Social activists and former inspector general of police blame prejudiced police and media for not highlighting Meerut-like incidents
Shabina Akhtar | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI – In Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut, not far from Delhi, more than 200 homes of Muslims in a slum area were razed, allegedly when the local authorities were trying to remove encroachments from the area. According to police, some of the shanties were set on fire by some miscreants when they were trying to evict the encroachers. However, a video, which is being widely circulated, shows a Muslim man, accusing the police for the shanties being set on fire. The chaos that ensued even took a minor communal colour, thereby escalating the tension.
Trouble began when members of Meerut Cantonment board along with police reached the Sadar Bazar area to have the encroachments removed. According to the police version, the encroachers angered by the move began stone-pelting and some anti-social element set some of the shanties on fire, which further aggravated the situation. The police filed FIR against unknown men and arrested around six Muslim men in this case.
Speaking to Caravan Daily about the incident, Rajeev Yadav of Rihai Manch said, “This is nothing new. Since we are working as social activists in Uttar Pradesh, we have been witnessing such cases to be on the rise. This case is being highlighted because of Meerut’s vicinity to the national capital.” He then added, “Low-intensity communal violence is on the rise in UP, with the sole agenda of polarizing the society. In most of the cases, areas with less Muslim population are being targeted. Here Dalits are being used to incite the violence with the sole agenda of instilling fear in Muslims so that they leave that area and move elsewhere.”
Explaining the biased role of the police in details he said, “There is a rise in frequency of such communal violence across UP, where the number of casualties is less and the number of those arrested is more. In most of the cases, Muslims are caught and the draconian National Security Act (NSA) is slapped on these men. For any common man, any person being slapped with NSA is a desh drohi. So, the agenda is bigger you see – gradually they want to have Muslims being bracketed as anti-nationals.”
“I am finding the counter-accusation a bit misleading, for neither the slum dwellers will set their own houses on fire, nor will the police set the shanties on fire. This case needs an independent probe,” said retired Inspector General of Police S R Darapuri. On being asked, why the issue is not being much reported by mainstream media, he said, “Both media and police are prejudiced towards Muslims. The mainstream media sadly enough prefers highlighting cases where the minorities are highlighted as the perpetrators.” Accusing the media of being biased, he said, “Incidents, where people from the minority community are the victims, are generally not highlighted in media.”