Sangareddy riots: Politics of truth

By: Prof. Rama Melkote

Sangareddy riots need to be understood in the context of the Telangana movement. The argument that a separate Telangana State would be unsafe for the Muslim Community is being propagated by some parties and a small section of the Community.

Such parties gain mileage from these riots. Those who desire a separate Telangana State, dream of carving out a State that will be a truly democratic State, ensuring social justice, devoid of discrimination of all kinds based on gender, caste, community and tribe.

It is for the Telangana movement and its leaders to realize that dream. The Muslim community plays a crucial role in the movement notwithstanding the stand of MIM. Electoral calculations are short sighted and can prove disastrous for the movement.

Several fact finding Committees have visited Sangareddy post “communal riots”. Most reports have talked about the facts of the riots and have held the local MLA, the police as responsible and about targeting of the Muslim community by Hindu mobs. Inevitably, Hindus were also attacked.

Former TRS MLC Satyanarayana narrated that a group of Muslim youth went to the police station to express their anguish and anger at the picture in the Face Book of Lord Rama attacking a mosque and the massive posters of gods all over the town.

They demanded that these be removed. The CI did not respond and the youth resorted to peaceful dharna within 100 metres radius of the police station. The Ramalayam and the local MLA Jagga Reddy’s house which are within 200 meters radius. Within a short while the local Hindus began to attack the small shops owned by Muslims and set fire to several of them – bakeries, paan shops, hotels. Etc.

Two other youngsters who joined us said that the police force was not enough to control the miscreants as they were few and the mob was big and armed with stones and other weapons.

In retaliation, the Muslims attacked the big grain shop belonging to one Shankar. This shop stored grain and also furniture. The owners live upstairs and there are tenants living in the building. The shop is reduced to ashes. The members of the family wept as the wedding of the daughter is fast approaching.

What needs to be underscored in our dialogue with most people we spoke to is that they all think it is instigated by the local MLA who with his followers, Hindus and some Muslims, carried out the carnage. Many, particularly the young people, Muslims and Hindus, expressed their unhappiness over the Mahbubnagar results.

The Muslim community feels let down by the stand of the Political JAC in the elections which has resulted in the defeat of Ibrahim. They feel that this has given a boost to the BJP. This feeling cannot be underestimated. It is unfortunate that the T JAC’s electoral miscalculations have led it into a trap.

An all party meeting with the District collector was held.

There seems to be an agreement that the riots were premeditated and organized. Our team made a plea for the immediate payment of compensation to those who lost their livelihoods.

Money and muscle power are contributing to the commercialization of religion and promoting fundamentalism with the patronage of political parties. We need to evolve ways of coming out of these fundamentalist approaches to religion towards an inclusive and democratic society. Otherwise, there is always an ambience conducive for communal and political violence.

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