Communal violence erupted on Thursday, September 10, during a Mahavir Akhara procession in Bihar’s Siwan district, prompting the arrest of a 70-year-old man and an eight-year-old Muslim minor boy along with many others.
The march, which passed near a mosque, was made up of saffron-clad males who were reportedly armed with clubs and yelled communal sentiments. This allegedly resulted in stone pelting in Barharia’s Purani Bazar neighbourhood.
According to a report by Maktoob media, Mohammad Yasin, 70, and his eight-year-old grandson Rizwan Qureshi were both taken into custody by the police, despite the family’s insistence that they are both innocent. Yasin recently underwent two surgeries and also suffered from other health issues, the report said.
According to their family, they were booked for incitement of violence and kept in custody.
Rizwan’s brother Azhar told Maktoob Media, “My younger brother was kept in a private ward and my family was initially not allowed to meet him. When my mother saw him, he was handcuffed and scared. He was so terrified that he was unable to recognise his own mother. The child was just crying to go back home.”
The report further said that they were produced in court allegedly with a rope tied around their waist. Rizwan’s family has presented the child’s birth certificate but the police officials have been allegedly demanding money for his release.
According to several media reports, the Siwan Police have filed a First Information Report (FIR) against 35 persons in connection with the event, including 25 Muslims and 10 Hindus, and have detained 20 people.
The Wireobtained the FIR under Indian Penal Code sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with a deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 188 (disobedience to order), 296 (disturbing religious assembly), 337 (causing hurt), 338 (causing grievous hurt), 435 (mischief with intent to damage), 427 (mischief with substance), 505 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 307 ( (party to criminal conspiracy).
Speaking to The Wire, a resident said, “On Thursday (September 8) evening, during the Asr prayers, a Mahavir Akhara rally passed by the mosque. The people were armed with sticks and chanting communal slurs. Some shops around the area were vandalised with lathis and the same happened with the mosque. After this, stone pelting ensued from both sides.”
He added, “Essentially this is an administrative failure, the area has always been sensitive. The Mahavir Akhara took out a rally four days ago too, however, police were present at that time, so nothing like this happened. Moreover, some Muslims of the region have also asked the police to beef up security, since the area is ‘communally sensitive’. However, only two chowkidars and a junior police officer were assigned.”
Prem Chand, the magistrate, who is also a complainant in the FIR, told The Wire, “I was made the Dand Adhikari (magistrate) of the region for a day so I filed the complaint. Stone pelting took place in front of the mosque, and when the Akhara reached the region [Purani Bazar area] from the mosque. After this, the administration dealt with the situation as a clash ensued. A shop was also damaged during stone pelting.”
AIMIM chief Owaisi reacts to the minor’s arrest:
AIMIM chief and Hyderabad Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi strongly criticised Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and asked whether the arrested boy would have been treated in the same manner like an ‘animal’ if he belonged to the chief minister’s caste.
“Had the boy been from the same caste of @CMBiharNK or Health Ministers caste he wouldn’t have been treated like a animal. Remember the name is RIZWAN, an 8 years Old,” he tweeted on Saturday night.
(Message of humanity)