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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 30, New Delhi, July 11, 2020

What’s Become of My Uttar Pradesh!

Saturday 11 July 2020, by Humra Quraishi

MUSINGS - July 7, 2020

Guns and gun battles! Land mafia ruling and overruling the political mafia, together with the police force! The latest, of course, the gunning down of eight policemen by gangster, Vikas Dubey.

Violence and anarchy is spreading out in the State of Uttar Pradesh, together with polarization and divides. Decay and deterioration hits. Many of the mofussil towns described as living hells.

Killings of civilians have been on, in recent years, by gangsters and also by the policemen! Encounters and counter encounters! Hundreds targeted. With little accountability and nil transparency to those targeted killings.

Writ large, a failed infrastructure. And in the midst of that, men and women somehow contained. How? By unleashing communal and caste divides! With that, the hapless masses left with just about no means to question the rulers of the day.

As a veteran quipped, “You can judge for yourself what’s become of Uttar Pradesh. What deterioration has taken place…Earlier it produced political giants like Motilal Nehru and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. But in these recent times, the BJP flaunted the likes of N.D. Tewari, better known for the controversies around all those objectionable doings!”

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Nah, no full-fledged pogrom in Uttar Pradesh, because that would rob the Right-Wing government the opportunity to hoodwink the masses with one-liners: See, how peacefully we are containing all possible creatures from all possible castes and communities! We are sparing each one of them! See, how well we’re implementing ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikas’!

But an atmosphere of fear cum helplessness prevails amongst the masses and amongst the minority community. Writ large when the anti-CAA protests took off in several towns of Uttar Pradesh. The police atrocities and brutalities on the unarmed protestors were so horrifying that it got difficult to even view those shots of policemen barging into Muslim homes, assaulting, ransacking homes. Targeting even the places of worship- the Masjids!

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In fact, right from the time of the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as chief minister of the state, the minority community has been very fearful and extremely apprehensive. Yogi Adityanath’s interviews and speeches and his comments on the Waqf lands, were adequate enough to relay what could unfold…what would become of Uttar Pradesh! What could become of the alive Muslims and also of the dead — Not to be overlooked the fact that a majority of Muslim graveyards are situated on Waqf lands…Apprehensions and fears amongst the community that the dead could be unsettled.
One didn’t have to dissect Yogi Adityanath’s dislike for the Muslims. It came across stark, in each one of his comments! In the State Assembly he commented that he does not celebrate Eid, because he is a proud Hindu! Is he a chief minister of a democratic state or that of a Hindu rashtra!

Yogi Adityanath’s government in Uttar Pradesh also scrapped two significant public holidays: Jamat -ul- Alvida ( last Friday of the month of Ramazan) and also that of Eid Milad-ul- Nabi ( birthday of Prophet Mohammad).

And in the backdrop of the anti- Muslim stand, his Hindutva style of functioning stood out rather too blatantly. How else could one explain Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, holding a cabinet meeting with his ministers, whilst taking a dip in the Ganga during the Kumbh Mela of 2019? How else could one explain several offices resembling mini-mandirs? How else could one explain that several official inaugurations or sarkari take offs, take place in accordance with the religious rituals …Yes, all this taking place in a democratic republic!
Added to this, chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s directions to the Uttar Pradesh police, that Janamasthami celebrations were to be held in all Police lines. No, he didn’t come out with similar directions, for the celebration of Christmas or Eid in the police lines and police stations of the State.
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What baffles political commentators is the fact that though there were serious criminal cases against Yogi Adityanath yet he sits placed up there, on the chief minister’s chair. Winning election after election. Not a squeak in terms of revolt or outcry against this man’s appointment.

Apprehensions had come up on other fronts too. Though there had been no closure to the Muzaffarnagar riots in Western Uttar Pradesh, yet the two main accused of those riots, BJP’s Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana, were declared elected in the 2017 elections. Serious charges of rioting against these politicians yet they were to be ruling over hundreds of the hapless Muslims, after they were hounded out of their ancestral villages, homes, lands.

Also, two years back news-reports had stated that the Yogi Adityanath’s government sought information and opinion from the district magistrate and also the superintendent of police of Muzaffarnagar, on the possibility of withdrawing nine cases against the accused BJP politicians booked in the Muzzffarnagar riots of 2013. To quote from one of the news reports,“ In the January 5 letter to the district magistrate, Uttar Pradesh Department of Justice Special Secretary Raj Singh has sought information on 13 points, including whether the cases could be withdrawn in public interest. The letter also sought the opinion of the Senior Superintendent of Police …Though the leaders have not been named in the letter, the file numbers pertaining to the cases against them have been mentioned in it.”

The cases were filed against U.P. Minister Suresh Rana, former Union Minister Sanjiv Balyan, Bijnor MP Bhartendu Singh, Budhana MLA Umesh Malik and party leader Sadhvi Prachi.

This blatant step, when the accused have been facing charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for violating prohibitory orders, deterring public servants from discharging their duties and wrongful restraint. Also the vital fact that these accused had participated in a “mahapanchayat” and incited violence through their speeches in the last week of August 2013. The communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas in August and September 2013 had claimed more than 60 lives while over 40,000 people were displaced.

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Another dark reality that emerged from Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar was that of young girls from the minority community, kidnapped and forcibly converted and even married into Hindu households. Though this had been ongoing for the last few years, yet the Yogi government did not appoint any special squad to nab the goons kidnapping Muslims girls in his own constituency of Kushinagar!

In fact, in January 2017 journalist Shweta Desai wrote a detailed feature in the DNA, ‘Reverse love jihad surfaces in U.P’, focusing on this alarming trend in Eastern Uttar Pradesh…In fact, months before this feature was published, news reports had been focusing on these kidnappings and forced conversions in that region.

To quote from a report of the fact-finding team of the All India Muslim Majlis-e- Mushawarat, that travelled to Kushinagar district in Eastern UP and brought out their report in 2016 - . “Reports of large-scale rapes and kidnappings of Muslim girls, sometimes as young as 12 years, are true. These criminal incidents started on a large-scale since 2013. Most of the kidnapped or lured girls remain untraced while some are known to be living as Hindus. According to girls who have managed to flee from the clutches of their kidnappers, it has emerged that they were lured under various pretexts or snatched away from their villages. They were taken to distant places and temples where they were raped, forced to undergo shuddhi (purification) and then married forcibly to Hindu boys. Girls who have managed to return are threatened and attempts are made to kidnap them again. The few who had the courage to go public and lodge complaints with the police, are harassed and threatened with the connivance of the local police and administration which threatens the victims and files counter cases against them under SC/ST and Goonda Acts as a pressure tactic to force the victims to withdraw their complaints and cases. In one such case, Muhammad Haneef of village Dharmauli, father of a victim girl, collapsed and died in the office of the CO due to dire threats and filthy abuses…”

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With such level of violence continuing and spreading out in the State of Uttar Pradesh, one can well imagine the plight of the citizens of that state. They sit at the mercy of the State might and whatever comes along with it.

( end of the column - HUMRA QURAISHI )

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