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Uttarakhand: Open Call for 'Muslim-Free Purola', but Why are Police, Govt Silent?

The situation in Uttarakhand is continuously deteriorating. Based on the communal incidents in Purola, the so-called Hindu outfits are trying to create anarchy in the entire hill state.
Uttarakhand: Open Call for 'Muslim-Free Purola', but Why are Police, Govt Silent?

Uttarakhand is turning into a laboratory of Hindutva. The position of the ruling party in the state has weakened of late, especially as protests by unemployed youth and for old pension scheme gather momentum.

The situation in Uttarakhand is continuously deteriorating. Based on the communal incidents in Purola, the so-called Hindu outfits are trying to create anarchy in the entire hill state.

On May 26, two youths and a minor girl were caught by some people in Purola. It was then said that the boys were Muslims and the girl was a Hindu. There were allegations that the girl was being abducted and taken to Vikas Nagar. It was later learned that one of the boys was a Hindu.

Reports that the boys were caught in Nagaon were also proved wrong later. In fact, the boys were surrounded by people near Purola itself, and the incident was soon given a ‘love jihad’ angle. Relatives of the girl were called on the spot. The police were informed about the alleged kidnapping of the girl and both the youths were handed over to the police. Both the boys are still in jail and the girl is at home.


In the event of an alleged crime, the police acted promptly and both the accused were arrested. The future course of action was to be done in accordance with law. But this did not happen. So-called Hindu outfits made it an issue and created such a communal situation that Muslims living in Purola had to flee the area in fear.

On May 28, a demonstration was held in Purola under the banner of an organisation called Hindu Raksha Abhiyan. Thousands of people participated in the demonstration. The slogan of ‘Muslim-Free Uttarakhand’ was raised. The Purola market was closed before the demonstration. Protesters later smashed the boards of shops belonging to the Muslim community in Purola. Many shops owned by Muslims were marked with black crosses.

Posters were pasted on these shops on behalf of the Hindu Raksha Abhiyan, addressing Muslims as ‘Jihadis’ who were asked to vacate Purola by June 15. The posters also warned Muslims that if they do not leave Purola by that date,  they would have to face consequences.

The estimated population of Purola is around 5,000. As per Census 2011, Purola is a large village in Uttarkashi district with a population of around 2,400. In the last decade, the process of people leaving villages and settling in the cities has increased across Uttarakhand. This is true for Purola, too. Several people from nearby villages came and settled in Purola in large numbers. As a result, it has now been given the status of Nagar Panchayat.

About 50 years ago, some Muslim families had moved to Purola. These families were mainly involved in the business of clothes and furniture. Later, some more Muslims from other areas of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh also moved here for various business reasons. At present, the population of Muslims in Purola is between 150 to 200. About 45 shops belong to the Muslim community.

After the May 28 incident, 42 Muslim shopkeepers left Purola overnight. Among them, there are seven who have completely winded up their business and left. All the people from the Muslim community working in these shops have also left Purola. At present, only six Muslim families are living in Purola, of which five have their own houses and one family has its own shop.


Ikram (name changed), a member of one of the families that stayed back, says his family has been living in Purola for the past 50 years. Ikram, 42, was also born in Purola and his children were also born there. He said “we have everything in Purola only.”

They do not have any house or property anywhere else. So, under no circumstances can they leave Purola, he added.

During the May 28 demonstration in Purola, the attitude of the administration was shocking. The miscreants were vandalising shops, pasting posters and threatening people to leave Purola, painting black crosses on shops, but the police were being active and firm everywhere. This is clearly visible in all the video clips that have flooded the social media.

Later, the police registered a case against unknown persons. But, so far no action has been taken against anyone. What is most shocking is that the protest was organise under the banner of Devbhoomi Raksha Abhiyan. The name of this organisation is also on the posters in Purola asking the Muslim community to vacate the area. This organisation and its people are unknown to the police, and no one has been arrested.

But, on the Facebook page of the same organisation, a person named Swami Darshan Bharti shares a picture of himself with the DGP (Director General of Police) of the state. In this picture, he writes that he met the DGP regarding ‘Love Jihad’ and told the police that it should not forcefully open Muslim shops in Purola.

Raising this issue, the state Secretary of CPI (ML) Indresh Maikhuri has written a letter to the DGP. In the letter, he has written that the Devbhoomi Raksha Abhiyan, which pasted posters in Purola, did so illegally and now was going to the police chief and asking them not to try and open shops.

Maikhuri pointed out that those who seek “opportunities to spread religious frenzy may not care about the law, but as a police chief, your priority is to maintain law and order.” He has questioned how the police chief could let such a person go scot free.

Meanwhile, hectic preparations are afoot for the so-called mahapanchayat of June 15 called by so-called Hindu organisations of Purola. These outfits are releasing videos and appealing to the people to reach Purola in maximum numbers. In some such videos, an attempt has also been made to incite people.

Many videos have also come to the fore, which, along with trying to spread hatred toward the Muslim community, praise the people of Purola “for driving away Muslims”. Despite all this, the police have not registered any case against any such person.

This is despite the fact that in the case of Uttarakhand, the Supreme Court has clearly ordered that the police should immediately take suo motu cognizance in the case of hate speeches, but the police seems to be continuously ignoring the top court’s orders. No action has been taken so far to stop the June 15 mahapanchayat against the Muslim community.

All that has happened so far is that due to continuous pressure, on June 12, the District Magistrate and Senior Superintendent of Police  of Uttarkashi reached Purola and took feedback from the people. Both of them also interacted with the people of the minority community left there and assured them of security. According to reports, both the officers also held talks with the people regarding the proposed mahapanchayat on June 15.

On June 12 itself, the DGP of the district gave instructions to the officers under him, including asking them to immediately file a case on hate speech, as per the Supreme Court order. However, so far, there is no indication on barring the mahapanchayat. Even after the continuous release of hate speech videos by so-called Hindu outfits, no case has been filed against anyone so far.

However, political observers believe that the administration and the police were just going through formalities. In the midst of the Purola controversy, when the Chief Minister himself has used words like ‘land jihad’ and ‘love jihad’ twice at different places in Uttarkashi, there is not much left for the administration and the police to do.

If we look at what is going on in Purola, it can be said that the situation is very serious and the poison of hatred has gone deep. People talking about communal harmony are keeping silent, while those in support of ‘Muslim-free Purola’ are vocal and are coming forward openly, and do not care about law.

Various hateful stories are also being spread to whip up anti-Muslim sentiments, such as they are bringing impotence creams, lotions etc. for men. One person even leveled allegations of beef smuggling in Purola under the protection of the police. When a shopkeeper was asked whether in the last 50 years, any Muslim had committed any criminal act or was there any such complaint about anyone, he said that till now there were hidden complaints. However, he could not recall a single complaint, when asked.

An important question is: what happened all of a sudden in Purola for disharmony between the two communities who have been living harmoniously for years. The fact is that Uttarakhand is being turned into a laboratory of Hindutva in recent times. This is because the position of the ruling party in the state has weakened in recent years. Especially, as the movement of unemployed students is gathering steam and a continuous movement is also going on regarding bringing back the old pension scheme. Lathis have been used against the unemployed and continuous efforts are being made to crush the movement regarding the old pension scheme.

Both these movements have created a big rift in the political ground of the ruling BJP, which feels that the only way out of this and getting votes is by creating a communal rift and instilling fear in the name of the  very small number of Muslims in the state. The BJP won the last Assembly elections with a similar strategy.

The local shopkeepers of Purola added fuel to fire in this anti-Muslim tirade. Some say that since local business is not doing well, some local shopkeepers are trying to drive away Muslim shopkeepers from Purola. It is also alleged that this is also the main reason for giving weight to the case of alleged kidnapping of a minor. It is alleged that it is some of these shopkeepers who called the Devbhoomi Raksha Abhiyan at Purola and on this pretext and got the markets closed at many other places along with Purola.

The writer is an independent journalist based in Uttarakhand. The views are personal.

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