//Aligarh Riots : Lock on the lock industry in Aligarh

Aligarh Riots : Lock on the lock industry in Aligarh

By A U Asif, IndianMuslims.INFO, June 23, 2006

Aligarh continues to be tense even after over two months. Indefinite curfew is enforced there since April 6 following the eruption of communal riots. It has claimed 12 lives so far.

It all started with a dispute over hanging decorations outside a temple constructed on the land of Masjid Memaran in Dahi Wali Gali of the Old City. Half a dozen persons were killed and dozens injured in the subsequent riots. Triloki, son of BJP MLA Deoki Nandan Kori was also found dead in the riots and then mistaken as a Muslim and buried by the local Police as an unidentified Muslim. Later, after demand his body was exhumed, identified and cremated.

Local Muslims got registered FIR in the Police Station concerned. A few persons, including those associated with the BJP were named in it. The time rolled by but the Police remained inactive despite the continued tension. Meanwhile, curfew relaxed in parts and rotation in seven Police Stations of Aligarh in the first week of May.

Later, two unidentified motorcyclists shot dead two persons—Raju Kumar, a Samosewaala and Raman Gupta, a chemist—in two separate incidents on May 19 and 22. Later, again on May 28 O P Gupta, a local BJP leader, too became a victim to the bullets of the unidentified motorcyclists. Incidentally, all the three killed were accused in the April 6 riot FIR for instigating the communal riots.

Then in the subsequent riots two persons belonging to the minority community was lynched by the agitating mob on the same night of May 28. Since then the curfew that was relaxed but not lifted, was full-fledged enforced again there.

Till date there is neither reduction of tension, nor relaxation in curfew. As a result, the tension is growing and the number of those being detained by the Police is increasing. It is causing harassment to the weaker sections, particularly Muslims. Some are arrested for violating the norms of Curfew by going to the streets in search of some work. They all are labourers and depend upon daily wages.

As is well known, Aligarh is famous for its locks, besides the internationally renowned Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). Over 6,000 manufacturing units of locks are found here. Even after the entry of the Chinese locks into India, they are more or less in demand in different parts of the country.

Incidentally, all these units are located in the Curfew-bound areas of Kotwali, Banna Devi, Gandhi Park, Delhi Gate and Sansi Gate. Therefore, they all are locked since April 6. About 25,000 employees work in these 6,000 units. Almost 30 per cent of the products are exported. The annual turnover of the lock industry in Aligarh is Rs 200 crore.

Says Bua Singh, Dirctor General Police, UP: "We will only lift the curfew after the motorcycle shooters are caught. Our Special Task Force team is on the run and we expect a quick result."

The motorcyclists must be identified and caught so that the culprits might be punished. But so far as the matter of bringing Aligarh to normalcy is concerned, it may not serve the purpose fully. The continuing tension has got its roots in the construction of a temple on the land of a mosque.

The local senior citizens belonging to both the communities would have to come forward. In this context, some Muslim organizations like the All India Milli Council, having credibility and confidence in the society, can play a role in coordinating them.

So far as the local Police is concerned, it could not take up the case properly. That’s why the case is still pending since the incident of April 6. The state government can’t shirk its responsibility just by suspending the Aligarh city SP S K Verma and Additional District Magistrate Satya Bhan and terming the shooting down of the three accused persons in the April 6 riots FIR as the retaliatory killing.

Apart from these facts, it can’t be denied that the Sangh Parivar has again begun spreading its tentacles in raising issues that have potential in widening the gap and creating tension and mistrust in the two communities. The alleged involvement of a few local BJP men confirms this.

It is quite clear that the BJP has its eyes concentrated upon the ensuing assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh next year. Its main aim is how to polarise the Hindu votes. But surprisingly, the Mulayam Singh government doesn’t seem to be serious in countering the Sangh Parivar’s moves.

Article courtsey of Institue of Objective Studies, New Delhi.