Two months have passed since a mosque in Jamua village under Dhaka block in East Champaran district was allegedly attacked by persons involved in a procession after the BJP candidate’s victory, however, the police is yet to make a major headway into the case.
Aggrieved Muslims have alleged that most of those who attacked the mosque still roam free and have been threatening them but the police have not been able to make any arrests.
Local resident Nizamuddin, who had lodged a written complaint at the Dhaka police station, told NewsClick: “On January 9, we were called to the police station to give our testimony. There we were asked if some of the accused named in the FIR (first information report) were innocent. We had clearly stated that they were all involved in the attack on the mosque. I may die but I will not lie.”
Mazhar Alam, another witness and the secretary of the mosque that was attacked, accused the police of inaction and said that he felt political pressure was at play in this case.
“We are very upset. Most of those whose names have been registered in the FIR have not been arrested. They are roaming freely. They are threatening us with violence again. They say that nothing will happen even if the case is filed because the ‘police is ours, the court is ours’,” Alam told NewsClick.
About the meeting held at the police station on January 9, Alam said, “The police officers asked us in the meeting if there was anyone who was innocent among the persons named in the FIR.”
“We told them that none of them were innocent but that many of the miscreants’ names were left out. The mosque was attacked by 400 to 500 people but only around 30 persons were named in the FIR,” he added.
With the panchayat elections due this year Alam said that the attack was a bid to polarise Hindu voters. Umakant Tiwari, another local, alleged that members of the Muslim community attacked the mosque themselves to polarise Muslim voters.
The panchayat of Jamua falls under Dhaka assembly constituency and is around 160 kms away from Patna. About 55% of the population is Hindu and the rest is made up of Muslims. The mosque is located in ward number 3 of Jamua panchayat. Around 90% of the population of this ward, according to the local people, is made up of Hindus.
RJD leader Faisal Rahman was elected from the Dhaka assembly constituency in the 2015 state elections. In 2020, BJP leader Pawan Kumar Jaiswal defeated him by nearly 10,000 votes.
A victory procession was subsequently taken out by BJP workers in the evening of November 10, a day after the counting for the assembly elections was held.
The procession turned violent near the mosque which was allegedly vandalised. At least four persons – all Muslims – were injured.
“People involved in the procession entered the mosque at around 6 pm and broke the gate, window panes and the mic, chanting the slogan Jai Shree Ram,” according to the written complaint submitted by Nizamuddin to the Dhaka police station and accessed by NewsClick.
The complaint mentioned that the accused named in the FIR started pelting stones at the mosque and at the houses of members of the Muslim community who were also abused. The complaint mentions that members of the mob were saying that Muslims should be locked inside the mosque.
According to the complaint, some of those involved in the procession had firearms and that three Muslims were beaten with the butts of the firearms.
Based on the written application, the police registered an FIR under sections 147, 148, 149, 448, 341, 323, 337, 307, 153A, 295 (A) and 427 of the Indian Penal Code and under Section 27 of the Arms Act.
Primary Accused has BJP Connections
On November 10, police had arrested two accused – Pawan Kumar and Vinay Kumar –s who were named in the FIR.
Two days after their meeting with the police officers, main accused Devendra Tiwari was nabbed on the night of January 12. Tiwari was leading the procession, according to the locals.
Shivaji Singh, SHO (station house officer) of Dhaka police station, told NewsClick: “We raided the house and arrested him. Action is being taken to arrest the other accused.”
Devendra Tiwari is a close relative of BJP's East Champaran district president Umakant Tiwari. Umakant is the husband of Shanti Devi, the mukhiya or panchayat chief of Jamua.
Umakant Tiwari confirmed to NewsClick that Devendra was his relative but added that he did not hold any post within the BJP. “He is a normal worker,” Umakant said.
Contrary to claims made by the masjid secretary and complainant, Umakant Tiwari said that the people leading the procession had not attacked the mosque. He told NewsClick: “The victory procession was peaceful everywhere, but why did all this happen near the mosque? The people involved in the procession did not pelt any stones at the mosque, but those people (Muslims) themselves vandalised the mosque and they succeeded in convincing the administration that the attack was carried out by the people who were part of the victory march.”
Advocate Shatrughan Singh, who is contesting the case on behalf of the victims, told NewsClick, “The two accused who were arrested earlier had applied for bail three times but it was rejected. This shows the gravity of the case.”
Applications for anticipatory bail were filed on behalf of the 29 other accused named in the FIR, including Devendra Tiwari. “We will keep opposing their bail,” Singh said.
“Devendra Tiwari’s name had also come up in communal incidents prior to this one. We are procuring verified documents related to those incidents,” said Singh.
“All the accused should have been arrested by now, but more than two dozen accused are still out of police custody. The police are definitely lax in the investigation,” he added.
‘We are Working in a Very Difficult Situation’
At the time the mosque was attacked, Abhay Kumar was the SHO of Dhaka police station. He was shunted out in the last week of December for his alleged role in an old case and Shivaji Singh was made new SHO.
On the allegations of delayed action in the case, Shivaji Singh told NewsClick: “I am not going to comment on whether action has been late or not but I can say that we are taking action in the case.”
“This is not a normal case. You know what kind of atmosphere we live in. We are working in a very difficult situation,” said a policeman at the station on the condition of anonymity.
The writer is a freelance journalist based in Bihar.