IN just a couple of days, Babri Mandi in Aligarh has changed the way it functioned. These days, as soon as darkness descends on the Muslim-dominated area, shops down shutters and people return to their homes. All this happens as CRPF and police personnel keep watch, in the daytime as well as the curfew-bound nights.
For Mani Kumar, this is not the place he left behind when he went to Chandigarh on an official trip a week ago.
“I came back this morning (Saturday) and heard about the incident. Whatever is happening with the Hindus is wrong. How long are we supposed to tolerate?” he said after meeting the woman who was allegedly molested by local goons Wednesday, leading to the clash. He also met the local property dealer “to get an idea on how to sell my house for a better price”.
The woman told The Sunday Express in detail about the incident. “I thought I won’t be able to return home alive. They tried to get hold of my ‘pallu’ while I was on the bike (which her husband was riding). They held my neck and dragged me by hair towards a secluded lane. I shouted but no one came to help. When my husband intervened, he was attacked with a knife,” she said.
She claimed that the attackers took away her gold chain, ‘mangalsutra’ and her cell phone but police did not lodge a complaint of loot. “Police recovered the phone but could not tell about my other belongings,” she said, adding that she could identify the attackers but police were “refusing” to conduct an identification parade.
“I was born and raised in Babri Mandi. Nadeem (the main accused arrested in the case) and his aides have no work. All they do is threaten people and loot them,” said her husband.
After meeting Additional DM Awadhesh Tiwari on Friday with affidavits urging the administration to buy their houses and shops, most Hindu families have packed their bags. Police are reportedly trying to convince them to change their mind.
Members of Hindu and Muslim communities stand divided on the existing scenario.
“You can see that our daughters are all fine and our locality is calm. This is a conspiracy by the Hindus and the BJP men,” said a woman member of Nadeem’s family before shutting the door.
Mohiuddin, a local hardware shop owner, too blamed BJP and RSS, saying they are again showing their “true colours”.
Local Samajwadi Party leader Aeinuddin Qureshi pointed to a banner, reading ‘Mayor Shakuntala Bharti yahan Kairana banana chahti hain, hamein bachao (The Aligarh Mayor wants to turn this place into Kairana, save us)’
“See this? This is the reality of Babri Mandi,” he claimed.
BJP MP from Aligarh Satish Gautam who visited the woman Saturday, dared the miscreants: “Jisme himmat hai hamari bahu betion ko haath laga ke dikhaye. (Let he who dares keep a finger on the women in our families).”
After Gautam, Geeta Shakun Pandey, a Hindu Mahasabha leader, reached the woman’s house. She had an argument with the victim’s in-laws who asked her not to do “netagiri”.
Aligarh SSP Luv Kumar said police were conducting raids to arrest the other accused. Late in the evening, police claimed to have arrested one more accused, Shahdaab. “No one needs to feel threatened or leave their house. Police will take action against all those who take law and order in their hands,” he said.