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Ground Report: Muslim Woman Marries Dalit Man With Consent; Her Co-Religionists Attack Entire Dalit Basti In Revenge

Author: Swati Goel Sharma and Sanjeev Newar
Publication: Swarajyamag.com
Date: March 22, 2021
URL:      https://swarajyamag.com/politics/muslim-mob-attack-dalit-basti-over-interfaith-marriage

The attack, on the night of 20 March, has been captured on CCTV camera.

Residents say daughter of a local criminal had visited the colony in the morning and threatened them with “khoon ki holi”.

The man’s mother, Rajni, says the woman’s family insulted her with slurs of “choohra” and “bhangi”

National newspapers have given the incident a passing coverage, but a colony in New Delhi witnessed a violent mob attack on the night of 20 March, 2021, over an interfaith marriage.

A Muslim mob barged into a Dalit Hindu basti in Sarai Kale Khan area around 10:30 pm, and attacked the houses with bricks, broke coolers and pots, thrashed men and women, molested minor girls and vandalised two-wheelers parked outside houses. The incident has partly been captured on a CCTV camera near the entrance.

Watch a video below:

Swati Goel Sharma @swati_gs

Returning from a Harijan Basti in Delhi's Sarai Kale Khan. Last night, a mob launched an attack on a Valmiki basti only because a Valmiki man & a Muslim woman married. The mob was enraged because the woman gave statement to police that she married with consent. Disturbing details

6:44 PM · Mar 21, 2021

The ‘trigger’ for the attack was a consensual interfaith marriage between a Hindu man and a Muslim woman, both adults.

In fact, hours before the attack, the woman had appeared in the police station and given her statement of consent. They had married in a temple on 17 March.

A certificate from a Yamuna Bazar-located temple dated 17 March says the couple married as per “Hindu Vedic rites and customs”. The certificate bears signatures of the pandit who solemnised the marriage, and two witnesses – both Hindus.

Another certificate from the same temple issued on the same day says the woman, Khushi, is a Muslim and has embraced Hinduism out of her own free will. Her name after the conversion remains unchanged.

These correspondents visited the area on 21 March. From Hazrat Nizamuddin metro station, a walk of about 500 metres leads one to the ‘Harijan basti’. The basti comprises small but pucca houses, all standing cheek-by-jowl in the claustrophobically narrow lanes, where a four-wheeler cannot pass.

She says Sumit is 22 and is still a student. He does odd-jobs to supplement the family’s income.

She says Sumit and Khushi met about three years ago. “When they expressed their wish to get married, I met her family. But they insulted me saying we are a family of “choohras” and “bhangis”. I returned after listening to their abuses. I told my son to stay away from her,” says Rajni.

She says Khushi’s family fixed her marriage elsewhere, in their own community, but she threatened to commit suicide.

“It was only on 19 March that I learnt they had quietly married in a temple. The police told us to come to the police station the next day for a hearing.”

She says that at the police station, the officers kept her family away from the Muslim side for their safety. The formalities took quite some time and went on till 10 pm, after which the police took Sumit and Khushi in their vehicle to a place near a Delhi border. Scared, Rajni and her husband did not return to their house that night.

“From the police station, we went to a relative’s place. We were not at home when the attack happened,” she says.

“Had we stayed, we would have been killed.”

Residents say that soon after the woman’s family learnt of the temple wedding, they approached the police saying their daughter had been missing. The police tracked the couple, and the date of their appearance in the police station was fixed on 20 March.

Residents say that on the morning of 20 March, a woman named Safina (some said her name is Sabina), daughter of a wealthy and influential local named Suleiman, visited the colony with a group of men and “threatened” them that if the colony sided with Sumit, there would be “khoon ki holi”.

All Valmiki residents that these correspondents talked to, testified to Safina’s visit and the threats.

Ravi, a resident, said that Safina gathered a mob in the name of “qaum” (religion), with the intention of “attacking Hindus” and repeatedly warned them of “khoon ki holi”.

Vijay, a resident, shows his bandaged hand. He says he was was attacked with a knife.

“When I heard a commotion and came downstairs, a man attempted to attack me with a knife. I held the sharp edge of the knife to prevent a stab,” he says

A woman who lives near the entrance of the basti, says the mob was holding swords. “They first threw bricks at my house. You can see the marks. Then they held me by my hair. My daughter was still outside. When I tried to push her inside the house, they tried to pull her clothes,” she says.

The girl, 11, testifies to it. “A lot of men arrived in our colony. They beat up my mother and pulled my top,” she says.

The woman says Suleiman is into sattebaazi and is a criminal. “He has autorickshaws running. He is a big criminal. All of us have given his and his daughter’s name to the police, but the police are ignoring our statements,” she says.

Residents are unhappy with the police action. They say the police hurriedly cleared the mess in the streets on the morning of 21 March to “destroy evidence”.

“The police have taken no action against the people we have identified, particularly Safina. They are also deleting the videos of the incident from our mobile phones,” a resident says.

The Times of India reported on 22 March that the police have arrested four men so far – Khushi’s brother Farman (20), and his neighbours Shahrukh (23), Hasan Ali (21) and Raja (19).

Sarai Kale Khan in southeast Delhi is an urban village with congested streets, where a little more than half the residents are Muslims. Residents say that most of the land belongs to the Hindu Gujjar community.

With heavy influx of domestic migrant labour in the last two decades, the Gujjars have converted their houses into bland buildings with multiple one-room sets. Residents say some buildings have as many as 50-60 one-room sets.

They say that three-fourth of the total Muslim population in the area comprises tenants who work as migrant labour. They say many migrant youths are into crime.

Outside of the basti, Muslim residents are not willing to talk about the incident. They refuse to be named or photographed. After about 100 metres, residents say they cannot comment on the matter as they are not eyewitnesses to the attack.

Rajkumar runs a Valmiki temple about 300 metres from the basti and is respected as a community leader. He says he was among those who the police called to the police station to witness Khushi’s statement.

“We were of the view that the matter should be settled in a panchayat, outside of police station. Little did we know that the other side would come with a mob,” he says.
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Author: Alka Dhupkar
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 2, 2022
URL:      https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/loudspeaker-lessons-for-india-from-a-maharashtra-village/articleshow/91259002.cms

The villagers of Barad have passed a resolution to stop the use of loudspeakers

Barad shows that strong-arm tactics are not needed to curb noise pollution; a simple matter of sitting across a table and discussing can do wonders

Barad is a biggish village in Nanded district of Maharashtra with a population of around 15,000. It is roughly 20km from Nanded city. Over time, the village has prospered and places of worship, among other buildings, have been renovated.

The village has 15 religious places — 12 Hindu temples and a place of worship each for Buddhist, Jain and Muslim communities. In some neighbourhoods, these religious places are in close proximity. No problem there.

It was only when these places started using loudspeakers to broadcast sermons, aartis and bhajans that the problem started. It became a veritable Tower of Babel — all noise and confusion.

“Since five in the morning, we used to play songs. In some places, one couldn’t hear the other’s songs or for that matter what was played in our temple,” says Suresh Deshmukh, a trustee of the local Hanuman temple.

For days on end, farmer Sharad Kawle’s 80-year-old grandmother couldn’t get a peaceful night’s sleep because of the rampant use of loudspeakers in the village.

But all this is in the past now. In charged times like these, Barad stands out as a model of communal harmony. Back in 2018, the villagers unanimously decided to remove loudspeakers from all religious places.

So, what happened in 2018?

According to deputy sarpanch Balasaheb Shankarao Deshmukh, sometime in December 2017, a Ganesh temple was using loudspeakers to broadcast maha aarti and a Buddha vihar nearby was playing religious songs. This went on till late at night.

“Groups from both sides started raising voices against each other, asking that the volume be lowered. Harmony in the village was completely disturbed,” he says. “Somehow we managed to cool tempers, but the tension simmered.”

But this wasn’t the only incident. A local school kept complaining about noise pollution to the Shiva temple trust and others in their area. The students couldn’t concentrate on studies because there was a kind of competition in using loudspeakers till late night and early mornings among all the religions.

The villagers were fed up. Some of them met after the tension escalated between Buddha and Ganpati followers. During a meeting with the local police, they discussed the proposal of removing all loudspeakers.

Thereafter, the villagers held a meeting with all the religious groups separately. Everybody accepted that the use of loudspeakers was a cause for concern and social discord. The religious trusts said if it was mandatory for all religious groups then they would also stop using loudspeakers.

After the consultations, a special gram sabha was called and a unanimous resolution was passed.

The villagers agreed to use sound boxes instead of loudspeakers. The only caveat: the volume of the sound box should be maintained at a pre-mandated level so the sound does not go beyond the walls of the holy place.

The gram panchayat has already installed around 40 small sound boxes for local announcements such as deaths, vaccination or other government programmes.

After the noise, peace

Yogesh Ratnparakhi, who runs Om Sai Coaching Classes in Barad, says, “In my centre, there are around 100 students and I can’t tell you how happy we all are that the loudspeakers have finally stopped. Earlier, students would use unending noise as an excuse not to study. Now, they properly focus on studies.”

Kiran Mahajan, a trustee of Chandra Prabhu Digambar Jain temple, says, “Ours is a private temple that is open to the public. We too had installed a loudspeaker because others installed it too. But after the removal of loudspeakers, we didn’t lose any devotees. Loudspeakers actually don’t matter.”

Sharad Kawle, the farmer, says, “Many of us in this village are followers of the Varkari bhakti movement. I believe that your religious activity should not disturb others. Keep it personal, so we all supported this proposal.”

His views are echoed by Sardar Sattar Khan Pathan of Jama Masjid in Barad. “We respect festivals of all communities. The kind of communal harmony we have maintained would not have been possible with loudspeakers at each religious place in the village.”

According to Vasant Lalme, a trustee of the Shiva temple, loudspeakers are not essential for singing bhajans or kirtans. “Devotion is a very personal feeling. It can be attained without loudspeakers. We have proved it.”

Model village

Deputy sarpanch Deshmukh, however, is disappointed that his village has not been given due recognition for the innovative solution to the menace of unchecked loudspeakers. The village doesn’t encourage the use of loudspeakers even for political rallies, weddings or other celebrations.

In other ways, too, Barad can be touted as a model village. It has received state awards for cleanliness and drinking water distribution management, open defecation-free status, success of ‘tanta mukti’ yojana (a scheme to clear local disputes at the village level) and other achievements.

The village has 20 CCTV cameras, which have helped curb theft, sexual harassment and other crimes. The village has developed a proper watershed system; a dormitory near a rural hospital is a unique feature of the village. It has also built a hostel for girl students, it has a zilla parishad school, multiple anganwadis, among other facilities.

As the noise over the use of loudspeakers at religious places grows louder and various state governments are using strong-arm tactics, perhaps it is Barad’s use of consultation that stands out more than its other achievements.