How anti-Muslim crimes reached a village in Karnataka after Pulwama attacks

Written by Nikhat Fatima | Published on: March 13, 2019

The calls of an all-out war with Pakistan may have subsided, but the effects of warmongering are unlikely to subside anytime soon. For some unfortunate Muslims from Raichur district, the post-Pulwama anti-Muslim hatred has landed them in a lengthy legal battle.




On February 16, Muslims of Talekhan village, Lingsagur Tehsil, Raichur District in Karnataka had gathered for the Jummah namaz in the afternoon when members of RSS barged in and beat up the worshippers and drove them away. Then, the miscreants set fire to the prayer mats, the green flags of the adjacent dargah, wall posters of Kaaba and other materials inside the mosque.



They even beat up some of the villagers who tried to stop them and filed a complaint with the police alleging that they were celebrating the Pulwama bomb blast and raised Pro-Pakistan slogans. The police promptly took the complaint, charge sheeted the 6 men under section 143, 147, 120 (A), 124 (A), 504 and 149 of Indian Penal Code. The offences under these sections are unlawful assembly; punishment for unlawful assembly; rioting; criminal conspiracy; sedition; intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace.

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The police arrested Khaja sab, Basha Sab, Hussain sab, Rahim, sab, Budne sab and Hussain sab based on the complaint lodged by Mahantesh Bhajantri, the leader of the Hindu organisation, on Friday night and kept them in police custody before transferring them to the district headquarters at Raichur the next day.
 
Talekhan is a small village with a population of about 1,500 people out of which about 300 are Muslims.

The Pulwama attacks also led to news channels competing among each other over who could fan the fire of war. Even regional channels were not behind. Kannada news channel ‘TV5 KannadaTV’ picked up the news and telecasted the information claiming that about 15 people were waving green flags and celebrating the Pulwama attacks.  What they were missing, of course, was any evidence to support the news that they were celebrating against the attacks. So, cue in some shots of the village, background music and reporters with loud voiceovers over and over again. This, even when images and videos of a vandalised mosque, which was recorded by the perpetrators, was being circulated on social media.

The Raichur Bar Association went a step further. The president of the Bar, who is of right winged ideology, called for a meeting of the lawyers and passed a resolution that no lawyer should help the accused traitors to file the bail application.
As a result, no lawyer came forward to help them.



Finally, ‘INSAF’, an organisation in Humnabad, Bidar District, Karnataka that works for the rights of religious minorities and other backward castes wrote to the Home Minister of Karnataka State, to the Inspector General and other authorities requesting for a fair enquiry.

“A fact-finding team from INSAF went up to the Tehsil and adjacent village but we were not allowed to enter the village by the police. We were told that the matter is sensitive and the police are doing its own fact-finding” said Syed Farhan Ali, who is heading INSAF, to TwoCircles.net. He also informed that the families of the 6 arrested persons left the village out of fear.

Razak Ustad, a social activist and a member of Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), Raichur chapter informed TwoCircles.Net since the mosque stood on Wakf property, APCR requested the Wakf office in Raichur to file a complaint with the police about the damage to the Mosque property. There is a video clip circulating on social media as evidence. The Wakf board filed a complaint and even mentioned the names of the people responsible but the police in their FIR mentioned them as ‘unknown persons’.

“Their faces are visible in the video where they are damaging the mosque, which was shown to the police, yet they have made no arrest. Instead, they arrested the 6 men just on a verbal complaint with no evidence,” said Razak to Twocircles.net

“We have hired a lawyer from Adoni district of Andhra Pradesh (77 km from Raichur) to file the bail petition for these six persons because no one from Raichur is ready to help even though they know that these men have been falsely accused. Not even the Muslim lawyers or Muslim leaders are coming out in their support. They feel if they support these men they too will be labelled as anti-national” he lamented.
Razak also narrated how the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) staged a roadblock in Maski, a village about 20 km from Talekhan village, in which they were demanding action against anti-India elements and were shouting anti-Pakistan slogans. But in their frenzy, they shouted Pakistan zindabad instead. And there were policemen present there who did not do anything.

“Granted they chanted Pakistan Zindabad in fervour, but had this mistake happened by Muslims would the police understand? Would they not arrest them immediately and charge them under treason?” He asked.

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Razak also narrated another incident in which the ABVP youth had targeted a lecturer in an Engineering college in Bijapur District of Karnataka for praising Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan in a post on social media.
 
The ABVP youth who were his students at the same college humiliated their teacher and did not relent till the lecturer Sandeep Wathar got down on his knees and apologised.

“But no action has been taken against these ABVP fellows in this case either. It is difficult for Muslims to even voice their opinions. Even if they don’t say anything, they are in trouble. Anyone can accuse you of having said something against India and get you arrested,” Razak added.
Advocate Niazi, from APCR Bangalore Chapter, said, “The resolution of the Raichur Bar Association to not defend the 6 men slapped with sedition charge is unconstitutional. It is the duty of a lawyer to defend a client whatever his/her crime may be. It is also a breach of the ethics of a lawyer. We can challenge their resolution and also file a case against the Bar.”

In the meantime, activists of APCR and other organisations wrote to the minority commission to intervene and following their intervention, the families were brought back to their homes in Talekhan village and a warning was given to the locals not to harass them.
The bail petition was filed on March 5 and was admitted. And it is now scheduled for 25th March for the Public prosecutor to file his objections, after which the principal district sessions judge will decide to grant the bail or not.

Due to pressure from civil rights groups like APCR and INSAF, the police finally arrested 9 persons who were vandalising the mosque. Earlier, the police had tried to brush off by saying that these men were absconding as these persons have support from a BJP MLA.

But members of Hindu Jagaran Vedika took out a protest in Lingsagur Tehsil demanding the release of the 9 arrested and submitted a petition to the Tehsildar on Monday 11th March.

However, the damage for the Muslim residents has already been done. Even if the six are released on bail, they will have to keep fighting a legal battle to prove themselves innocent.  For this, they will have to travel to 120 kilometres from their village to the District Court till the case goes on.

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Courtesy: Two Circle