Hindu-Muslim relations in Azamgarh remain intact

Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net,

New Delhi: Notwithstanding media’s less-than-neutral reporting of Batla House encounter and subsequent arrest of some Azamgarh youths from Jamia Nagar and police and intelligence agencies’ attitude towards Muslims in Azamgarh, the communal harmony and good relationship between Hindus and Muslims there have remained intact.

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In the encounter two Muslim youths from the district were killed and five others were later arrested from the area. Police, STF and ATS pounced on Muslim pockets in Azamgarh including Sanjarpur and Sarai Meer. Azamgarh Muslims were seen as suspected terrorists and many were picked from here and there. Adding to the woes of local Muslims, some Hindutva leaders and politicians tried to vitiate the situation. But the response from local public was exemplary.

Sarai Meer Railway Station

“The incident did not affect the relations between Hindus and Muslims. We have good relations with them. Hindus here are very good, better than Muslims. We have always lived together and shared our happiness and sorrow,” said Shadab Ahmad, father of Saif, the Sanjarpur youth arrested from L-18 in Batla House area where the encounter took place on September 19.

“Whenever media asked us about me and my children and family, I told them to ask the question to our fellow Hindu villagers. And every Hindu told them about us and the village” Shadab told TwoCircles.net.

“Media has committed wrong by presenting accused as convict and this will create and widen gulf between Hindus and Muslims. This should be contained,” he said.

Dr. Sunil Kumar Yadav in Sarai Meer categorically rejected the view that the recent developments have affected Hindu-Muslim relations.

“I daily attend around 300 patients; of them around 200 are Muslims. They are coming as usual. Had there been any rift between the communities, this could have been seen. I assure you there has not been any effect of the issue on Hindu Muslim relations and there has not been any communal feeling there,” he told TCN.

“People of this area are best in the country. There hasn’t been any communal tension or feeling here. There has not been any communal clash here in my lifetime. Hindus and Muslims are living here cordially,” he said.

He termed as false propaganda the point that terrorists are being trained at Madrasatul Islah. “This is false, there is no such thing at the madrasa. It cannot be true. Such allegations are tarnishing the image of the area. The government should first investigate. To call any one terrorist without investigation is wrong. I oppose it,” he said.

Dr Yadav’s assistant Anil Yadav sees politics behind the issue. “It is a political stunt of the Congress. Politicians want to instigate communal feeling for the coming elections. It is nothing to do with reality. People of Sarai Meer are very good. Political forces want to create some rift among people,” he said.

Dr Shahid Badr Falahi, ex-president of banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), lives and runs one of his Unani medical clinics in a village where Hindus are more than 90%. Despite his organization banned on terrorism charges and him being imprisoned for the same, his relations with his fellow Hindu villagers are very good.

“In my village, Hindus and Muslims have shared their happiness and sorrow. They invite us at their wedding ceremony and so do we. There has never been any communal feeling or hatred among people from either community,” he said.

“Some anti-social elements from outside the district came and tried to instigate communal violence but they failed. Very recently Aditya Nath Yogi, BJP MP from Gorakhpur, had come here and tried to push the city into communal riot but people from the majority community did not respond to his move and the city remained almost peaceful because local Hindus did want communal clash,” he said.

Mohd. Azam, Pradhan (village head) of Bhavapur in Azamgarh echoes Badr’s views. His Bhavapur has Hindus and Muslims in 75:25 ratio.

Mohd. Azam, Pradhan of Bhavapur

“People have been living mutually. There is no communal feeling there. The recent developments have not made any dent in the strong communal harmony in my village,” said Azam, a Jamiatul Falah and Shibli College graduate.

Roop Chand, an employee of Shibli College, lives in a Muslim-dominated village. He says the alleged involvement of local youths in terrorism has not affected the social and communal atmosphere here. “I have never felt threatened from my Muslim fellow villagers in the changed scenario,” he said.

Mohd. Belal, ex-president of Students Union of Shibli College says the issue has not affected the relations between Hindus and Muslims.

Mohd. Belal, ex-president of Students Union, Shibli College

With the support of local Hindus youth leader Arif Rizwan formed Azamgarh Swabhiman Manch to counter the attempts to tarnish the image of the district. Belal has also actively worked with the Manch.

“Several business associations are also with the Manch, Hindus are actively taking part in it condemning the allegation of terrorism against Azamgarh people,” he said. Hindus are also angry with the attempts to tarnish the image of the district by calling it ‘Atankgarh’ even before any Azamgarh youth proved guilty on terrorism charge.