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Why There is Sudden 'Spurt' in Communal Tensions Involving Minorities in Uttarakhand?

Dehradun-based political commentator SMA Kazmi says that the communal tensions are part of a broader political game. He claims such incidents over frivolous reasons skyrocketed after March 2017 when the BJP came to power in the state.

Anupam Trivedi | News18

Updated:August 2, 2018, 9:20 AM IST
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Why There is Sudden 'Spurt' in Communal Tensions Involving Minorities in Uttarakhand?
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Dehradun: Raju Rehman (48) has been running a jewelry shop since two decades in mofussil Ghansali town of Tehri district, 110 kms from here. For years he has lived in peace with the local Hindu community. This bonhomie was broken earlier this week when a Muslim boy was reportedly caught with a teenage girl in a hotel. The incident soon snowballed into major controversy. Eighteen-year-old accused Azad Alvi, a barber by profession, was thrashed and later booked under the POCSO Act. The girl was also sent to the shelter home.

“I fail to understand why there is a sudden spurt in similar nature of the incidents involving minorities. For years there was no problem but now I am concerned,” Rehman says. But the right wing organisations like Bajrang Dal feel the clashes are linked to ‘criminal acts’ of the outsiders.

“A lot of outsiders are entering the Garhwal hills. Who are they, where are they coming from, who is funding them?” asks Dinesh Bisht associated with Bajrang Dal in Tehri district. Bisht goes on to add that trouble creators won’t be spared.

In fact, the Ghansali incident is not the isolated one. In April this year, shops of minorities were vandalised in Agastyamuni town in Rudraprayag district after a Facebook post claimed that a boy raped a girl.

In July 2017, Satpuli town in Pauri Garhwal district witnessed communal clashes after a teenage boy was charged with insulting Hindu shrine in his Facebook profile.

Moreover, last year also saw two communities fighting in Raiwala, a town situated along Dehradun – Haridwar highway, over an alleged “illegal” relation between a couple. Police had a tough time in managing the situation as the speaker of Uttarakhand Assembly PC Agarwal intervened in the matter.

There had been nearly a dozen odd similar incidents in the Garhwal region in last one year. As per 2011 census, Muslim population is 13.95% in the hill state and majority of the population lives in Dehradun, Nainital, Haridwar and US Nagar districts.

Dehradun-based political commentator SMA Kazmi says that the communal tensions are part of a broader political game. He claims such incidents over frivolous reasons skyrocketed after March 2017 – the year when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government was voted to power in Uttarakhand.

“It is all about sending a message. Most of the Muslim men doing small businesses in Uttarakhand come from Uttar Pradesh and if such incidents repeat then they might return to the parent state,” Kazmi says.

Uttarakhand was carved out of UP in 2000. A substantial number of people from the western Uttar Pradesh have business interests in the hill state. Muslims are mostly engaged in works like vegetable selling, hair cutting and doing similar odd jobs.

Md Jamil is one who works as a car painter in Dehradun.

“Uttarakhand provides an employment opportunity. Five more members from my family in Meerut have joined me,” says Jamil.

Recently, Rastriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) leader Indresh Kumar said here that Uttarakhand was facing “cultural threat” and people were losing “livelihood opportunities” owing to migration of "outsiders" to Uttarakhand.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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