LUCKNOW — When a fact-finding team of civil rights group Rihai Manch visited the Mohammadpur village in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh earlier this month, the team, which included Manch president and noted lawyer Adv. Mohammad Shoaib and former IG of the state Wajeeh Ahmed, found several homes of Muslim residents locked from outside. They have fled the village fearing arrest after the local Police filed a case naming 13 Muslims and 50 unknown others from the minority community. Why?
As per the preliminary inquiry report released to media by Rihai Manch here on Friday, its team visited the Mohammadpur village on 2nd November to know the truth behind reports that people were fleeing the village. The Manch said that tension erupted following in-charge of the local police post allegedly began illegal construction of a temple on a piece of land reserved for plantation of trees on the side of a highway near the police post.
The team talked to the villagers and visited the disputed site in the presence of local media.
Members of Rihai Manch’s fact-finding team were: Adv. Mohammad Shoaib, former IG Wajeeh Ahmed, senior lawyer of Barabanki Adv. Randheer Singh Suman, and activists Balwant Yadav and Masihuddin Sanjari.
“The delegation found that most Muslim homes in the village were locked from outside. Some have only female members and elderly persons. People told us that the in-charge of the police post was getting a temple constructed on a piece of land reserved for plantation of trees on the side of a highway near the police post. When the villagers opposed it and asked the police officer to stop the construction work, he got angry. He gathered communal elements from neighboring villages. The crowd raised objectionable and provocative slogans against Muslims and hurled abuses at them and threw stones on a mosque in front of the police post across the highway. Later the police officer lodged a case naming 13 Muslims and 50 unknown others and he took action against members of the other side under section 151,” said Manch in its preliminary inquiry report.
In its press release, Manch quoted former IG Wajeeh Ahmed who was member of the delegation. “Prima facie, it appears to be a case of encroaching the land near highway worth crores of rupees. Law does not allow a police post in-charge to construct a temple. The Police officer has filed false cases only to hide his illegal act,” Ahmed was quoted as saying.
Rihai Manch president Adv. Shoaib said: “The piece of land on which a temple was being constructed is located near the highway and land papers show it was reserved for plantation of trees. As per law, nothing can be constructed on plantation land.”
The Manch delegation found that “there was no tension among Hindu and Muslim residents of the village over the temple issue.”
“Police lodged the case against Muslims under various sections of law and in order to create fear among them, raids were conducted in the night. That is why most of Muslim families have fled the village after locking their homes. Fearing any untoward incident, even small shops are closed in the village. Daily wage laborers have no work to earn living,” said Rihai Manch.