Over the past four years, religious tension has steadily increased in Chhapra, Bihar.
For evidence, see how this once peaceful town in Saran district now celebrates Ram Navmi or Maha Shivaratri: the high point of the festivities is large processions of young men wearing saffron headbands brandishing swords and shouting “Jai Shri Ram” to a soundtrack of techno music.
Most chants, though, are not remotely religious, said Jeelani Mobin, the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s head of Chhapra Zilla Parishad. “Doodh maango, kheer dengay. Kashmir maango cheer dengay,” goes one slogan. “Ask for milk and we’ll give you kheer. Ask for Kashmir and we will cut you down.”
In such a charged atmosphere, even petty disputes take on communal overtones. “Recently, a Muslim boy killed a monkey that had been biting passersby,” Mobin offered an example. “A village headman began saying ‘Hanuman has been killed’ and a mob quickly took shape.”
In Wajidpur, a small village about half an hour from Chhapra, Mohammad Shamsher, 22, was stabbed by a group of Hindu boys on the day of Holi, March 13. Shamsher died on the way to hospital. Two days later, his family told Scroll.in they still did not know why he had been murdered. But what had transpired just after the stabbing was telling.
Over the last four or five years, the Bajrang Dal, the muscle of the Hindutva network known as the Sangh Parivar, has established itself firmly in this part of Bihar. If there is any incident involving Muslims, its members quickly reach the spot. This is what happened on March 13. Shamsher was stabbed at half past six in the evening. At around eight, a Bajrang Dal posse assembled in the lane leading to the 25-odd Muslim houses and the mosque.
Go to a state. Urgently ask about the biggest, newest changes. And sometimes you find really ugly stuff. As in Bihar. Five months in that state and the biggest development seemed to be this abrupt spike in communal tensions. It was a puzzling spike too. One that did not fit into the state’s past history of communal violence — the triggers, the nature of violence, they are both different.
This is Part One. Do read.
On Friday, the Hindustan Times reported that Sangeet Singh Som, the Bharatiya Janata Party member of Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly from Sardhana, along with two others, had acquired land for a meat-processing plant in Aligarh. The report said that land for the company Al Dua Food Processing Private Limited was purchased by Som, who happened to be one of its three directors, along with Moinuddin Qureshi and Yogesh Rawat…
…Som, who had visited Bishara village in Dadri tehsil earlier this month and said the UP government was shielding cow killers, responded to the newspaper’s questions and “admitted that he had purchased the land a few years ago but claimed that he was unaware of being appointed as a director of the company”.
And so it started. Som went on to tell the Hindustan Times that as a hindu hardliner, he would never get into such a trade. And that he would quit politics if any link was established between him and the meat co. Well, like this story out today shows, there are links aplenty.