THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 9 AUGUST, 2018
UP Cops ‘Red Card’ For Kanwariyas Terrifies Muslims: 70 Families Flee Village
After Delhi, UP
Even as Twitter is flooded with Delhi residents' complaints about the mayhem created by the now visibly militarised Kanwariyas, Muslims in Bareilly villages are feeling the heat.
Yogi Adityanath’s police has issued ‘red cards’ to residents that basically read, “We have secret information that during the Kanwar yatra you might create trouble… with this red card we are informing you that if you create any trouble during the Kanwar yatra, action will be taken against you. You will be held accountable.”
Terrified of police action, and of violence by the Kanwariyas they move through the countryside, at least 70 Muslim families in Khelum village of Bareilly are reported to have fled for fear of their lives.
Several houses have been locked as the police warning comes a year after violence was reported from the same area, with reports suggesting a clash between Kanwariyas and Muslims in which security personnel were also injured.
This time the police has placed the onus on the minorities, with the ‘red cards’ carrying the threat of action, according to locals many of whom are packing their belongings to move into safer areas for the duration of the yatra.
Kanwariyas are devotees of Shiva, and every year they move to Hindu pilgrimage centres like Haridwar and Gangotri from different parts of north India. It had until a few years ago been a peaceful and routine pilgrimage.
In more recent years, it has become increasingly muscular, with the religious symbols being replaced by the national flag. And this time many of the devotees are carrying hockey sticks.
The Kanwariyas who are currently passing through Delhi in large numbers attacked vehicles in Moti Nagar, vandalising cars. The video below shows them smashing a car that was reportedly being driven by a woman who managed to escape. The normally peaceful and quiet procession has made itself felt in the national capital through sheer lumpenism, with the videos in wide circulation.
In the UP villages the police is using ‘red cards’ and threatening action against anyone who comes in the way of the Kanwariyas' procession, with Muslims being targeted. Several persons have reportedly been made to sign personal bonds of Rs 5 lakh according to local papers, after being identified by the cops as potential troublemakers.
An advocate in Bareilly said he had met some of those who had fled their villages. “They are terrified and have left their land and their homes until the pilgrimage is over,” he said.
The Indian Express reported that one of the houses vacated by a villager had been taken over as a ‘control room’ by the police, who are using it to keep an eye on the villagers and mount CCTV cameras. The message out to the villagers is: Keep quiet and let the procession pass. You will be responsible if there is any violence.
This after the violence in Delhi where the Kanwariyas with their sticks hit any car or passerby coming in their way. The attack on the vehicle as per the above video is the more extreme case, with the police in the national capital standing by helplessly as the video shows.
Sources said that the Muslims in UP, particularly in the communally tense districts which includes Bareilly, are living in deep fear. The encounters for which Chief Minister Adityanath has congratulated his police, have created an environment of terror with young people on the radar.