Muslim protesters clash with police
Men gathered in a huddle well past midnight Sunday, family members debating what to do next, dark and deserted lanes, and no policemen or political leaders in sight, there is fear and anger in a Muslim village 18 km from Jamshedpur city.
In the mayhem of Thursday night when tribal mobs went on a rampage over rumours of child snatching, three men of Haldipokor and a visitor were among the six lynched. Muslim cattle traders Naim, Sheikh Sajju, Sheikh Siraj and Sheikh Halim were chased for close to two hours before being beaten to death in the tribal-dominated area of Rajnagar. The family members received their bodies on Saturday.
“Had police listened to us and taken action, this would not have happened. I kept calling them,” says Syed Zabiullah, the gram panchayat pradhan of Haldipokhor, pointing out that the men who managed to escape were caught later and beaten up by the mob.
On Saturday, Muslim protesters clashed with police in different parts of Jamshedpur town, and have called for a shutdown. Police had to resort to lathicharge and teargas shelling, as agitators pelted stones and bricks, blocked roads and tried to down shutters of shops and business establishments.
Zabiullah asked why no arrests had been made. “We gave pictures and videos of those involved in the killings to the police. They are known faces and we have identified some. But we do not know why they have not been arrested. This incident will create a divide in the society,” he warns. The four dead were Muslims, while the accused are all tribals.
Community members have refused the Rs 2 lakh compensation offered by the government and submitted a long list of demands, including Rs 25 lakh each as relief, government jobs to families of the victims, a ration shop and anganwadi centre in the village, houses under Central government schemes, apart from immediate arrest. No political leaders have visited Haldipokhor so far, and the villagers submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister through the district administration on Saturday.
The village, surrounded by a tribal belt, has over 1,200 Muslim families, who have been living here for three generations. Most of the Muslims are affluent traders.—INP