Nearly 200 Muslims have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) after communal clashes took place between two communities during Durga idol procession on October 20 in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh.
As per a recent fact-finding report by members of the Rihai Manch and Nationl Confederation of Human Rights Organisation (NCHRO), on October 20, 2018, a procession from four-five villages for immersion of a Durga idol turned violent at Khaira Bazar. The violence saw deliberate damage to Muslim shops and households in the presence of police, so much so that almost all Muslim families in the area had to flee, the reports said.
Most of the men and young women fled from the village on October 20 and have not returned yet. Police has raided, threatened, ransacked and damaged the households thrice since that day -- all at night -- with only male personnel, even in houses where only elderly women and children are left. The police action has violated the rights of the citizens and spread terror among them, the report added.
Newsclick approached the Khaira Bazar sarpanch Umesh but he declined to speak, but said that the people who had fled were returning home and everything was 'normal' now.
Amit Srivastva, an advocate and member of the fact-finding team with NCHRO, said, "This incident happened on October 20 when more than 200 people on five to six tractor trolleys were taking out a 'Shobha Yatra' and threw colour inside the mosque premises and on people standing in front of mosque. We found in our fact-finding report that the police administration was hiding the evidence," adding that "it was shocking for me to see 80 Muslim youth being named and more than hundred unknown people (all Muslims) slapped with UAPA (anti-terror law) by the Bahraich police."
Srivastava said Muslims of Khaira bazar were living in fear and most of the youth had fled area the day the police raided their houses. "Forty people have been arrested so far and they are mostly poor people working at puncture shops or running a paan shops. When we spoke to Superintendent of police (SP) he replied that he joined few days back, so he was not aware of the UAPA. But he assured us that he would look into the matter again," he added.
Srivastvasaid he had visited the mosque and Khaira Bazar and saw "colour inside the mosque with our own eyes." This when the clashed started, he said, adding that the complainant, Ashish Kumar Shukla, named 80 Muslims with their father's names in the FIR and mentioned that three Hindu people were injured during the clashes, but did not name the three. "He can recall the names of 80 people and their father's names, but does not remember the names of the three people. This is strange", he added.