Comprehensive plans drawn by the local administration to deal with violent protests that erupted after Friday Namaz in Kanpur last week met with failure on June 10 as legions of Islamists hit the streets protesting against Nupur Sharma for her remarks on Prophet Muhammad and raising violent slogans against her.
Meanwhile, the All India Sunni Ulema Council wrote a letter to all Imams, requesting that they urge worshippers to return home immediately after prayers. In his statement, however, Maulana Haji Salim asked the protesters to embrace the Gandhian way of protest. Three days after violence swept Kanpur, OpIndia visited the riot-affected region on June 6 to talk to locals about the incident.
#कानपुर: ऑल इंडिया सुन्नी उलमा काउंसिल के हाजी सलीम ने शहर में मस्जिदों के इमामओं से अपील की है कि कल जब जुम्मे की नमाज में लोग आए तो उनसे अपील की जाए कि नमाज पढ़कर वह सीधे अपने घरों और कारोबार के लिए जाएं। शहर में अमन चैन बनाए रखना हर बाशिंदे की जिम्मेदारी है @adgzonekanpur pic.twitter.com/3zJkq8X3Se— UttarPradesh.ORG News (@WeUttarPradesh) June 9, 2022
Several Hindu stores near the area of the violence
The stretch between the parade crossroads and Yatimkhana was the most affected by the violence on June 3. This distance is just under half a kilometre. There are several Hindu stores in this area. This location, however, is reported to be a Muslim-majority region. Chanda Medical, Tandon Xerox, Meera Paints, Usha Pathology, Bhatia Restaurant, and the clinics of Dr Abhishek and Dr Prasad are among the commercial establishments located here. In the midst of these businesses, were one or two stores named Khan Chain and Leather or Raju Chain. During our visit, we saw the shutters of all these stores closed.
Chandreshwar Hata was the target
The OpIndia crew noticed a man with Shikha on his head amidst high security at the parade square, going about his normal routine. On the way there, several more individuals were going about their business, greeting each other with Ram-Ram, a salutation that Hindus in Uttar Pradesh normally use as an acknowledgement of one’s arrival or departure. They all declined to speak on the camera for the fear of retribution, but they did share their experiences.
They told, “We, a small group of Hindus, live in this area. Our locality is called Chandreshwar Mohalla, and it is home to a few hundred Hindus. On the day of the event, an attempt was made to target our area in the guise of protest. We only survived because of the quick action of security forces.”
Migration from this area exceeds that from Kairana
OpIndia spoke to one Chetan Vajpayee alias Sarvesh Vajpayee, a resident of Chandreshwar Mohalla. He told, “Previously, there was a large leather business behind our neighbourhood. It’s now a readymade leather industry. The majority of the individuals at the market are Muslim. They have to commute around the locality right now to get to that market. If they can conquer this area, their market will get straight access to the main road.”
Vajpayee further told, “The day we lose this locality, Hindus will not be seen in this area again. The last 3% of the Hindus in this area are the target of the 97% of Muslims here. This mohalla had attracted the headlines even in the Ram Mandir issue of 1992 and the Delhi controversy of 2001. In those days, the Hindu population in this area was significantly higher. So we could resist such attacks at that time. Migration in Kanpur is in all probability higher than that happened in Kairana.”
Violence erupted at the site where Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was murdered
Chetan Vajpayee also recalled a historic incident while speaking with OpIndia. The Sunahari Masjid is around 300 meters from the parade square where the incident occurred. In the year 1931, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, a journalist and an Indian National Congress leader, was killed during the communal riots when he was reportedly trying to rescue trapped Hindus from a murderous Muslim mob.
“On June 3, the violent crowd was on the same road. Suddenly, a youth appeared in front of our mohalla, waving handkerchiefs and directing the group of rioters towards our homes. The video clip of him waving his handkerchief went viral on social media. At the time, there were only around a half-dozen police on the spot. They attempted to disperse the mob, but the rioters began pelting stones,” Vajpayee said.
Hindus pelted the same stones back in self-defence
Chetan further said, “Stone pelting continued from there due to a lack of police personnel. A woman and a child in our locality were injured during this time. When the people on our side saw this, they became enraged, and they, together with the police, picked up the stones hurled by the crowd and flung them back at the rioters in self-defence. The rioters were later chased away by the cops.”
How come both sides are punished when only one of them is at fault?
Chetan further added, “After running away some distance, the mob again returned with stones and petrol bombs. The crowd included people from different parts of Kanpur. That’s why there’s a problem in identifying the miscreants. Today, those who are accusing the police of unilateral action should know that the mistake was also one-sided. What did we guys do? Eight of our people including a woman are injured in the stone-pelting. A boy’s elbow is broken.”
The plan was to set the Chandreshwar mohalla ablaze
“Police officers deployed around the streets were able to deflect the throng in other directions. It would have been tough to defend this area if the mob had proceeded in this way. If they disagree with Nupur Sharma, they should speak out against her. Why did they throw petrol bombs at our houses? Will they destroy the entire country if someone else says anything tomorrow?” Vajpayee said.
‘Reclaiming our properties was also one of the reasons for riots’
Chetan told, “The property owned by the majority of the individuals in this area are Muslims. The Mayor of Kanpur recently visited this area and cleared many temples from Muslim occupancy. This is also one of the causes for the rage among people that culminated in riots.”
Chetan said, “If really strict action is taken on these properties, a large part of Kanpur will be vacated. Many people who have gone to Pakistan have handed over all their properties to their relatives here. This is a big conspiracy against the country.”
Rioters are afraid of Yogi Government
Chetan Vajpayee, however, added that the rioters feared action from the Yogi Adityanath government. “The rioters’ planning actually failed. They had a misconception that the force would be far away in the security of the President and the Prime Minister. This is why they planned to do something big in the locality. Perhaps there was a plan for genocide or arson by entering our locality. However, within a few minutes, when a large number of forces arrived, the rioters had to flee. Even the police commissioner reached within 15 minutes which was not expected by the rioters too. There has been a lot of positive change in the Yogi government as compared to the previous governments,” Vajpayee recalled talking to OpIndia.
Love Jihad to target the girls in the Chandreshwar Mohalla
Vajpayee also informed us about the love jihad conspiracy against the Hindu girls living in this area. He said, “There was a conspiracy of love jihad against around 10-15 girls who live in our area. We were able to convince many of them. We are trying to counsel the rest, too. The police also cooperated with us in this regard.”
Chetan Vajpeyi told that the Hindus in the Chandreshwar Mohalla are afraid of the Muslim rioters. He said, “The truth is, we live here in perpetual fear. Tall buildings have been built next to our houses. Stones and bombs are thrown from those buildings. They are silent only if we let them do whatever they want to. The moment we resist something, the problem starts there. Let the police be deployed for our safety.”
A local Hindu leader Prakash Sharma said, “The intentions of the mob were quite dangerous. Chandreshwar Mohalla was their target. The administration controlled them at the right time by showing necessary strictness, otherwise, the situation would have been catastrophic.” Local BJP leader Sunil Bajaj also praised the promptness of the police administration on the day of the violence and said that the intentions of the miscreants were very dangerous.
The poison is rooted too deep within
Bhadauria drives an electric rickshaw in that area. He usually wears saffron clothes. He told OpIndia, “Once I went to a guest house in Kanpur in the same clothes. The owner of the guest house was a Muslim. I asked him for water and he scolded me and drove me away.”
Implying the severity of the situation, he said, “A policeman from the station of my area spotted me in this area. He recognized me and told me to go to another area and drive the rickshaw there.” Bhadauria said that he is working in Kanpur for the last thirty years.
About Hayat Zafar Hashmi
A local resident Salim told OpIndia that they never had a suspicion over Hayat Zafar Hashmi. He said, “This has been done by some people from outside. People of this area are not identified in the violence. Their faces are also not seen in the posters put up by the administration.”
Salim added, “The main accused are said live near Chamanganj, 2 km from here. Barawafat’s procession also takes place here, but for many years there has never been any violence during that.”
Mazars mushrooming in public places
While returning to the bus station, the OpIndia team noticed a Mazar just close to the road. The office of the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW) of the Kanpur Police was also seen. The bus station is just a kilometre away from here. Apart from this, similar religious encroachments were seen on the roads at many other places in the city.