Uneasy calm

The doors left ajar and the unbolted windows at <g data-gr-id="77">Atali</g> in Faridabad district of Haryana just across the national Capital, shows clearly the haste in which the people of the minority community had to flee after tensions broke out between two communities on May 25.

The bone of contention behind the whole incident is a disputed piece of land on which a mosque was being built after a court ordered in the favour of the mosque. However, the people of the majority 
<g data-gr-id="121">community</g> had a problem in the mosque being constructed as it was just beside a temple. It was reported that the headman had offered a piece of land adjacent to the village but the people of the minority community did not accept the land as the court had already passed an order in the favour of the land on which the construction was been carried out.

Clashes between the people of the two communities in the village of <g data-gr-id="109">Atali</g> is common but the latest clash broke all boundaries and escalated to such a level that about 200 people of the minority 
<g data-gr-id="94">community</g> lived displaced at Ballablabgarh police station, about 15 <g data-gr-id="89">kms</g> away from the village, for nine days.

The violence broke out when some people of the majority community tried to stop the construction of the mosque. Despite the interruption when the people of the minority community continued building the <g data-gr-id="101">mosque</g> they were attacked. Houses of the people of the minority community were targeted and burnt down. Women and children were beaten and their houses vandalised.

The petrified people called the police but allegedly the police action too turned out to be a reason for the tensions getting aggravated. On Monday, May 25, when stone pelting was reported from the village between the two communities, a small force of policemen was posted. Later after a few hours the posted police force was allegedly called back by SHO Babulal Rathi, following which a larger group of the majority community attacked the people of the minority community.

The scared people fled the village and took shelter in a police station at Ballabgarh. Back in the village their houses were under fire, the <g data-gr-id="122">under construction</g> mosque was vandalised, and the village bore a deserted look. Thereafter the Rapid Action Force (RAF) was called in and a curfew was declared in the village. Since then, not a single person of the minority community returned back to the village for nine days.

The displaced victims, had been staying in the open with a shamiana being the only cover from the sweltering heat. People and sympathisers from the neighbouring villages and Ballabgarh were providing them with food and water but little was being done by the administration. Taj Mohammad, a local, who is providing help to the people, says, “I heard of the plight of these people and came here to help them out, but I am amazed to see that the administration is rendering no help.”

Several groups of sympathisers since the <g data-gr-id="117">clash</g> have visited the Ballabgarh police station in order to assure the victims help and protection. The on ground report is, however, different. The affected people alleged that people are coming in groups, giving out impressive speeches but <g data-gr-id="115">very</g> little change actually happened. It was reported that an arrest was made following an FIR but the accused had to be left after the people of the majority community built pressure on the police.

On May 30, Additional Deputy Commissioner Faridabad, Aditya Dahiya, and SDM Ballabgarh, Priyanka Soni had visited the <g data-gr-id="123">make-shift</g> relief camp at the Ballabgarh police station and took note of the arrangements made for the affected families. The two further urged the victims to return home saying their security would be looked after by the administration. Dahiya also issued instructions to district Red Cross Society, police officials, health department and Municipal Corporation to do everything possible to take care of the affected people.

However, the victims were not willing to return to the village in fear of further attack on them. The victims demanded the arrest of the perpetrators only after which would they return. They said that they are facing problems in the camp but were also afraid of returning back to the village as they feared the people of the majority community might once again attack them. The police, however, had a different solution on <g data-gr-id="92">mind</g>. On Thursday, May 28, speaking to Millennium Post, a police personnel on condition of anonymity had said, “that arrests are certain to happen but the police are prioritising the tensions to settle down first.” He had also said that amid such tension if arrests are made there can be high possibilities of fresh violence.

Social activist, Shabnam Hashmi, took this in a different way saying that, “the local administration would like to break a peace without any action against culprits and they seem to have bought some people from within the community.” Amidst all this Aam Aadmi Party, too, had sent a four-member-team comprising Uttam Nagar and Okhla MLAs Naresh Balyan and Amanatullah Khan respectively, along with leaders <g data-gr-id="126">Abhas</g> Chandela and Feroz Khan to <g data-gr-id="127">Atali</g> to draw a ground report. The team also is believed to have submitted a copy of the report to the National Human Rights Commission.

It was also reported that a certain group of people of the majority community had visited the victims in the course of the week in order to coax them to return to the village. The group had also assured the people of security. However, the affected people are petrified to their bones and would not relent until arrests have been made. Police and RAF personnel continue to be posted despite the cooling down of situations. 

The victims returned to the village on May 3, as it was decided  in a peaceful meeting between the two communities that the construction of the mosque will no further be hampered. However, a new tension still prevails-the compensation. The houses have been completely vandalised which calls for heavy reconstruction. Now it has to be seen that how are the victims compensated as no official announcement has yet been made. 

Mewat, where it all happened

Mewat, a region within which falls <g data-gr-id="214">Atali</g>, was carved out from the districts of Gurgaon and Faridabad, and was initially named as the district of Satyamev by the former chief minister, O P Chautala, thinking the name included the numerically preponderant Muslim ethnic group called Meos, spread out in the district and in the neighbouring districts of Dhaulpur, Bharatpur and Alwar in Rajasthan and Mathura in UP.

The district was renamed on April 4, 2005, as Mewat by the former Chief Minister of Haryana B S Hooda. The city of Gurgaon, the new millennium city, has been benefitted due to its proximity with Delhi though Mewat, once part of Gurgaon district, continues to be the most backward district as per the <g data-gr-id="230">parametres</g> of education, health, development, railway, prosperity, literacy, employment etc. The literacy rate in Mewat is appallingly low, particularly in the case of females. For Muslim women in Mewat, the literacy rate ranges between 1.76 per cent to 2.13 per cent which is the lowest in the country. 

The literacy rate for men also falls below the National average and ranges between 27 per cent to 33 per cent. The rate of literacy in the district is 44 <g data-gr-id="231">per cent</g> as compared to 68.59 <g data-gr-id="232">per cent</g> of the state. As far as education is concerned only 78 per cent villages have primary schools, middle schools in nine per cent, secondary schools in seven per cent and senior secondary schools in just four per cent villages.

The Male: Female sex ratio is lower than the National average. In Mewat there are only 894 females to each 1,000 male as against the national average of 927 females per l,000 males according to a survey. Infant mortality rate in Mewat indicates similar backwardness rising up to 85 per 1,000 in Punhana block, which has 80 <g data-gr-id="218">per cent</g> Muslim community, as against the national average of 72 and 75 for Haryana.

"We have assured the other side of full cooperation and promised to maintain peace. Rajesh Chaudhary, Sarpanch, <g data-gr-id="280">Atali</g>.

Previously, the people of the majority community from the village had said that we could build our mosque but not immediately and with conditions. Arrests were also to be made, but not immediately. 
Now they’re saying that construction on the mosque will begin before Ramzan later this month. The district administration has also assured us that those who have been named in the FIR will definitely be arrested. Nizam <g data-gr-id="357">Ali,</g>
<g data-gr-id="357"> a </g>victim.

Violation of law and igniting riots would not be tolerated in any case. We have already filed an FIR against the people identified among the rioters. Subhash Yadav Commissioner of Police.

I heard of the plight of these people and came here to help them out, but I am amazed to see that the people in the administration are rendering no help. Only the Almighty knows what will become the fate of these people. Taj Mohammad a local.

During the partition of 1947, the elders from Hindus of this village never allowed us to flee to Pakistan. If they had to kill us, they would have finished us during the partition. But they never did this. Mulla Shabbir an elder.
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