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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 39, September 14, 2013

On Communal Eruption in Western UP

Sunday 15 September 2013, by Humra Quraishi

MUSINGS

I was born in Uttar Pradesh and spent my childhood and those carefree teenaged years in that State. I have travelled to those remote villages and locales because my father, an engineer by profession, would be particular that the family—amma and my siblings and I—tagged along travelling in that open jeep or in our Baby Hindustan car. And during those long summer vacations my maternal grandfather would take out his Dodge from the garage … my cousins and I sitting stuffed in that big-bodied car, travelling along those locales and stretches of my home State.

We had travelled through Western UP’s Muzaffarnagar and the adjoining belt. Not once. But on several occasions. I can still recall that familiar sight: sprawling sugarcane fields, dozens of workers on the fields, several zamindars/farmers walking about in that supervising mood. No, not one bit of tension and no question of caste or creed or communal hatred. We’d spend hours here and there, even travel late nights and it seemed all so very perfect. No mention of who is a Yadav or a Jat or a Musalmaan or a Brahmin.

That rupturing, those intrusions, began from the early nineties and the communal situation has been worsening over the recent years. The virus spreading, totally unleashed and uncon-trolled. In fact, around 2007 or 2008, at a SAARC writers meet at Agra, I’d asked the New Delhi-based historian, Rifaqat Ali, details of the ground situation in and around that belt. I’d asked him this because he is from rural Aligarh and his brief reply carried volumes: “The fact is this: only a Jat or a Yadav can have the confidence to write his name together with that of his community atop his vehicle. For a Musalmaan it will spell death or doom. He dare not flaunt his name especially in an unknown area/locale...” And on another occasion, an academic, who belongs to Western Uttar Pradesh, told me that though his wife wears a burqa or a hijab, but when they are travelling homeward he finds it unsafe. “It is prudent not to ‘look’ like a Musalmaan, for your vehicle could be stopped and damaged and you could be attacked …anything could happen.”

If you were to ask the obvious: What about the cops—the government-appointed so-called saviours—for the law-abiding citizens? The answer to this query is not just along the simplistic corruption format. It is far too complex. At the constable level they are said to be recruited along the caste-cum-creed format, so they act or attack or not attack along the obvious patterns. A Yadav Minister or Chief Minister would be more than tempted to stuff in as many Yadavs into this force. A Jat Minister would do likewise, and the same holds true for those others from those varying castes and creeds… In fact, it could be an interesting study to know the exact percentage of cops vis-a-vis the community format.

And this time this communal eruption is not getting controlled. It is spreading to villages and qasbas and towns of Western Uttar Pradesh. The whys to this are getting compli-cated by the day. For one, the role of the Right-wing goons. Narendra Modi’s aide Amit Shah, is said to be turning Uttar Pradesh into another Gujarat, using divisive politics as the basic strategy. The fact stands out that till date—September 10, the day of my filing this column—the BJP MLA from that particular area, Sangeet Som, has not been arrested and thrown into some hell-hole. He is the same politician who uploaded the fake video and with that saw to it that hundreds sit affected for years, for generations, for ever.

Ironical, isn’t it—that the same belt of Western Uttar Pradesh, which had seen the start to the very ouster of the British from our land with the Mutiny of 1857, is today witnessing sheer anarchy! Havoc along the partitioning format. Yes, in this ongoing rioting hundreds from the minority community have had to run from their native villages. Fleeing, leaving behind their homes, cattle, ancestral land and the dead.

What happens next? A thick skinned politician or an absolute fool might come on the small screen and quip: ‘All’s getting okay!’ It’s okay, only 37 dead and another hundred injured, and another hundred seen fleeing. Situation under control …Arrests to be made later. What to do, the four accused BJP men have gone underground. How to catch them!

But even the so-called experts know that this communal tension was brewing for months. To be nearer precision, was allowed to brew, till that appropriate time reached, for that well-planned eruption. Questions that hit: What was the police doing or undoing together with the IB inputs? What about the Akhilesh Yadav Government’s role? Even if the duo, Akhilesh and Mulayam, cry it’s all a Right-wing cons-piracy to sabotage their rule, the big question is: why didn’t their police force act?

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