Hyderabad: On March 7, Bhainsa town in Telangana’s newly formed Nirmal district reportedly witnessed the seventh incident of communal violence since 1992 between the members of religious majority and minority communities.
What followed was massive deployment of about 525 police personnel, ban on internet services and imposition of section 144 of CrPC for the next five days. The police haave arrested 38 persons belonging to both the communities so far and said that they are on the lookout for 70 others who are allegedly involved in the violence.
As Bhainsa awaits for communal harmony and normalcy to return to the town, the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have called upon their party members, seemingly to politicise the issue.
According to local newspapers, amid sudden curfew, the residents of the small town struggled to buy vegetables and milk and other items of daily use, as most of the shops were shut down during the last one week.
Addressing media persons on Tuesday, March 16, Y Nagi Reddy, Inspector-General (North Zone), said that a total of 26 cases have been registered in connection to the violence in which most of the accused are members of the Hindu Vahini.
“People belonging to one group were informed, gathered, and were sent to places under the guidance of Abdul Khabeer alias Baba, AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) party’s Counsellor from 15th ward. The second group was led by Thota Vijay, Counsellor from 8th Ward and ex-president of Hindu Vahini. Some of the arsons committed on the second and the third day and night in the Pardi and Mahagaon villages were led by Santhosh, who is the district president of Hindu Vahini,” said Reddy.
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The incident started over a trivial fight between two youngsters from the majority community and a youth belonging to the minority community on the night of March 7.
Reportedly, 12 persons including three police officers and a journalist were injured in stone pelting on that night. According to the police, during the communal clashes, four houses, thirteen shops, four autorickshaws, six four-wheelers, and five two-wheelers were set ablaze by the rioters.
While Hindu Vahini, a fringe group associated with the BJP, and the AIMIM are involved in the incident, for the last one week, BJP has been allegedly politicising the issue while the AIMIM head Asaduddin Owaisi urged the state government to resolve the issue. The saffron party leaders were seen in the media making statements such as ‘Hindus’ are in danger and accusing the police of being in nexus with the state government by favouring the other community.
On Tuesday, BJP state president Bandi Sanjay visited the arrested Hindu Vahini members and extended his support to them. Addressing to the media reports, he claimed that the police have threatened the Hindu Vahini members in custody and that he will report the case to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Further, Sanjay also called upon his party members to hold protests over the sensitive issue.
On the other side, the ruling party ministers have appealed to the people to not to fall for misinformation and BJP’s campaign around the incident.
Observers point that communal tension has been haunting Bhainsa town for decades and both BJP and AIMIM are sustaining their politics around such incidents of violence.
“The increasing activities of right wing fringe and fanatic groups has been continuously disturbing the communal harmony in Bhainsa,” said Viplav, state president of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI). He added that the BJP’s politics is becoming clearer in the state with its polarising campaign over the incident.
Last year in January, AIMIM won the Bhainsa Municipality, with 15 wards out of 26 in the urban local body polls while the BJP won in 9 wards leaving 2 for independent candidates.
Two weeks before the local body polls, communal clashes erupted in the town in which 19 people including 12 police personnel were injured. At that time, BJP leaders had accused AIMIM and the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi of targeting ‘Hindus’.
In horrifying incident in October 2008, nine people including six members from a Muslim family were killed in the neighbouring village of Vatoli during clashes and riots between the members of the two communities.