Tuesday, October 24, 2017
NEW DELHI: Deep terror and fear stalks Mewat in Haryana, the only district where there is a sizeable Muslim community in the state. The police under the BJP led government has taken over the work of the cow vigilantes, and has been officially charged to sniff beef from the biryani being cooked for Eid in homes and at street stalls.
In organised raids the police took away samples across the town, and let it be known through sections of the media that yes, indeed beef had been found in some of these biryani samples. No one knows if this is true, there are no forensic reports or evidence, but the terror is such that most of the vendors have shut shop on the eve of Eid, and others are living in fear of their lives.
The air is menacing, and the poor Muslims earning a very meagre living through these biryani stalls are now on the verge of penury. The business has stopped, with the police threatening and aggressive. As everyone in the vicinity knows, the charge of ‘beef’ is life threatening and by the time anyone proves otherwise---if at all-- the vendor could be lying dead or severely injured as incidents in the recent past have shown. The Haryana police officers have been quoted in the local media as saying that now the raids will no longer be random, but will cover all biryani vendors in the area.
In the midst of this has come reports of a brutal attack on Muslims, in a village in Mewat where they were brutally beaten and killed, and the girls raped by a gang of youth. Local workers insist that at least two of the assailants were recognised as memebrs of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, with activisits naming them at a press conference held in Delhi by Anhad yesterday. This was hosted by Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar Ansari who had visited the village, and despite letters and requisitions, unable to secure justice for the traumatised family. The victims narrated their story of horror, with a simplicity that brought tears to many an eye.
Although the house was looted, the modus operandi of the assailants according to Advocate Ramzan Chaudhry suggested a planned attack. The family was mercilessly thrashed, the girls raped over and over again, and two killed. Shabnam Hashmi said that two of the accused were found to be volunteers of the RSS as per their Facebook profiles. And according to her, weere also reported to members of the Gau Raksha Samiti in the state.
The atmosphere in Mewat is not just tense, but openly communal and terrifying as the locals said. The family from the village had to come to Delhi to ask for justice, with the police according to the lawyers being non-cooperative. However, in the district the police is busy raiding vendors, and taking away samples of biryani in what are daily raids, intended to strike fear on the eve of Eid and prevent the Muslims from cooking meat.
The poor vendors live on daily wages, and the disruption of business and that too just before Eid when they expect to make some profit, has placed many of them in debt. The Haryana government is following the larger agenda of driving the poorer Muslims at this stage out of business, and ensuring that their freedoms are curtailed through the threat of arrests and mob attacks. Locals share this information with trepidation, insisting they not be quoted, and pointing out that the entire community is now living in fear of its lives.
The Haryana government has enforced what it has labbeled the Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gau Samvardhan Act 2015. This was followed by panchayats where the Qureshi community in the state was told to give up the meat business. All meat, not just beef. The Muslims have been for long dependent on this business to survive, are largely landless. The Indian Express that is perhaps the only mainstream newspaper to take up the issue, wrote today that the youth are all running for their lives. A local lawyer admitted this, saying that the young people were clearly the target in police raids.
The festival of cheer Eid has turned into a nightmare for the Muslim residents of Mewat who are facing now not just the threat of mob violence, but of police wrath. The police teams that have been regularly driving in and swooping down on hapless vendors, are abusive, threatening and in characterestic style throw the utensils and break the poor Muslim stall owners meagre belongings.
There has not been a word in protest from the Congress party in Haryana that remains a mute spectator to this systemic state attack on the minorities in Haryana.