SURI: One person was killed and several others were injured in a clash at several Hindu tribal-dominated villages in Birbhum’s Mohammad Bazaar, the heart of the stone mining belt on April 29, 2010.
A mob, reportedly backed by the local stone crushers and mine owners (all Muslims), launched an attack on the Hindu villages early in the morning. The attack was reportedly in retaliation to the killing of a corrupt Muslim stone crusher supervisor on April 26, 2010.
The Hindu villages have seen simmering tension for the past couple of months, with villagers alleging that poor tribals were exploited and their land snatched away by the Muslims in the stone-crushing industry. They had also been complaining that villagers were often injured during blasting in stone mines. Also, there has been rampant complaints of Hindu women being attacked and assaulted by Muslim activists along the whole mining belt in West Bengal and Jharkhand.
On April 26, night, a supervisor of a stone crushing unit, Basirul Seikh (50, a Muslim and known Hindu baiter), was killed by a group of villagers at Talbandi. Though Basirul worked in a stone product company, he recently procured a plot of land to set up a stone mine in the area. His brother, Jamirul, alleged that his elder brother was summoned to resolve a dispute over the plot with some locals. He reached the house of one Debu Hansda, with whom he was acquainted. Suddenly, a group of armed villagers attacked Basirul and hacked him to death. Both the brothers were involved in various anti-social activities and often conspired with Muslims in the area to torture and molest local Hindu tribal women.
Early on April 26, morning, thousands of people-labourers and villagers backed by stone crushing unit owners-gathered at a place near Sagarbandi village, said police. The heavily armed mob rushed to Talbandi and Sagarbandi, which is dominated by Santhal tribals. More than 100 thatched houses were set on fire, people were dragged out of their homes and beaten up mercilessly and bombs hurled indiscriminately. Women were molested and raped, children were not spared.
Though it took some time for the initial shock to go away, the tribal Hindu victims-numbering thousands-regrouped and started attacking the nearby stone crusher units, many of them owned by Muslim mining mafia bosses. A weighbridge and some crushers were set ablaze. The situation was so tense that police could not enter the trouble zone initially. It was only after six hours that senior officers – District Magistrate Saumitra Mohan, DIG, Burdwan range, Jagmohan, SP Rabindranath Mukherjee and ASP Farhat Abbas – managed to get in with force backup.
The angry tribals surrounded them for some time. Two injured Hindu men-Mangala Murdi and Kabiraj Murmu, who received serious bomb injuries-were taken to Suri hospital in serious condition. A large team- including combat force and EFR jawans-was deployed in the area, but stray clashes continued to occur in some areas. The forces discovered the body of a Hindu villager, Motilal Tudu, from Sagarbandhi.
The media, too, was not allowed into the villages. A cameraperson who tried to enter was chased out. The District Magistrate said: “We are discussing the situation with villagers. The villagers are cooperating with us.” When asked whether they were encircled by the villagers, he denied it.
The District Magistrate said that they would distribute relief materials and the district administration would help the villagers to reconstruct the destroyed homes.
Najir Hossain Mallik (a known Islamist), the president of Panchami Stone Mines and Owners Association, said: “We, the owners, were not at all involved in the attack. We have requested the administration to bring back peace at any cost.” Mallik is known as ‘Mr Terror’ in the area and the non-Muslim crowd in the area has expressed serious concerns about this man and his unholy Islamic nexus.