Intro: Saharanpur fell prey to communal frenzy and mindless violence a few days before the festival of Ramzan Eid. The pattern of riots appeared pre-planned as there was no visible reason that could stir such a violent reaction from a section of people.?
While the embers of Muzaffarnagar riots have not been fully dozed yet, another important Uttar Pradesh town Saharanpur fell prey to communal frenzy and mindless violence a few days before the festival of Ramzan Eid. Located on the tri-junction of Haryana, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, this otherwise peaceful town of Saharanpur witnessed for the first time in its history such terrible riots on July 26 that shattered their hearts and minds as never before.
Saharanpur is famous for its art of wood carving, sugarcane farms and sweet sugar, Star Paper Mill, cigarette factory, Ma Shakhabhari Shaktipeeth situated in the Shiwalik ranges, and world famous Islamic teaching centre of Deoband. It has developed a culture of mutual harmony and understanding over the years. But the July 26 riots tore apart this fabric of communal harmony posing a severe threat not only to Uttar Pradesh but also to entire country as the possibility of involvement of forces inimical to India such as ISI of Pakistan.
The previous Union Government under Manmohan Singh took cognizance of Muzaffarnagar riots and rushed central forces to rescue the hapless citizens, so as the Prime Minister Modi immediately deputed Home Minister Rajanth Singh to take stock of the situation and report the matter to him. But the state Government of Akhilesh Yadav has failed on both the occasions to provide adequate security to its citizens.
Looking at the pattern of the riots the senior police and administration officers are voicing their doubts whether the riots were pre-planned as there was no visible reason to instigate such a violent reaction from a section of the people.
The root cause: The main reason that triggered the riots was construction activity by some Sikhs near a Gurudwara on Ambala Road under Kutubsher Police Station precincts. This land was stated to be disputed by a section of Muslims. Historically, the land belonged to one Muslim Shiya Dhanna Seth Hasan Taskari who left for Pakistan during partition. The ownership of this land was with the custodian who gave this to one Agrawal family.
The land was sold to Sri Gurudwara Singh Sabha some years ago. The Sabha Chairman Sardar Balbir Singh Dheer claimed that this land belonged to the Gurudwara and thus considered the attack on their religious place.
Pre-planned riots: The perpetrators of the riots made full preparations well in advance. Even the administration and intelligence agencies had the prior intimation but they preferred to remain inactive maybe because of the political compulsions. A group of Muslims instigated the Muslims under the pretext that the Sikhs had demolished a mosque at the disputed site and started construction there.
The officers came to know about the incident but did not act immediately. Meanwhile, Muslim leaders including Imran Masud, (Congress), Shajan Masud (SP), Son in law of SHahi Imam MLC Umar Ali Khan, reached the place and tried to pacify the Muslim mobs. Around 3.30 am ADM Dinesh Chandra, SP City Vaibhav Krishna, and SDA officers reached Kutubsher Police Station to talk to Muslims leaders.
The extent of damage: In those couple of hours the riot mongers burnt shops, indulged in loot and arson and attacks. Police fired in air to control the mob and succeeded in dispersing the mob around 11 am from Kutubsher square. At the same time incident of arson was reported from Nehru Market and famous cloth market of Raywala. Curfew was imposed by DM Sandhya Tiwari and paramilitary forces made flag march.
In this riot 165 shops, and 42 vehicles were destroyed. 34 people were injured while three precious lives were lost. The administration declared compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of those killed and Rs 50 thousand to those injured. Police have registered 22 cases of rioting, arrested 43 people and took preventive action against 33.
Mastermind of Riots Arrested?
Moharram Ali, alias Pappu, the mastermind of Saharanpur riots was arrested on July 29 by Qutubsher police. Qutubsher is the locality where riots took place. Six more people have been arrested. They include Danish (son of Moharram Ali), Irshad (nephew of Moharram Ali), Mohd Abid Ali and Shahid Ali and Irfan who had lodged complaint against Guru Singh Sabha. NSA has been imposed against all the accused. A total 75, FIRs have been registered against them. Total arrests in the riots so far are 89. This information was given by DIG N Ravindra. Moharram Ali is a Congress leader and claimed to play a key role during the general elections for Congress nominee, Imran Masood. He had joined the Congress in the presence of Rahul Gandhi when he visited Saharanpur during elections. The role of Imran Masood in riots is also no more a secret. He was said to be involved in the planning and execution along with Moharram Ali, who is four times member of Municipality from Kamela colony. There are reports that Moharram Ali had asked Rs 30 lakh from the Guru Singh Sabha and since the money was not paid he hatched the conspiracy of riots. There are also reports the loot of local shops was preplanned and the entire material looted from the shops was dispatched to Delhi. However the policed is yet to recover the material so far.
BJP delegation tours affected area: Meanwhile, the BJP delegation led by UP Pradesh BJP President Lakshmi Kant Vajpayee visited Saharanpur and interacted with the affected people. The team members visited the family of Harish Kochar who was killed in the riot and consoled them. The Sikhs told the visiting members that police did not act in time to save the life and property. The committee members also interacted with the administrative officials and demanded immediate steps to redress the problems of the affected people.
Meanwhile, BJP leader Shiv Prakash told that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was keeping close watch on the Saharanpur situation. He blamed the Akhilesh Government for the failure to control the riots. He also castigated SP leader and Minister Azam Khan for accusing BJP and others. -Surendra Singhal