Eleven days after a communal violence in Kasganj, the man behind the “unauthorised” ‘Tiranga Yatra’, which sparked tensions in the western Uttar Pradesh’s town, is still on the run. Surprisingly, of the 11 first information reports (FIRs) filed in connection with the riots that took place on Republic Day (January 26) in which 21-year-old Chandan Gupta was killed and three others suffered injuries, he has not even been named in any one of them.
Vishal Thakur, who had given the call for the tricolour procession, can be seen sitting with Gupta on a motorbike in an exclusive footage accessed by Newsclick. Both Thakur and Gupta can be seen at the forefront of heated arguments with a group of Muslims at Veer Abdul Hamid crossing in the minority community concentrated Baddu Nagar.
They along with others – in the 1.46-minute video clip – can also be seen shouting objectionable slogans such as ‘Hindustan Mein Rahna Hoga, Toh Vande Mataram Kahna Hoga’ (if one wants to stay in India, he or she will have to chant Vande Mataram). Muslim youths, in response, can be heard chanting ‘Godse, Murdabad’ (down with Nathuram Godse – a right-wing advocate of Hindu nationalism who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi).
The violence began after a youth, allegedly a participant of the controversial ‘Tiranga Yatra’ hit a Muslim boy. This is clearly visible in the video.
Thakur organised the ‘yatra’ and had posted a 44-second video – also in possession of Newsclick – on his Facebook page on January 24, asking youths to join the rally.
The young man is said to have good connections with local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders. He can be seen in his photos – posted on his Facebook page – standing with senior leaders of the saffron party and its legislators.
When asked about Thakur’s role in inciting the violence in which several shops and religious places of the Muslim community were gutted, Kasganj Superintendent of Police Piyush Srivasatav said they are probing into the matter and trying to ascertain his role in the clashes.
Ripudaman Singh, Kasganj Kotwali station officer who had filed five FIRs in the case and did not mention Thakur’s name in any of them, gave a bizarre reply when asked why no FIR has been filed against him, “We did not file any FIR against Thakur because no complaint has been lodged against him.”
“He is absconding and a manhunt is on to nab him,” he added.
So far, there is allegedly no action against those who took out the ‘Tiranga Yatra’ without police permission that triggered the riots. “Many Muslim homes were locked and families had fled, especially, with those having young males in the family. There is still no record of how many families or individuals have fled the town,” said a report released on January 5 by a fact-finding team comprising ex-IG (UP police) SR Darapuri, senior journalist Amit Sen Gupta and Rakhi Sehgal and the members of a campaign ‘United Against Hate’.
The violence began on January 26 and continued till January 31 despite heavy police presence in the city.