The Divisive Politics of Communalism

Infographic source: Time of India, September 10, 2013, Ahmedabad edition

Infographic source: Time of India, September 10, 2013, Ahmedabad edition

By Priya Prasad

A series of events led to the build-up of the violence: it started with the harassing of a Hindu teenage girl by a Muslim boy at Kawal village which resulted in community clashes on August 27. As an isolated case of crime, this is a commonplace incident in a region where people are killed for “dishonouring” the community.

Following this, the situation further intensified on August 30 when many inflammatory speeches were made at a meeting by Muslim leaders from the Congress, SP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Furthermore, on September 3, a fake video was circulated showing the deaths of boys from the Jat community. As a reaction to this, local Hindu leaders organised a mahapanchayat—allegedly the BJP was behind this—which was as incendiary as the August 30 meeting.

On September 7, after the meeting at the mahapanchayat, Muzaffarnagar city descended into violence, leading to a curfew.

In all of this, police inaction was stark; no leaders were arrested for making those provocative speeches and neither was anything done when the public gatherings took place despite Section 144 being enforced which prohibits such large-scale meetings.

The demographic make-up of Muzaffarnagar, comprising Jats and Muslims, make it a breeding ground of sorts for communal conflagration, and this is exactly what the political class took advantage of. Analysts say that it is not religion but a combination of caste, community and land politics that has spurred the violence.

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