Ram Navami Violence In Bihar Was Preplanned, Police Must Be held Accountable, says APCR (India Tomorrow)

NEW DELHI–“Recent violence during Ram Navami in Bihar, specifically in Bihar Sharif and Sasaram, was preplanned and concurrent. Police must be held accountable and the Hindu community should take initiative to prevent their children from participating in such violence.”

These are some of the key observations of a report prepared by a fact-finding a team of the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR).

The APCR team comprised Advocate Mohammad Moboshshir Aneeq, Senior Journalist Prashant Tandon, Advocate Saiful Islam, Social Activist Gulrez Anjum, Advocate Nasiquz Zaman, Social Activist Mohammad Zahid, and Akbar.

The team members expressed concern over the preplanned violence during Ram Navami in Bihar, the lack of implementation of directives, the issue of Islamophobia, and the need for fact-finding and political action to address the violence and promote secularism.

In a press release, APCR said that Ram Navami had a dark and long history of inciting communal violence and harming the social fabric of the nation. It said that this year, Bihar Sharif and Sasaram witnessed some of the worst violence during Ram Navami processions, as mobs attacked the properties of Muslims and set their homes on fire.

According to the press note, “On March 30, 2023, the Shobha Yatra procession passed without escalating into severe violence. However, on March 31, 2023, the situation turned grotesque as the crowd brandished swords and played vulgar communal songs, provoking the Muslim community during Friday prayers.”

“The violence intensified when the crowd set fire to the 100-year-old Azizia Madarsa, destroying 4500 books. Local shops and vendors also suffered significant property losses. In Bihar Sharif alone, it is estimated that 60,000 people participated in Shobha yatra and eyewitnesses have also alleged that CCTV cameras were removed a few days prior to the violence near Gagan Diwan Petrol Pump”, said APCR report.

The APCR team visited the affected area to investigate the matter and recorded the testimonies of families who sustained injuries and suffered financial loss.

The fact-finding team alleged a complete failure of the state machinery and gathered information on how Bajrang Dal members hoisted their flags atop religious places of Muslims.

The report says that though it was done in the presence of the police but “it (the police) did nothing to stop them.”

The team was told by other witnesses that the police arrived five to six hours after the violence started, and despite a peace meeting held a few days before Ram Navami, the administration failed to comply with the agreed-upon directives.

The report puts forth several recommendations, urging the state government to compensate the victims of violence who have lost their livelihood and shelter and were severely attacked by Bajrang Dal goons.

At a press conference, fact-finding team member and senior journalist Prashant Tandon observed that the recent violence during Ram Navami in Bihar, specifically in Bihar Sharif and Sasaram, was preplanned and concurrent.

He said that in 2018, similar violence occurred, but that was controlled relatively quickly by following directives from the peace committee, such as avoiding provocative songs and weapons, which were approved by the administration.

Advocate Mobashshir Aneeq noted that there was a lack of on-ground implementation of the peace committee’s directives unlike it was done in 2018. He highlighted that the violence caused significant damage, and questioned the silence of local politicians and the biased actions of the police.

Journalist Bhasha Singh emphasized the importance of fact-finding to counter fake news and highlighted the planned nature of the violence, expressing concern over the lack of accountability of those responsible, including politicians. She also mentioned the festivals are being used for political gain and the potential radicalization of unemployed youth.

Social Activist John Dayal highlighted the issue of Islamophobia, stating that it is a ticking time bomb that is destroying the country. He mentioned instances of schools and communities promoting Islamophobia, and the need for secularism and political action to counter the violence. He also stressed the importance of fact-finding and detoxifying the community from hatred.

Delhi University Professor Apoorvanand mentioned that Ram Navami processions in Bihar had been used as a weapon to incite violence against Muslims, with reports showing a pattern of destruction of Muslim homes and businesses. He said, “Police must be held accountable and the Hindu community should take initiative to prevent their children from participating in such violence.”

Senior Journalist Urmilesh pointed out that Bihar was not an exception in cases of violence during festivals, particularly Ram Navami processions. He highlighted that the lack of efforts by the administration and political polarization contributed to the problem. He expressed his disappointment that weapons were bought and used. He said that better political efforts were needed to control such violence.

Senior Supreme Court advocate Sanjay Hedge opined that private reports might not have an immediate impact, but they contributed to a long-term change. He said that change was needed not only in Bihar but across the country to achieve peace and liberty…

This story was originally published in indiatomorrow.net. Read the full story here

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