Communal tension prevailed in Siwan, Bihar, after stone-pelting was carried out on the Mahaviri Akhada procession from a masjid (mosque) on September 8. One Juvenile accused is also taken into custody in the case. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi had claimed that the age of the juvenile taken into custody is 8 years, while Bihar Police has stated that he is 13 years of age. The Police have said that they have visuals with them which prove that the juvenile was pelting stones on the procession. However, some are crying foul and claiming that this arrest of the juvenile is an ‘atrocity on Muslims’.
In this case, the visuals which have come up clearly show that stone pelting was being done from the roof of a mosque. Further, it can be seen that women and children from adjoining buildings are also pelting stones. Six police officers including one inspector and two SIs are injured in the violence. Media reports suggest the clashes started over a minor dispute. Police had to set up a camp to maintain law and order. However, now the Islamists and ‘liberals’ are questioning police action.
Islamists question police action
The police action was being questioned after AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi gave a statement on the incident. He questioned Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and said whether he would respect the Muslim community after claiming the boy arrested by police was eight years of age. He said that the police was lying to the media that the boy was 13 years old. He claimed he had the juvenile accused’s birth certificate and was 8 years old.
Accusing Nitish Kumar and his coalition party RJD of faking secularism, Owaisi said they should try to understand how the mother of the child must be feeling. He said that if the government were of another party, everyone would have been quick to react and question police action. Demanding compensation for the juvenile’s family, Owaisi alleged that instead of catching the culprits, the police are harassing Muslims.
A hashtag was run on social media as well in support of the juvenile. It was alleged that he was kept in jail. His family alleged that the police was demanding money to let him off. They believe that the juvenile had gone for offering namaz (Islamic prayer) at the mosque. His mother claims that when he was being picked up, the police had said he was just being taken for an identification parade. The mother claimed that he is just a child and was crying in the court.
What is Bihar Police saying
Bihar Police is saying that the juvenile is 13 years old and the claims that he is 8 years old are fake. Further, the police have clarified that he is not kept in jail but in a juvenile home, as per law. The station in-charge Pravin Prabhakar said to Zee News that an incorrect image is being made viral in name of the minor accused and that during questioning the juvenile admitted his age to be 13 years. Police also said that they have evidence of him being involved in stone-pelting.
Police also denied the allegations of demanding a bribe to let him off and said that more revelations will be done once the investigation progresses. SP Shailesh Singh said that the 13-year-old was not even handcuffed. After being produced before the court he was sent to the juvenile correction centre. He said that the image that has been making rounds on social media is old and misleading. Police have asserted that they have visuals which prove his involvement in stone-pelting.
Police further said that in Bihar, birth certificates are made at various places and if someone tomorrow comes up claiming his age is 5 years then it is not the fault of the police. Police also said that no one has subjected the juvenile accused to any form of harassment and that during questioning he had himself admitted to his age being 13 years.
On condition of anonymity, a police officer who is in the know said police can take anyone in their custody to court. In such a case, it is wrong to blame the police of putting handcuffs on the juvenile. As if they had done so, the judge would have reprimanded them. Police further said that the juvenile has accepted that he was asked to pelt stones but has not yet given names of who asked him to. When the Hindu side pelted stones, it was reactionary, police added.
What does the FIR state
An FIR has been registered in Siwan against 35 known and 100 unknown persons. In this, people of both communities are named. One Premchand, a resident of Lakhisarai, was appointed in charge of arrangements during the Mahaviri Akhada procession. Hence, on September 8, 2022, he was walking alongside the procession. In the procession, personnel from law enforcement agencies like police were also present.
The procession was to move to Hardia via the old bazaar area. On the road, there is also one masjid. In his FIR, he stated that at around 4:30-5:00 PM, when the azaan time had come, the procession was paused. After azaan was over, the procession also started moving forward slowly.
The FIR copy further states that near the masjid, the SDPO of Badharia was also there to maintain law and order. The procession moved ahead peacefully. In the tractor-trolly, the idol of Mahavir Ji was there. When the trolly reached the masjid, some people with lathis came forward and some anti-social elements of the Muslim community attacked them. FIR states that the Islamist mob was pelting stones from the masjid and also chanting communal slogans.
#BREAKING: Stone pelting from mosque on “Hindu Mahaviri Akhara procession” in Bihar’s Siwan, 18 people seriously injured (including 6 policemen who were shielding the procession). pic.twitter.com/HOcMtJPRyA— Public Press Journal (@thepublicnews24) September 11, 2022
The FIR further states that the Muslim mob also chanted anti-Hindu slogans and that the police kept requesting the mob to maintain peace and not create a ruckus. However, despite that, they attacked the police as well as the procession. Under a part of a larger conspiracy, they tried to prevent police from carrying out their duty, the FIR states. Despite additional police forces reaching the spot, the attacks did not stop. Along with anti-Hindu slogans, they also started chanting slogans against the police.
The FIR further mentions that along with chanting hateful slogans, they also started destroying the properties of nearby shops and setting things on fire. As the ruckus spread, the situation became communally charged. Several police personnel have suffered injuries in the stone pelting too. Among the 25 people who are named in the FIR, the youngest is a 13-year-old juvenile while the oldest is a 70-year-old Kasim Miyan. Police have stated that the rioters fled the area after police started using force.
Media propaganda against police action, Hindus are falsely being shown as aggressors
The police FIR mentions clearly that the Mahaviri Akhada was progressing peacefully without any incident, and was stopped at some distance when azan started playing at the mosque. Despite this, people like Meer Faisal and Ashraf Hssain are trying to whitewash the stone pelting done by the Islamists and are trying to use the women family members of the accused to present the Muslim side as victims of police action.
The FIR mentions clearly that the Islamic mob gathered at the mosque was being instigated with anti-Hindu sloganeering and was being instigated to pelt stones. The police have mentioned that the stone pelting from the Hindu side was in response to the same by the Islamic mob from the mosque.