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Saturday 6 June 2020

Kanpur Muslims, claiming innocence, despair after 2-day riot

City-based journalists say they knew what would happen after namaz but the police didn't; neighbours doubt a Muslim who lost his brother

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The conspiracy behind the acts of violence, including arson, in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur on Saturday stands exposed. Out the 18 riot-ravaged districts of Uttar Pradesh on Friday, the maximum violence occurred in Kanpur where 13 people were shot at killing two of them.

Kanpur is the only district in the State where the violence continued on Saturday after Friday. Locals are calling this violence pre-planned even as security forces’ deployment increased in Babupurwa, Munshipurwa, Begumpurwa.

Most of the houses are under lock-and-key. People have sought shelter at the places of close relatives, friends and acquaintances away from the Kanpur city.

Even Muslim women are scared of the rioters in the community. Many have taken shelter in the new mosque for security.

In Begampurva on Friday, namaz was followed by heavy stone-pelting on the police. Petrol bombs and acid bombs were thrown indiscriminately. Broken glass bottles are strewn all over the place in the stretch of 300 m between the Char Rod police post and Idgah. Four police motorcycles lay charred beyond recognition. On Saturday, more than 100 policemen were on duty in this area. These include the SSB, Civil Police and PAC jawans.

While Muslims in Begumpurwa speak of their fear of policemen, the cops complain of the violence they were subjected to. The women say when the police arrived in the night, there was no woman officer or constable with them. They separated the children and the elderly from the youth and questioned the latter. “Now we are gathering in the grounds of the mosque,” a woman said.

Most families are daily-wage earners in the Begumpurwa district that turned violent in the past two days. Many run e-rickshaws while some are fruit sellers and daily-wage earners working in and out of the district.

Saif (25) was shot dead during a violent protest. His body was sent for a post-mortem on Saturday. Local leaders reached the postmortem house to console the family. Here, Saif’s elder brother said, “We have been saying since yesterday that our brother has been shot by the police. He died so young! Ammi is crying inconsolably.” But then, he conceded that even his neighbours blame his family and his dead brother for participating in the riots or, at least, being a part of the mob.

An elder in Begumpurwa said that the Friday worshippers were asked to take out a procession to the Char Rod Police Outpost 300 m away to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, conceding that a religious occasion was used for a political purpose. The police refused permission to them. After this, some Muslims shouted slogans and pushed the cops guarding the streets. The police lathi-charged the crowd to disperse the people. The boys then started throwing stones at the cops, after which the situation deteriorated.

CO Babupurava Manoj Gupta said, “Under Section 144 in the city, no one is allowed to take out a procession, but when the mob resorted to violence, the police had to lathi-charge. So far 39 people have been detained.”

The violence lasted three hours in Babupurwa, Begumpurwa. After this, the police patrolled the area at 5.30 PM. Eyewitnesses told Sirf News on condition of anonymity that, by 10 PM, the police had raided the houses of suspects and caught some people.

In the riot before this, shops in the area were demolished. Vehicles parked in front of the houses were smashed. Those whose houses have wooden doors were demolished.

An onlooker Anwar said that the door of his house was broken by police’s gun butts. “They took away my nephew.”

Inayat Ali showed the broken rear-view mirror of his vehicle and said, “We were not involved in the ruckus. But they smashed my vehicle parked in front of the house. Now, I have no money to buy a new one.”

On Friday, Jamaluddin’s daughter, who works in the Ordinance Factory, was to be married at the Idgah ground. “All the preparations were done. Pandals were erected. Food had been cooked, but after the ruckus, no guests arrived at the wedding. The relatives who gathered here left early. However, some people from both sides gathered in a mosque and arranged the nikah,” he said.

Views of Kanpur journalists and other locals vary

Senior journalist Sameer Atmaj Mishra says that the police failed to see what was coming. He asks if journalists of Kanpur city knew that there would be demonstrations after the Friday prayers, how the police did not know it. “Wherever there were disturbances, there was a shortage of police force. When the violence broke out, additional security forces arrived. This was the reason that the miscreants began with minor vandalisms and then turned destruction into an orgy,” he said.

The Kanpur-based journalist added there was a lack of coordination among the police. The DM and SP, along with additional police force, reached Babupurwa at 5 PM while the maximum disturbance was witnessed here.

“The police did not know that the worshippers would take out a procession after the prayers. Processions were allowed in many places, There was ruckus where it was allowed and ruckus where it was not allowed,” Mishra said.

Other local journalists believe that the kind of riots witnessed on Friday had a pattern like that of the 1992 riots. “During the violence, miscreants used stones, petrol bombs and acid bombs. All of this seems to be part of pre-planned action,” another scribe said.

Other residents of Kanpur have a different take on the incidents of violence. They believe that some external elements have entered Kanpur. They guessed it from the fact that some men were seen pelting stones with their faces covered. “People were instigated. Despite the strictness of the police, they organised themselves for violent processions,” said a Hindu resident of the area.

His Muslim neighbour said, “Those who had assured in the meeting of the local peace committee that the demonstration will be peaceful failed to stop the crowd from turning into a mob.”

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