Hyderabad cops on edge in Begum Bazar over Marwadi-Yadav conflict

The supposed honour killing of a young Marwadi man over his marriage with his now widowed wife from the Yadav community has led to simmering tensions in the area between both communities.

Hyderabad: Although 10 days have passed since the murder of a Marwadi man at Begum Bazar by men from the Yadav community, the city police seem to be struggling hard to maintain a semblance of peace in the area. The youngster, Neeraj Panwar, was killed by relatives of his now widowed wife Sanjana.

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Sanjana’s family belongs to the Yadav community. (which falls under the Backward Class fold). Neeraj was hacked to death on May 29 when he was going on an Activa along with his grandfather. He had married Sanjana last year against the wishes of her family and the couple even had a two-month-old child.

The Hyderabad police soon arrested nine persons including three minors in connection with the case and all of them are relatives of Sanjana. Though the police ruled out an honour killing angle in the case, locals have however said otherwise, categorically stating it is the prime reason for the murder.

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The tension in Hyderabad’s Begum Bazar is still quite palpable after the murder of Neeraj, as constant protest programs are being held to keep the issue burning. After the incident, for example, a bandh was held the next day and a massive protest rally was taken out.

Post murder, protests still continue

Shops and commercial establishments at Begum Bazaar market, one of the busiest commercial areas dominated by the Rajasthani Marwari community, were shut to register their protest against the killing.

The Marwadi community members also staged a sit-in at the Shahinyathgunj police station demanding stringent action and fair probe in the case. After assurances of senior police officials the protestors dispersed. On the third day after the supposed honour killing, a massive candle light rally was organized in protest by the Marwadi community in Begum Bazaar.

The Marwadi community members also met Hyderabad Lok Sabha member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi, Telangana director of police M Mahender Reddy, state home minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali and leaders of various political parties demanding action against the killers. They also demanded protection to them and their businesses.

After seeing the ongoing developments, the Yadav community for some reason felt it had to react. Members of the community, particularly family members of the accused in the murder case, went to the Human Rights Commission demanding safety of the youngsters who were caught for allegedly murdering Neeraj.

‘Wounds will not heal soon’

The Yadav community also demanded police protection suspecting attacks from Marwadi community, particularly from the family and relatives of Neeraj. A petition was also submitted at the Afzalgunj police station where both the families demanded police protection.

People familiar with the history of Begum Bazaar, Feelkhana and Afzalgunj where both the communities have been generally residing for decades, said that wounds ‘will not heal soon’ and that in the coming days, the divide between the communities would widen for sure.

“Already some vested interests in both the communities are instigating both families. From an issue involving two families it reached a conflict between two communities residing here with more and more people joining in. For sure the local political leaders in either of the communities will try to cash the issue for their own benefit,” said a local leader from Begum Bazaar stated.

Those familiar with the happenings in these areas explain that there is a heartburn in the youth of Yadav community following the marriage of a girl from their community to a man belonging to another group. The marriage became a public talk a year ago amongst youngsters. “It hurt them a lot,” remarked a local from Begum Bazar.

“They see it as a case where someone from a northern Indian state who came and settled for business purposes in Hyderabad lured and married a girl from their community,” said a local leader, who was unwilling to be named.

The local Marwadi community, which stay alongside Yadavs at Begum Bazar from decades, knows that the latter’s might and power very well. “Yadavs have been living here for generations. Other than the milk business, they are known for their wrestling akhadas in the Begum Bazaar. To be frank, the Marwadi community is totally shaken by the brutal murder,” he added.

Marwadi families from Rajasthan migrated to Hyderabad at the behest of fifth Nizam in the wake of drought-induced agrarian crises back in their home state in the 19th century. The migration to the princely state of Hyderabad (1724-1948), run by the Asaf Jahi rulers, or Nizams, continued well into the 20th century as well, with many Marwadis setting up various businesses across the city. Many of them have also settled in parts of Secunderabad.

For most parts, those belonging to Hindu communities participated in religious festivals collectively for most parts. However, in the last one year, about a dozen cases of young boys and girls belonging to different castes eloping were reported under the Afzalgunj, Shahinayathgunj, Kulsumpura and Mangalhat police stations.

Hyderabad police keeping a tight vigil in the area

In the midst of this growing unrest, the Hyderabad police is trying to keep things under control. In the cause of Neeraj’s murder, his houses and that of the killers are all located in the Afzalgunj police station limits, while their businesses fall under the Shahinyathgunj station limits.

C V Anand, commissioner of police, Hyderabad, who visited the house of Neeraj, spoke to his wife Sanjana and other family members and assured them of a speedy trial in the case. Anand also said their family will be protected. He interacted with the members of both the communities and asked them not to aggravate the things further a day earlier.

Police officials are also keeping a close watch in the areas to prevent any trouble now or later. Patrolling is done day and night, and whenever necessary, bandobast arrangements are made in the area to prevent trouble. “We feel they should allow law to take its own course. Simply going here and there is of no help because already we booked cases and arrested the suspects,” said an official who supervised the Neeraj murder case.

The biggest challenge for the Hyderabad police now is to prevent counter attacks or mischief attempts in Begum Bazar and its surrounding areas. Rowdy sheets have also been reportedly opened against all those arrested for their involvement in the murder case.

“In police parlance we say a new gang is formed in the area. So more monitoring needs to be done on the accused persons if at all they come out on bail, the task ahead is tough,” said a police official working at Afzalgunj police station, who was unwilling to be quoted.

Begum Bazaar being one of the biggest commercial areas of Hyderabad, with daily revenue turnover running into crores of rupees, is a bustling place.

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