FACT FINDING TEAM:
1. JS Walia
4. Shashank Singh
5. Atal Tiwari
6. Mohd. Faizan
7. Farrah Shakeb
8. Tahmina Laskar
On 30th May 2015 fact finding team sent on behalfKhudai Khidmatgar and SYS having 8 members reached Atali village in Haryana where communal clashes were reported on 25th May 2015. Around 40-50 policemen were guarding outside the village and going inside was prohibited generally. The fact finding team after specially requesting the Haryana Police DSP on duty we were allowed to go inside and have a stock of the situation.
The main issue for the clashes was around the construction of a mosque. The mosque was being constructed under police supervision and protection after a long standing legal battle which was opposed by the local people other than Muslims who are Jats mostly. This opposition escalated and caused the present clashes. This was the apparent cause of the happening.
However on digging deeper our fact finding team found out that the Jat community claims that the Muslims had pelted stones on them twice on the Jats on 24th May 2015. They go on claiming that some Muslim families under the influence of a few rich and powerful Muslims in fact burnt their own homes and even tried to burn an old man from their own community to create the impression that Jats were creating havoc and mayhem.
There is even confusion regarding the land on which the mosque is being constructed because while the Jats claim that there was no judgment in favour of construction of the Mosque in fact those who had filed a case against the construction had withdrawn the case. The Jats claim that the Masjid cannot be constructed in that very spot because it is panchayat land and that cannot be used for construction of religious structures. They add that the Muslims may build their mosque a little away from the spot and that would be a peaceful solution.
The Muslims on the other hand say that the Masjid is on Waqf property and that they have every right to construct the Masjid as they even have the civil court judgment in their favour. However nothing can be said with complete certainty about these claims by both the parties until we come across the contentious judgment's exact content.
The Muslims while narrating the events that unfolded that day say that almost five years back the Jat community had manhandled some "jamatis" (religious preachers) who came to Atali. The current scenario they say is an extension of those hostilities because at that time the Jats when were rounded up by the police they promised not to interfere or manhandle anyone from the Muslim community. They now took the advantage and chosen this time to attack Muslims on 25th May 2015 while they were performing namaz. There was stone pelting and bricks were thrown, around 18 homes were burnt, cars were burnt and there was massive loss of property. Two people were burnt badly and are now hospitalised.
Our fact finding team also sensed a political angle since it came out that one Prahlad contesting the Panchayat elections promised to help Muslims in constructing the Masjid if they vote for him. He in fact inaugurated the construction whichthen had led to communal tensions. Given the fact that there are almost 450-500 Muslim votes in the constituency of around 3000 and that the clashes happened just before the next panchayat elections are due this angle cannot be ignored.
Right now an FIR has been registered against 19 people by the affected victims but no arrests have been made as yet. A delegation from Minority Commission had visited the village and advised that individual complaints be filed after which around 70 complaints have been so far filed. In fact during the Commission's visit one accused was apprehended but later released. There was more arson and loot even after the Commission's visit the victims claim. As of now no arrests have been made and the affected victims (men, women and children) are in the Ballabhgarh thana (Police Station) premises and the administration is looking after their needs. The Muslims admit that local MLAs Tek Chand Sharma (BSP) have been helpful and is making efforts to regain peace however they are upset that there has been no help or statement issued from the CM and the Centre. They also are furious about the apathy regarding the media coverage of the issue.
The victims now want that they be assured security so that they could return home, they should be allowed to build their masjid on the very spot; that they be compensated adequately for the loss of property that they have suffered; the accused be apprehended and due action be initiated. They also allege that the SHO on duty that vey fateful day did not do his duty properly and that he be punished for dereliction of duty as well.
The current scenario demands the following solutions:
1. That the accused be arrested and the victims are compensated.
2. Both parties clarify through evidence the claims that they are making and after that reach an understanding which would be legally binding and acceptable on both parties.
3. A permanent peace committee be constituted to look after the affairs even when the dispute is settled. To also ensure that the peace committee meets regularly to find solutions.
4. Communal harmony be promoted by a few educated and wise people from both communities among villagers.
For further enquiries contact:
Tahmina Laskar/ Tabish Bhatti