By Waquar Hasan
PURNIA, Bihar – Hindutva activists are working overtime to exploit an incident of violence involving Muslims and Dalits that resulted in the death of a security guard and setting on fire of 13 houses belonging to the Dalit community in a village of this district.
While Hindutva forces are claiming this to be a communal incident and spreading rumours of rape and abductions, local administration as well as Muslim leadership are rejecting any such claim.
On 19 May, a group of around 100 people attacked the Maha Dalit (extremely backward) community, beat them up and set on fire their houses in Majhua village of the Baisi area which falls under Purnia district. During the attack, a security guard was also killed.
Talking to Clarion India about the incident, AIMIM MLA Syed Ruknuddin, who represents Baisi constituency, said that the issue is related to an old land dispute. There is no communal angel in that. The incident happened because of the administration’s apathy and inaction.
“There is nothing communal about this issue. A minor issue has been blown out of proportion. It’s a land dispute which had also occurred in 2015. Dalit families were allocated the land but the administration failed to transfer the ownership to them,” said Ruknuddin, who visited the victim’s families and condemned the incident.
Ever since the land was allocated to the Dalit families, people living around them have been protesting because it was going to block their way. “The administration should have carved out a pathway. It was the responsibility of the local administration. But they were negligent,” he said.
According to him, there is no communal tension in the area. People are living peacefully. But there are some vested interests who are trying to stoke communal feelings.
“Activists from RSS-BJP, Shiv Sena and Hindu Jagran Manch are coming from outside and spoiling peace and amity of the area. They are descending in the area in large numbers. I have asked the administration to put a ban on their visits,” he said.
He said his party stood with the victim families and urged the administration to give them compensation and provide money to build their houses under the government’s housing scheme called Indira Awas Yojna.
On Sunday, BJP MP Pradeep Kumar, who represents Purnia’s neighboring district Araria, made a statement on Facebook about the incident accusing Muslims of persecuting Dalits.
Hindutva supporters raised the issue on social media presenting it as a communal incident. Rumour of rape and abduction is also being spread. The local administration has dispelled the rumour by issuing a statement. The administration also denied the report of a missing child. It said that on receiving a complaint in this regard they investigated the matter and found that the child was with his guardian.
“A rumor has been spread on social media about a community that the accused had come from outside. In this regard, we want to make it clear that both parties are local residents,” the statement added.
The administration also said that three FIRs have been filed in the case and two accused have been held. The police are raiding to arrest other accused.
13 victim family members were given compensation of Rs. 9,800 and 50,000 each family. 2 Lakhs of ex-gratia were announced for each person who was named in the FIR as a victim according to SC/ST act. Ex-gratia 8.25 lakh was announced for the deceased security guard Nawalal Rai, out of which around lakh was approved to give to the family member of the victim. Rest of the amount will be provided to them after the chargsheet is filed.
Victim family members are also being provided ration. They will be the beneficiary of the government’s pension plan and housing plan.
This story first appeared on clarionindia.net