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The Asian Age, Vol.3, No.65, Mon., 6 March 2000, p.1
New UP Population Policy targets minorities

by Purnima S. Tripathi New Delhi, March 5:

After bringing in the controversial legislation banning construction of religious places without prior permission of the state authorities, the Uttar Pradesh government has now decided to introduce a population policy which will target specific groups and communities which have a higher rate of growth of population.

Announcing the decision, Uttar Pradesh chief minister R.P. Gupta said, "There are groups and communities which feel that if they go on increasing their number they will capture power one day. Such a way of thinking has to be disincentivised". The disincentive, to begin with, means debarring those having more than two children from contesting panchayat elections, he said.

The state government's new population policy, the chief minister said, would come into effect within three months.

The chief minister said that in order to control population there "should be some restrictions on contesting elections, only then can the menace be controlled". Mr Gupta made these announcements on Thursday while addressing a three-day conference on population issues in Lucknow.

Opposition parties, however, have cried foul.

They say this obviously is yet another move by the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh to target the minorities, especially Muslims.

Congress state president Salman Khurshid, told The Asian Age "It is obviously directed at the minorities, especially Muslims". Mr Khurshid said he was not at all surprised at the announcement, knowing Mr Gupta's track record, but he was shocked at the audacity of it all.

"Mr Gupta is blatantly implementing the RSS agenda. He represents the core of RSS and BJP, with all its warts and moles, without the sugar-coating that they have in Delhi. He is taking the original RSS position, which has always been targeted against the minorities," he said. Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, too, minced no words while lashing out at the Gupta government.

"This is a direct attack, the second in a row after the religious places legislation, on the minorities. The RSS agenda, so far hidden, is now out in the open. Gupta is only repeating the established Sangh line on Muslims whom the RSS ideologue Golwalkar described as "videshi" and said their population needed to be controlled otherwise they would capture power one day. According to Mr Amar Singh, the basic intention of having such a policy was not to control population but target the minorities. Population cannot be controlled by enacting legislation. Sanjay Gandhi tried doing this during the Emergency and that cost Indira Gandhi her government. After China, UP is the only place to have such a legislation in the world to control population, he said, adding, "Obviously Gupta is only implementing the Sangh agenda with its full backing". Though political observers feel UP needed a population policy they, however, said there should be only one criteria, economic criteria, for defining "groups and communities". In this case, however, they said the Uttar Pradesh government's intentions appeared "suspect" because of Mr Gupta's political track record.

Mr Gupta's recent statements that he would not mind having a Ram temple constructed at Ayodhya, provided it was done peacefully, had political parties up in arms.

Then he brought the religious places legislation banning construction of places of worship without prior permission of the state government, which created yet another furore. According to political observers, the population policy is yet another attempt by the Gupta government to target minorities for discrimination and attack.


The Week, Oct 31, 1999
Festering Wounds:

Bhagalpur: Ten Years after the Communal Killings, the Victims' Families are yet to overcome their Misery.

By Kanhaiah Bhelari

Bibi Shakina of Logai village saw her husband being chopped to pieces ten years ago. Today, she suffers a fate worse than death while her husband's killers roam free. "I would have committed suicide but I want to marry off my three daughters," she says, her eyes betraying her trauma. Chasing a mirage: Bibi Fatima, whose husband was killed, is yet to get compensation Her husband was among the 116 persons who were killed in a communal riot in Logai in Bhagalpur district on October 27, 1989. It was one of the worst communal riots, with more than a thousand killed in the district. The rioters in Logai buried the bodies in a field and planted vegetables there, defying curfew.

Shakina, in her statement before a magistrate, named the killers and a police officer in charge of Jagdishpur and the block development officer who allegedly helped in burying the bodies. Some of them tried to intimidate her into withdrawing the case. They needn't have: the case has not yet come up for hearing. Kamaru Rehman, a special public prosecutor, says the delay is mainly because some of the accused are absconding. But he also blames the police for not showing any keenness to trace them.

After Shakina had moved to Babura village with her young children, some villagers in Logai started cultivating her 44 bighas of land. She holds Sadanand Singh, a former mukhiya, responsible for inciting the encroachers. "The district magistrate and the police superintendent haven't shown any interest in solving the problem," she says.

Those who had migrated from Logai to Pithna and Babura, after the massacre, never mustered courage to return, even though strangers had usurped their land. Sadanand Singh has been trying to persuade Shakina and others like her to sell off their land at throwaway prices. His offered Rs 14,000 per bigha while the market rate was Rs 50,000. Shakina alleges that he threatened to kill her son Mohamed Ansar if she did not accept the price he offered. Fearing for her son, she made him discontinue his intermediate course at Bhagalpur and stay with her. The only one who went back to his land in Logai was Mohamed Nazim, whose wife and two children had been killed in the riots. Two years after the return, in January 1990, he remarried but trouble has not stopped haunting them. There have been frequent thefts, and his mother Jilabin Khatun says, "Bad elements are doing all this to make us leave. But we will stay here till we die."

Malka Begum, whose leg was chopped off, was rescued by soldiers from a pond. One soldier from J&K married her but he took away the compensation and deserted her and their children.

More wrenching is the plight of Malka Begum of Chanderi, whose leg was chopped off. The marauders, who killed 66 persons in her village, left her in a pond for dead. Soldiers rescued her and took her to a hospital. A soldier, Mohamed Taj from Punchh in J&K, who was posted in Bhagalpur to restore normalcy, married her. He turned out to be worse than her attackers: he took away her compensation and deserted her and their two kids. She filed a case against him in 1993 but has got no relief till now. Nor has she got the job that Laloo Prasad Yadav promised as chief minister. All that she has is a monthly allowance of Rs 100 for the handicapped, and a piece of land that Gulam Sarvar granted as Governor. He also gave her an artificial leg.

Another casualty of the riots has been the silk industry that employed 10,000 labourers in handlooms and powerlooms. They are now jobless. "We became paupers," says Majahar Shamim, who once earned crores from the industry. In all, 811 FIRs had been filed after the riots. The police filed 302 chargesheets, and the lower courts have disposed of 152 cases, acquitting the accused in 119 cases. In the remaining 33 cases, the district and sessions court punished many of the accused with life imprisonment. Most of them have appealed to the High Court. The other cases are pending before the special courts. The state government gave compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to the families of 634 victims. Some also got Rs 10,000 from the Prime Minister's Relief Fund.

The administration rejected 169 pleas for compensation. Special public prosecutor Kamaru Rehman has referred some of these to the Lok Ayukta. "The district administration may be short of funds. Otherwise, there is no reason to reject the genuine claims of the victims," says Rehman. He points out that the sessions court has directed the district administration to pay compensation in some of these cases. "For example, the police have admitted in court that rioters killed the husband of Bibi Fatima. But she hasn't got any compensation," he says. Shakina (left, with daughters) moved to Babura village after her husband was murdered. The villagers started cultivating her land. Every working day, Fatima walks 10 kilometres from her village, Sihnan, to Rehman's chamber in the court premises to find out the progress of her case. "She doesn't have any land or money, and one of her daughters died a few years ago," says Rehman. As the photographer clicks, the tearful woman asks if she has finally been awarded compensation. "Never mind. She has lost some of her balance," says Rehman. The delay would do that to anyone. "I suspect that the state government is deliberately going slow on the matter," says Rehman. He says that most of the accused have got bail while others are persuading the appellants to withdraw their cases. Some witnesses do not turn up during hearings as the police do not provide them any security. Bibi Shajahan of Bhagalpur had accused a dozen policemen of murdering her husband Hanif, who was a peon in the district magistrate's office. All the accused got anticipatory bail. Similarly, all the 24 accused involved in the riots in Chanderi got bail. The hearing in these cases is yet to begin.

The state government had constituted three special courts, exclusively for riot cases. It also appointed two special public prosecutors (SPPs), who were later replaced by five SPPs in 1995. A special court judge told The Week that the police were not keen on producing the witnesses or tracing the accused, even after receiving several court notices. On the other hand, many people like Mohamed Shakeel Ahmed claim that the police falsely implicated them. "I was a true follower of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru," says Ahmed. "I got awards for restoring peace from several organisations like the Gandhi Pratisthan." He was in love with a girl but didn't want to marry until he had cleared himself of the charges. On August 5 this year, he was acquitted but his sweetheart had already become another man's wife. "The police ruined my life," he wails. With financial help from Tisco, the district administration had built 200 houses at three riot-hit villages for those affected. But in Chanderi, only 5 of the 27 affected families live in these houses. The rest are occupied by anti-socials. Malka says that the families had suggested certain sites for their relocation but the district administration paid no heed. The riot-hit families have no hope that the marauders will ever be brought to book. At best, some innocent people will be made scapegoats, they say. Experience has made them bitter cynics.


Economic and Political Weekly, Vol.5 (Jan. 1970), Nos.3-5
1969 Communal Riots in Ahmedabad: Orgy of Violence

" ... Atrocities multiplied by the evening when several poor labourers were either burnt alive or murdered. In some places they were thrown into fires. Scythes, axes, knives and spears were used for killing people. Women were raped or stripped bare and forced to walk naked on the road; Muslim children were beaten against stones or their legs were torn apart. Limbs were cut out of dead bodies, women's breast were cut and sex organs were mutilated or torn apart. In this mad orgy, animal instincts of the worst kind seem to have got hold of the people of Ahmedabad.

The riots had spread from Ahmedabad into various parts of the state. Trains were not spared. On the 20th night, when several Muslims were escaping from Ahmedabad, four trains were stopped and seventeen passengers killed. On the 23 September, when the Government lifted the curfew for three hours, forty persons lost their lives.

The orgy of violence - massacre, arson and looting - continued non-stop for three days. By Tuesday (23 September) afternoon Ahmedabad was under the control of the army. The coming of the army brought about a radical change in the situation, but scattered instances of stabbing continued to take place for more than a month. More than one thousand people. a large majority of them Muslim, lost their lives. Several hundreds ran away to their native villages. About fifteen thousand took shelter in relief camps. Fire destroyed 3969 dwellings and shops and 2317 more were physically destroyed. About 6000 fanmiles lost their belongings and shelter. The value of property destroyed ran into crores of rupees. There was a loss of income of at least 33.70 crores as a result of the inactivity caused by the imposition of the curfew."


Economic and Political Weekly, Vol.5 (Jan. 1970), Nos.3-5
1969 Communal Riots in Ahmedabad

20 Sept. 1969

" ... [ The ] Hindus forced the Muslims also to shout 'Jai Jagannath'. A gruesome episode in the afternoon brings out the depth of animosity against the Muslims. A young Muslim, enraged by the destruction of his property said he would take revenge. Upon this the crowd seized him, showered blows on him and tried to force him to shout 'Jai Jagannath'. Staying firm, the youth refused even if that meant death. To this someone in the crowd responded that he may indeed be done away with. Wood from broken shops were collected. a pyre prepared in the middle of the road, petrol sprinkled on the pyre as well as the youth, and he was set alight with ruthless efficiency. What is remarkable is that there was no resistance from any Hindu. The wails of the Muslim inhabitants of the area were drowned in the celebration of the incident by the Hindus. Thereafter, the riots took a new turn - from looting and arson to murder and physical attacks. Upto now incidents of killing had been sporadic; they now became frequent and organised on a large scale.

By the afternoon the flames of Gita Mandir and Raipur had spread through the whole town - labour as well as upper class areas. The mob violence that was let loose did not spare even the Sabarmati Ashram, when in the evening a relatively small crowd of about fifty people went to the Ashram to attack Imam Manzil, the house of 70-year old Gulam Rasoon Qureishi, and Ashram inmate since 1921. For him, it should be noted, this was not the first attack by communalists. In 1939 he had been assaulted by Muslim Leaguers. But this time as the ashramites stood together against the crowd, no serious damage was done to Imam Manzil. However, the house of Qureshi's two sons one of whose Hindu wife still practices the Hindu religion, was set aflame burning both the Quran and the Ramayana."


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