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Communal overtones

Although the violence may have lasted merely an hour, deep divisions have begun to emerge between families across the Hindu-Muslim divide in <g data-gr-id="41">Atali</g> village in Ballabhgarh, Faridabad. Both sides have accused the other of instigating the violence. In an area not known for Hindu-Muslim riots, suspicions between the two communities have festered, resulting in communal violence. According to the police, tensions between the two communities had begun to fester since the beginning of this month when some in the Muslim community began constructing the mosque at a disputed site. While the Muslims maintain that the court had given them permission to start construction, the Jat community maintained that the act was in clear violation of the court’s order.

Members of the Muslim community allege that the attacks began when they gathered at a showroom opposite the under-construction mosque to pray. The attacks, they allege, were selectively aimed at Muslim households. Meanwhile the Jats, in turn, alleged that the violence was instigated by the Muslims and two houses, owned by Jats, were also burnt. The riots, according to news reports, have led to the mass exodus of members from the Muslim community, besides the destruction of the under-construction mosque. Reports also state that many who fled the village made their way to Ballabgarh (city) police station, where they protested against what they deemed to be a lax response from the police. Some of those who escaped have claimed that 36 hours after the attack, the police have not made a single arrest. They allege that those who had instigated the violence were given time to bury the evidence. The police, however, argued to the contrary and as per latest reports, the violence in the area has subsided.  

Unlike many riots in the past, no deaths have been reported thus far. However, people have fled their homes and livelihoods, fearing for their lives. Be it the recent race riots in the United States or the various communal flare-ups of the past in India; the human cost usually arises out of the state machinery’s inability to establish law and order. Inordinate delays in investigation, poor methods of collecting evidence and the state’s inability to protect its citizens, usually mark such situations. In certain cases, the magnitude of the violence boils is exacerbated by the complicity of the state. This is not to suggest that the local police have exacerbated the violence. However, many examples in the past have showed us that the state machinery is usually culpable of not containing violence.

Reports in various national dailies, however, have said that the process of lodging complaints has begun in <g data-gr-id="29">Atali</g>. The police have also begun to identify those houses that have been damaged, besides locating its owners and calculating the extent of the loss. One does hope that the police keeps a handle on the situation and not allow such future acts of violence. More importantly, the political class must resist its temptation of generating political capital out of people’s insecurities. 
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