Kisganj police detain, deport rights team

By Matters India Reporter

New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh police on January 6 detained and then deported a team from Delhi that went to Kisganj to sympathize with families affected by recent sectarian violence.

“We had come in yesterday, had interviewed families from all local communities in the night and were just about leaving the brand new and sprawling district jails when the authorities caught up with us,” John Dayal, a member of the All India People’s Forum Team, wrote on his Facebook page as he left Kisganj that witnessed violence on January 26, the nation’s Republic Day.

Hindu radicals reportedly tried to disrupt a Republic Day flag celebration by Muslim youth in their locality Baddu Nagar. In fracas later, a Hindu boy was shot dead, a Muslim youth injured.

Several shops belonging to Muslims were torched and mosques were either torched or ransacked following the violence that continued until January 29 despite heavy presence of the security forces.

Kasganj is some 220 km southeast of the national capital.

Dayal, a human rights activist, said an armed police posse from Kasganj escorted their team to the border of the Kasganj district.

District Collector Rajendra Prasad has accused the seven-member team of making speeches in Kasganj and violating prohibitory orders.

Besides Dayal, the team comprised Kavita Krishnan, Prem Singh Gehlawat, Kiran Shaheen, Leena Dabiru, Tabrez Ahmad and Vijay Kumar.

Dayal regretted the team could not see 70 motorcycles the Hindu radicals had left at the police station.

“Police chief Ashok Kumar Singh of Soron police station Kasganj waylaid our fact finding team on way from district jail, threatened us saying did we not know the district is under prohibitory orders Section 144,” Dayal narrated.

In Kisganj, the team found police “rounding up of young men” and then foisting charges that have been contested by parents and leaders of both communities, he said.

Dayal told Matters India that the police have allowed alleged trouble-makers to roam free in Kisganj, not law abiding citizens who want to show solidarity with the victims of violence.

On February 5, another fact-finding team of activists that visited Kisganj claimed the violence there on Republic Day was not a spontaneous incident but a “planned move to create polarization and violent confrontation.”

Releasing a report in New Delhi under the banner of “United Against Hate,” the team also accused the Uttar Pradesh police of partisan action targeting the minority community. The team visited Kisganj on February 2.

“After talking extensively to local people of both the communities, it became clear that the situation in Kasganj was not any spontaneous clash between two communities but was a carefully planned attack,” said the report, released by retired police officer S.R. Darapuri, who was part of the team.

“The police and administration, as testified by locals and ground evidence, played a partisan role, and allowed the mob led by Sankalp Foundation and ABVP to run amok and indulge in organized violence, specially targeting Muslim-owned shops and property, including two mosques,” said the report.

“No protection is given either to the shops or homes of targeted Muslims or to mosques that were attacked. Police have not visited these sites to inspect or collect evidence,” it alleged.

The activists also accused the police of omitting from its FIR the attack on two mosques as well as the sealing of only Muslim populated localities during the tension, citing these as examples of prejudice.

The team also found that the affected shopkeepers had faced problems to get their cases registered. “The bias and prejudice of police is also acting as a deterrent for people to come forward and lodge individual cases of assault and damage,” the report said.

Ten days after the clashes the police have arrested 123 people and claimed to have cracked most cases related to the violence. However they are yet to act against the Sankalp Foundation that had taken out an “unauthorized” Tiranga Yatra (tricolor march) that triggered the violence.

Meanwhile, members of the foundation, founded a year ago, continued to spread hatred and tension through its Facebook posts, even threatening to take actions of revenge against Muslims.

Anukalp Vijay Chandra Chouhan, its president, wrote a long post on Facebook warning the Muslim community to face dire consequences over the death of Gupta, a founding member of the foundation.

Another office bearer of the Organisation, Ayush Sharma who also identifies himself as Pandit Ji, called for a boycott of the Muslim community.

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