After right-wing mob ‘raids’ on Jan 22, Muslims in Nagpur face legal action

At least 12 Muslim men were jailed for three days after clashes broke during a rally that was taken out by right-wing groups on January 22 in Mominapura, Nagpur, Maharashtra

The nation witnessed several acts of communal violence in days following the January 22 temple consecration ceremony in Ayodhya. Reports of two such incidents have surfaced from Nagpur.

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According to reports, 12 Muslim men have been booked in Nagpur, who are aged between 23 and 30 years, including three minors. Muslim men were jailed for three days after clashes broke during a rally that was taken out on January 22 in Mominapura, Nagpur, Maharashtra, to celebrate the consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

“After offering Namaz, I left Jama Masjid at approximately 3 pm while still wearing my skullcap,” Faiz (name changed), a 23-year-old who was detained by police said. “Some men drove their motorcycle over my leg, and some men came towards us with saffron flags raising hateful slogans,” he was quoted by The Quint.

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The right-wing mob takes out a rally in Mominpura on January 22

According to Faiz and the other youngsters, the clashes escalated after a physical altercation between right-wing men who had taken out a rally and local Muslim residents. Hundreds of right-wing individuals from Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) then joined in.

Some local Muslims residents, including a 30-year-old, who has been named in a case filed later, had actually tried to separate the clashing factions.

“Among other things, we heard them chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Mulle Kaate jaayenge (Muslims will be slaughtered)’ while we were just nine or ten people there. They had rallied in a similar manner the night before. In front of the police, they had yelled similar phrases, yet nothing was done,” media reports quote another local resident.

The right-wing crowd had supposedly gone to the chowk and falsely claimed some people ‘insulted Ram’.

Those who were arrested alleged that police tortured them. “The police also tortured and mistreated us while we were in police custody. They kept telling us that we would have to come here for every festival. Another female cop entered and told us to ‘go to Pakistan’ and labeled us ‘terrorists’. Even the second policeman who had physically assaulted us warned her not to make such comments again,” the accused said.

All of them were booked under several sections of IPC for ‘rioting’ and ‘using weapons to cause harm’.

After their arrest, a local social activist and businessman, Javed Akhtar, provided assistance with getting them bail.

Niketan Kiledar, the investigating officer in the case, told The Quint, “It was not a rally per se, just 4-5 people on a bike with flags in front of Unani Medical College in Mominpura. The accused were waiting at the scene, and when these guys reached the area, they stopped and beat them with lathis. They questioned them about why they were chanting Jai Shri Ram and hit them.”

No distinct path was designated, according to Kiledar, because ‘it was not a rally’. He also stated that at the time of filing chargesheet, the juveniles would have legal representation before the magistrate in juvenile justice court.

“We are still investigating. If we still get more evidence, then we will take action accordingly,” he stated.

In another incident, Mehjabeen Malik and her family residing in Yashodara Nagar were also targetted on January 22. The seven-member family had moved to Yashodara Nagar to avoid any adverse incidents. However, at around 8:00 pm on the same day, they returned and saw that the clothes they had kept in their balcony had been burned.

“They were enraged with my husband when he urged them to fire the crackers a little further from our residence. After that, a group of 100–200 men brandishing swords mercilessly started beating us all. That is when we decided to leave the house for a few days,” Mehjabeen said.

A video of the incident shows the damaged caused to their house. A bike, scooter, and meters have been smashed, and the doors have been broken open. The furniture inside the house and floor tiles were also damaged.

Later, when authorities arrived at the spot, five of the seven members, including the two minors, were admitted to Indira Gandhi Medical College for treatment after being beaten up.

“They hit everyone of us on our heads. My brother-in-law’s ribs were shattered, my kid received five stitches and a sword cut part of his ear. I received six stitches and a fractured shoulder. The boys left him believing he was dead since he had been battered so hard that he was immobile,” Malik claimed.

After learning from a local that the family’s home had been invaded, Shahrukh Khan, who works in the distribution of mineral water and for the NGO Noorie Mehfil, helped the family financially.

Malik went with Khan to file a police complaint. “When we went to the police station, they acknowledged the attack on the family and the house and told us that we would get Rs 2 lakh in compensation.”

Senior Police Inspector Bhedudkar of the same station told The Quint, “At this point, no arrests have been made. We are identifying the accused with the help of videos. We’re still looking into it because the family is receiving medical attention, and two men on the other side also sustained injuries,” he continued.

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