Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut city has been in the throes of tension since Sunday (June 30) after Muslims took out a shanti juloos (peace march) against the mob lynching of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand last month.
On Friday, the streets wore a deserted look with heavy police presence. The schools had been ordered shut and internet connectivity stopped. The Muslims’ faces were drawn with apprehensions.
The police have already rounded up at least 50 Muslim men after the Sunday’s protest.
A few thousand people had gathered at the Faiz-e-Aam college grounds on Sunday on the call of Yuva Sewa Samiti president Badar Ali to peacefully protest against the killing of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand by a Hindutva mob.
Ansari was beaten up by a mob on June 18 on suspicion of bike theft in Saraikela-Kharswan district of Jharkhand. When the crowd came to know Ansari was a Muslim, he was forced to chant ‘jai shri Ram’ and ‘jai Hanuman’.
Addressing the gathering on Sunday, Meerut’s Shahar Qazi -- a titular position conferred on a respected community elder -- spoke of peace and communal harmony. The gathering gave a memorandum to the District Magistrate and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP).
While going back to their homes, a few youth raised slogans. The police replied with lathi charge on the crowd.
According to police, the march and the demonstration had been done without the administration’s permission and the act created apprehensions in the city. A few men in the crowd, who had covered their faces with handkerchiefs, also hurled abuses at the policemen.
The police have also arrested Badar Ali and have been raiding across the Muslim neighbourhoods and picking up men in the case.
Meerut SSP Ajay Sahni said that Badar Ali’s history sheet was being opened and he may be booked under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) for allegedly instigating the mobs. Five cases have been lodged against him in different police stations.
Badar Ali’s uncle Iftikhar Ali termed it a “political conspiracy” against his nephew, adding that he was being made a scapegoat in the tug-of-war among various local Muslim leaders.
He said that nobody knows who were the men who raised slogans or abused policemen . These men could have been planted in the crowds by some vested interests, he said.
“The police must find out who these men were and book them,” he said.
Nafees Ahmed, 60, a resident of Khair Nagar in Meerut, said he could not understand why there was so much police force around and so much tension in the city when even no communal clash had taken place.