Day after attack, chaos at mosque in Sonepat village. Allegations of ‘conspiracy’ add to tensions (The Print)

Mosque in Sandal Kalan village allegedly attacked around 9.30 pm during prayer time, amid Ramzan festivities. 16 people arrested so far.


Sonepat: Prayer mats scattered, switchboards broken, decorations lying on the floor. A day after it was allegedly vandalised by an armed mob, a scene of pure chaos awaited visitors at a mosque in village Sandal Kalan of Haryana’s Sonepat.

The mosque — a small room inside a house, which can accommodate around 20-30 people at a time — was allegedly attacked around 9.30 pm during prayer time, amid Ramzan festivities.

According to some witness accounts, over a dozen men armed with lathis and knives barged into the small mosque, which caters to the roughly 20 Muslim households of the village.

Police have arrested 16 of the 19 people accused in the case.

The charges invoked include sections 148 (whoever is guilty of rioting, armed with deadly weapon shall be punished), 149 (unlawful assembly), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 295-A (deliberate and malicious intention of outraging religious feelings), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 452 (house trespass having made preparation for causing hurt) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation).

Sonepat police commissioner B. Satheesh Balan described the attack as “unprovoked”.

“We are investigating the matter. The attack was carried out by anti-social elements in the village. We can’t let such incidents take place. This will be dealt with strictly,” he added.

For many of the Muslim residents of the village, the attack — which came three years after a mosque loudspeaker is said to have ignited tensions in Sandal Kalan — was unprecedented.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” said Saleem Khan, 45, of the attack. “My great-grandfather lived in this village and this is the first time I witnessed violence of this kind.”…

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