A case has been filed against some members of the Muslim community in Bihar’s Begusarai for perpetrating violence against the Mahadalit community. Shankar Paswan and his family members have accused Muslims in the Pipra Dewas village of committing atrocities against them. Already the area is categorised as highly sensitive and has witnessed several such communal strifes in the past. In this regard, OpIndia talked to the victims to know their side of the story.
Local Hindu organisations and villagers claim Muslims tortured members of Mahadalit community
The members of the Hindu Sangharsh Samiti have alleged that Mahadalits were tortured in ward number 13 of Pipra Dewas Panchayat. A meeting was organised by ‘Hindu Sangharsh Samiti’ under the presidency of Vijay Paswan in the premises of Shiv Temple of Pipra Dewas Panchayat of Barauni block of the district where the victim Shankar Paswan asserted that the Muslims had misbehaved with the Mahadalits.
In the latest incident, the local Muslim youths have been accused of humiliating Mahadalits by making casteist slurs such as ‘Dusadh-Dusadh’, said Paswan alleging that Hindu deities were also subjected to abuse by the anti-social elements of the Muslim community. Paswan further added that when the accused were asked to not indulge in such behaviour, they surrounded their locality with weapons such as swords, batons, iron rods and spears and smashed the widow Munni Devi’s house with brickbats and bottles of liquor.
At the same time, Vijay Paswan also aired his grievances against the local administration. He alleged that the registration of an FIR against the victim shows the collusion of the administration with the anti-social elements. According to him, dozens of Hindu families are forced to suffer because of the administration. He claimed that even after 5 days of the incident, none of the miscreants was arrested, which demonstrated the administration’s apathy towards the sufferings of Hindus.
Another member of the ‘Hindu Sangharsh Samiti’, Bittu Shah, has warned that if corrective action is not initiated against the culprits, large-scale agitation will be launched by the youth. As tensions simmer in the village, BJP Yuva Morcha Mandal President Deepak Poddar appealed to the administration to take cognizance of this matter to avoid any untoward incident.
The FIR lodged in the police station
FIRs have been lodged in the police station by both the parties. According to the FIR filed by the victims of the Mahadalit community, some youths from the Muslim community, including Mohammed Chhotu and Raja Mian, abused Vivek Kumar from the Mahadalit community and passed casteist remarks against him. This incident happened when Vivek went to a shop with his other colleagues.
When Vivek came home weeping, Shankar Paswan, along with some members of his society, lodged a protest at the shop. This riled up Mohammad Shahnawaz, Mohammad Khalid, Mohammad Zubair, Mohammad Israel, Mohammad Shadik Miyan, Mohammad Imran and people from other Muslim communities, including Mohammad Manzoor Alam, who were irked by Paswan’s audacity to stand up to their bullying. They all started abusing Paswan and other members of the Mahadalit community and hurled casteist slurs against them.
The FIR further mentions that the accused, ostensibly belonging to the Muslim community, also threatened to molest daughters-in-law of the Mahadalit community members, inciting them by asking what would a ‘Dusadh’—a pejorative reference to the adherents of the Mahadalit community—would do against them. Following this verbal altercation, Shankar Paswan was attacked with a brick on his head, while Vivek was also attacked with a sharp weapon. This led to injuries to many others including Amit and Sonu. Shankar Paswan has lodged a complaint that several other accused were constantly throwing bricks and stones from the opposite side.
In addition to making casteist jibes, threatening and attacking Mahadalits, one of the assailants, Mohammad Zubair, also snatched a fake gold necklace donned by Shankar Paswan which was worth Rs 1000. The lodged complaint read that the accused Muslims were constantly abusing the Mahadalits and threatening them of extermination.
OpIndia talked to victim Shankar Paswan
Expressing his fear and anxiety over the treatment meted out to his children, Shankar Paswan while talking to OpIndia said that he is extremely worried about coexisting with the miscreants in the society. Shankar told OpIndia that Vivek had merely gone to fetch some goods from a shop when he was attacked by the Muslim community, adding that he was intimidated saying “no Hindu father will come to save you”.
Paswan further added that his family subsists by earning daily wages. He said that most Hindus are reluctant to raise their voice because of the predominant numbers of Muslims in the area. He revealed that while 20-25 members of Muslims lined up to abuse and attack them, only 4-5 Hindus came in their support. He has also accused Muslims of exploiting the Mahadalits.
The FIR from the Muslim side
While the Mahadalits have filed an FIR against the Muslims for attacking and threatening them, a counter FIR was filed by a woman from the Muslim side. The lady, the wife of Mohammad Abbas, has accused the Mahadalits of molesting her in the FIR. The FIR mentions that members of the Mahadalit community deliberately congregated in front of their house and ogled at the ladies of the house.
The FIR filed by the Muslim side has laid the entire blame on the Hindus in society. The woman has claimed that the people who came with Paswan attacked the Muslim neighbourhoods which later spiralled into Hindu-Muslim communal flare-up.
We tried to contact the phone number in the FIR filed by the Muslim side. They told us that they currently involved in the court matters and would be able to talk to us later. Opindia is constantly trying to seek a response from the other side. We will update the story as soon as we hear from the Muslim side.
The police version
The police have outrightly denied the allegations of prejudice levelled against them. They said that action was initiated as soon as they were informed about the incident. They have mentioned that the injured from the Mahadalit community were taken to the hospital by a police vehicle from where they were referred to Sadar hospital. An investigation into the matter is underway, after which action will be taken against the culprits.