a clear symbol of status in the backward village economy. In so doing, he drove through a street along which lived upper-caste Muslims. Pandemonium subsequently broke out as henchmen of the upper-caste community members attacked the wedding guests, and mixed mud into the food. To top it off, it was not the perpetrators that were later harassed by the police, but rather the victims themselves. It turned out that the local inspector was an upper-caste Muslim himself.
The villagers also told that the makeshift straw mosque that they constructed in June 2007 to escape the humiliation meted out to them in the main mosque has since been attacked and damaged twice. When a primary school was opened in the village by the government recently the mukhiya got it relocated nearer to his house.
On December 7 2012, around 9 pm, when Akbar Ali along with his two other friends was returning to his village after attending the marriage ceremony of Mr. Narayan Yadav’s daughter from the neighboring village, they were ambushed by the mukhiya Sarfaraz Ahmad Khan and about fifteen henchmen. The latter were equipped with all kinds of weapons. Two of Akbar Ali’s friends somehow managed to escape but he himself could not escape as he was handicapped. After meeting the aggrieved families the Mahaz’s fact-finding team led by Ali Anwar Ansari, MP, met the District Magistrate and the S. P. and demanded that the accused be immediately arrested and the families of the victims should be helped in all manner possible.
[Courtesy: Begumpura, December 13, 2012]