The communal clash had erupted over a series of provocative social media posts revolving around the controversial Hindi film, 'The Kerala Story', leaving eight persons injured. Two shops were ransacked and burnt down in the village. Representative pic

Gujarat: Muslims scared, in fear of police action after communal clash in Patan

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In the aftermath of the communal clash that had broken out in Balisana village in Patan district in north Gujarat on the night of July 16, Muslim residents in the area are scared and live in constant fear of police action against them.

The communal clash had erupted over a series of provocative social media posts revolving around the controversial Hindi film, ‘The Kerala Story’, leaving eight persons injured. Two shops were ransacked and burnt down in the village.

This led Patan police to arrest 10 people, out of which, eight were Muslims. Both communities lodged two FIRs as per Patan police. As part of the investigation on Monday (July 17), the police took some of the accused to the Masjid Chowk area in Balisana where the incident had occurred. A video of this police exercise, called “reconstruction of the crime”, also went viral on social media platforms.

Mujahid Nafees, a minority rights activist based in Gujarat, told The Federal that noticeably only the Muslim men who were arrested were paraded around town by the local police.  “Ten people were arrested but only the Muslim men were paraded by the local police. Thereafter, they brazenly raided the Muslim households the whole night picking up and detaining Muslim men. They kept asking if there were any Bangladeshi residents amongst them,” claimed Nafees.

Further, Nafees added they were “baffled” as to why the local police would search for Bangladeshi citizens out of the blue. “Muslims in Balisana are now scared as police is randomly picking men from houses,” added Nafees.

Also read: Gujarat: 10 held over provocative social media post results in communal clash

Meanwhile, according to KK Pandya, the superintendent of police, Patan district, the 10 arrested men were remanded to police custody until July 21. “We are investigating further into the matter,” said Pandya. The situation has been brought under control, said the police.

Explaining how the communal clash broke out, the SP said the riot was sparked by a social media post posted by a local Krish Patel. “The post was religious in nature and Muslims of the village had objected to it. After which, the elders of both communities reached an agreement and the issue was sorted out. However, later, members of both communities armed with rods and pipes resorted to rioting and eight persons were injured,” said the SP, adding that the police has taken complaints from both sides.

The first FIR related to the post was lodged around 1 am on July 17 by Meetkumar Patel, a 27-year-old resident of the village. The FIR stated: “While he along with his friends were taking a stroll at Masjid Chowk on July 16, a mob of around 35 to 40 people came from a mosque from the opposite side of the road and surrounded them. They inquired their names and threatened to kill them. Soon the mob started attacking them with iron pipes, rods, knives, swords and other weapons.”

Also read: Gujarat police accused of apathy as atrocities against Dalits continue

After the FIR by Meetkumar Patel, another FIR was filed by one Arif Shaikh against two men of the village – Krish Patel and Nimesh Patel. The second FIR said: “Arif Shaikh and his uncle Ilyas Shaikh was attacked by the duo despite a mutual agreement by the community elders over the social media post to not get into a further feud. The Patel men hit them with a steel rod and hurled stones at them.”

Inspector J S Chaudhary of Balisana police station confirmed that they have arrested ten persons so far and out of them, eight are Muslims and the other two men are Hindus. “Cases have been filed against all the ten suspects multiple counts of rioting, assault, and attempted murder,” said Chaudhary.

Just last week, the killing of two Dalits by upper caste men in Samadhiyala village in Surendranagar district, brought the role of the Gujarat police under question. The Dalit family had reportedly informed the local police, as well as the district collector, that they were being threatened by the upper caste Darbar family and had sought protection.

The Darbars were allegedly trying to take over their plot of land. Incidentally, this isn’t the first incident in Gujarat where a Dalit family or person has died in an attack by an upper caste community while waiting for police protection.

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