New Delhi: A fact finding team that visited violence-hit Kasganj near Etah in Uttar Pradesh on February 2, in its report, released on Monday, says Muslims protected temples even as their properties were burnt and looted.
Raising serious questions over the state police's integrity and its role, not a single Hindu has been named in FIRs even as all reports said there were clashes in the town between both the communities.
Besides two mosques, the report highlighted that all 27 business establishments that were set on fire belonged to Muslims.
“No temple or Hindu property has been damaged,” it says.
“In fact, the Chamunda Temple, located in a Muslim-dominated area, was protected by Muslims of the area. There is an HP gas agency located behind the Chamunda Temple, and the Muslims protected that too,” the nine-page report says.
“Despite Muslim-owned establishments being in the line of fire of rampaging mobs, there was no police presence in predominantly Hindu localities. On the other hand, cops are manning Muslim neighbourhoods day in, day out,” the report says.
Violence erupted in Kasganj on Republic Day when Muslims who were celebrating the National Festival at Shaheed Abdul Hameed Chowk of the town were inturrepted by VHP and ABVP actvists. Holding saffron flags, the Hindutva activists came on motor-cycles. They were raising vande Matarama and anti-Muslim solgans.
The clashes ended up in the death of Chandan Gupta. Police later arrested sixteen Muslims, including, Salim Javed, a trader, for the murder of Gupta.
The fact finding team however raises questions on police’s claim that Chandan Gupta was shot dead by Salim.
“There are photos of Salim participating in a Republic Day celebration at 9:30 am at Ch. Mehdi Hasan School on Mulka Road. He left from there to collect his kids from school as soon as the news came of the confrontation at Abdul Hameed Chowk.
"So, he was not at the scene of the original confrontation, reportedly. Hence, locals argue, he had no run-in with Chandan and the group,” the Kasganj riot fact finding team says in its report.
The fact finding team also accused the local police of being biased against members of the Muslim community during the ongoing investigation.
“The way the police investigation is going on also reflects clear bias and prejudice and that is acting as a deterrent for people to come forward and lodge individual cases of assault and damage,” the report, Trail of Engineered Hate and Violence: Findings from a visit to Kasganj, says.
The fact finding team was led by retired IPS officer S. R. Darapuri and consisted senior journalists Amit Sengupta, Hasanul Banna and Aleemullah Khan, activists Rakhi Sehgal, Banojyotsna Lahiri, Khalid Saifi, Mohit Pandey and others.
The team also found that among those arrested or detained by police, Muslims are more than double in number that of Hindus despite the fact that no Hindu property was damaged or a temple desecrated whereas two mosques were completely burnt.
The fact finding team also expressed concern at the silence of political parties at the incident.
"No leader of any political party has reached out to the Muslim community, or the Hindu shopkeepers and locals, or tried to visit them and express solidarity even though messages were sent to them. There was no peace initiative by the political class...perhaps for fear of being labelled as minority appeasers," it said.
Concluding the report, the team said, "The ruling regime of center and UP are both going to engineer many such incidents of communal violence, polarization and hate mongering and targeting minorities in the days to come. The conscientious citizens must remain vigilant against such attempts and resist this nefarious ploy to communalize the country."
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