Who is behind the scene in Kapilvastu Hindu-Muslim riots?

Gajendra Basnet

November 1, 2019

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Who is behind the scene in Kapilvastu Hindu-Muslim riots?
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KATHMANDU: The locals were heading to perform the last rituals of Laxmi idols worshipped at home when a few Muslim youths tried to obstruct their rally near the mosque at Krishnanagar on Wednesday evening.

The situation took a nasty turn when the youths from both sides came to blows leading to the injury on both the rioting sides and the police.

According to Deep Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Kapilvastu, the prolonged clash led to a curfew in the area. When Suraj Kumar Pandey, an Indian national tried to defy the curfew, he died in police firing.

‘The police administration is on high alert for the possibility of such riots as there had been few such skirmishes in the past,’ says DSP Rana. He reiterated the administration’s commitment to not let the clash deteriorate further.

Gajendra Shrestha, the chief district officer of Kapilvastu district, claimed that the administration would surely ease the situation and ensure the right to freedom of religion in its true sense.

Indian extremist behind the riot

When the clash of Wednesday night led to the declaration of curfew order, members of All Nepal Muslim Front dashed to Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa requesting him to heed the involvement of Indian extremists in the incident. They claimed a group of Indian extremists had been to the site with the intent of fueling the riots.

Taj Mohammad Miya, one of the members of All Nepal Muslim Organization claimed that a group of Indians had been to the Krishnanagar area with an intention to provoke riots. He blamed the police for not arresting such extremists in time which, he believed, led to the unfortunate situation of riots in the area. He further added that many places including the houses of the Muslim people and their mosque had been targeted. Many Muslims in the area believe such incidents could easily be curbed provided some measures were taken against the extremists.

The riots are recurring

Actually, the latest incident is one of the representative cases of the type. Such riots are on the rise since 1990.

When the then government initiated an anti- Maoist campaign during the Maoist conflict, more than 6 hundred houses were burnt and more than 50 people were killed in Kapilvastu alone.

The police investigation has shown that a group fueling such riots has been active in Kapilvastu since 1990.

On September 16, 2007, two unidentified persons coming on a motorbike shot dead Mohit Khan, then acting district chair of Democratic Madhesi Front. The incident which had occurred after Maoist joined the peace process was labeled as an incident of Hindu-Muslim riot.

Immediately after the incident the riot spread to many cities like Taulihawa, Butwal, Bhairahawa and resulted in the brutal killing of 14 people, the disappearance of dozens and displacement of more than 5 thousand people. More than 7 hundred shops and houses were looted whereas more than 300 hundred vehicles were torched in the incident.

According to the statistics provided by the District Administration Office, Kapilvastu, more than 3 thousand residential households were set a blaze in the week-long riots then.

The police investigation has shown that a group fueling such riots has been active in Kapilvastu since 1990.

A probe commission was formed under the chairpersonship of Lokendra Mallik, former justice of the Supreme Court, which had estimated the damage worth more than 40 million rupees (excluding the loss and damages on vehicles). As per the record of District Administration Office, Kapilvastu, the loss, and damage were put at over 190 million rupees, however, the victims are still awaiting compensation for more than 12 years now.

After this incident, minor skirmishes have been the ‘part of religious ceremonies’ quite frequently. The local administration had to declare curfew for five consecutive days when a group of Hindu devotees consigning Durga idol after the Dashain festival last year, was obstructed by the Muslim youths. The extremist’s attempt to fuel the riots had come to an end together with the lifting of curfew orders then.

A group fuelling the riots active since long

An investigation of the Nepal Police has revealed that a group of extremists has been actively working to fuel riots in the area since 1990.

According to the police officials, such a team has been striving hard to arrange for and fuel riots between the Hindus and Muslims for long. To materialize their scheme, the same group creates the situation of unrest and clashes once the religious parades reach near the mosque area.

Had the cause of riots been the religious misunderstanding, such an incident would have been a common scene everywhere. It is notable that all the riots of the past have their origin in Krishnanagar, Kapilvastu.

Keshav Adhikari, former DIG of Nepal police, believes that all such activities are orchestrated and executed to cause unrest and riots. He says, ‘ Looking back to the incidents, one can easily decipher that such riots are not the result of any misunderstanding between various religious groups living in harmony for ages rather they are the activities designed to create misunderstanding and cause unrest in the society.’ He further adds that the authority has to keep close tabs on such activities.

Although some people unaware of the ground reality of religious tolerance have often concluded the riots as the result of a misunderstanding between the locals, that’s far from the reality as the Hindus of Chaipurawa village (where the Muslim population is nearly 95 percent) have been observing their festivals without any obstructions from the Muslim community.

In Krishnanagar the Muslim population is only one third, yet such riots are becoming more common there. There are several places in Nepal where the Hindus and Muslims have been living in ideal brotherhood. Had the cause of riots been the religious misunderstanding, such an incident would have been a common scene everywhere. It is notable that all the riots of the past have their origin in Krishnanagar, Kapilvastu.

It is to be heeded that unrest and disruption of law and order of Krishnanagar have been the target of some conspirators, hence instant and alert move can go with the saying, ‘A stitch in time saves nine.’

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