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Exclusive: Dalits in Bihar’s Purnia rendered homeless after Islamist mob attack their colony and set it on fire: All we know so far

Author: Jhankar Mohta
Publication: OpIndia.com
Date: May 22, 2021
URL:   https://www.opindia.com/2021/05/muslim-mob-attacks-dalit-colony-in-bihars-purnia-and-sets-it-on-fire/     

In the attack by the Muslim mob on the Mahadalit community, one man died, several injured, and a child is missing

A Mahadalit colony in Majhuwa village under Baisi police station of Purnia district in Bihar was engulfed with raging conflagration on the night of May 19 (Wednesday) as Islamists in the region launched a brutal attack against the Dalit settlement. At least 13 Mahadalit houses were reduced to ashes, after a Muslim mob of 150 to 200 from three to four nearby villages, armed with weapons, surrounded the colony and set it on fire.

The mob brutally attacked the Dalits who tried to stop them from carrying out the destruction. Showing the least empathy towards the aged, children or the women, the Islamist mob dragged them out of their houses and brutally assaulted them with sharp weapons.

In the attack, an elderly retired watchman namely Mewa Lal Rai (70), was lynched to death. A pregnant lady named Laxmi Devi was mercilessly assaulted by the rampaging mob. She sustained critical injuries on her head but managed to flee the spot.

A 3-year-old boy Diwana Rai, son of one Pratap Rai, has disappeared and there is still no news of the child. Several other villagers, including women, children who sustained grave injuries, were later rushed to Baisi primary health centre (PHC).

Recounting the dreadful incident Mewa Lal Rai’s sons Sukhdev and Fakira said, “Hundreds of people from three to four nearby villages attacked us at around 11 am on Wednesday when we were sleeping. Later, they set our houses on fire.”

The reason behind the said incident of ransacking, assault and arson by the Muslim mob is said to be the grudges these Muslims hold towards the Dalits residing in the area, which is primarily a Muslim dominated one. For months now, the Muslims have been agitating and asking the Dalits to vacate the land claiming it belongs to them. However, according to the Dalits, the land on which their houses are made is government land, belonging to the PWD Department. They have been opposing the high-handedness of the Muslims and refusing to vacate their houses.

After the news of the incident spread, Vishwa Hindu Parishad members reached the spot to take stock of the situation. Disquieted by the atrocities meted out at the Dalits by the frenzied Islamists, the Hindu outfit issued a strong statement condemning the incident and demanding immediate action against the perpetrators.
In its statement, the Hindu outfit alleged inaction by the local administration and police. Drawing attention to how such incidents of atrocities towards Dalits in the hands of Muslims are becoming more and more common, VHP’s Union General Secretary Milind Parande wrote that Muslims are carrying out such atrocities with the tactile support of local administration.
 
To delve further into the case, OpIndia got in touch with Vivek Lath, VHP’s Prachar Pramukh of Purnia district. Apprising us of the extent of atrocities that were inflicted on these poor Dalit families on the night of May 19th, Vivek said that the frenzied Muslim mob surrounded the colony from all sides and set the houses belonging to Dalits on fire. Besides, a Hindu temple, where these Dalits use to pray, was also set ablaze.

“They did not spare anyone. They were brutally assaulting whichever Dalit was coming their way. Be it, small children or the women of the house, none were spared”, said Vivek, adding that the police reached the spot 2.5 hours after the incident.

Two fire engines reached the spot three hours after the purported to douse the fire, by when much damage had been done.

The VHP leader told us that the incident was a result of a scuffle over the ongoing land dispute, that broke out that afternoon, between deceased Mewa Lal Rai and some Muslims in the area. Local police had intervened and resolved the fight. Two guards were also deputed in the area to maintain harmony. In the afternoon, the Muslims returned calmly. However, as soon as dusk descended, members of the Muslim community launched the brutal attack against the Dalits.

During the attack, the two on-duty guards were also assaulted and their motorbikes were also set ablaze. While one was severely injured in the incident, the other managed to escape.

Vivek further informed that it had been more than three days since the Dalits have been rendered homeless. Since the incident, 3 FIRs have been lodged in the Baisi police station against 7 identified and over 100 unidentified Islamists, but the local police, under alleged pressure from the administration, has made only two arrests thus far.

The arrested accused were identified as Md Sakir and Md Ibrahim.
 
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