Bareilly tense in aftermath of 'jail bharo' call; at least 2 injured
The protest was against chief minister Yogi Adityanath's call for Muslims to give up the Gyanvapi and Shahi Idgah mosques
Thousands of supporters of Barelvi cleric Tauqeer Raza Khan gathered near the Islamia Ground of Biharipur this evening (9 February), forcing the local administration into action to ensure law and order, officials claimed.
The crowd apparently gathered in response to the Ittehad-e-Millat Council chief 'jail bharo' call, in protest "against the anti-Muslim policies of the government". Raza Khan was allegedly referring to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's statement in the Uttar Pradesh state Assembly that Muslims should willingly give up their claim on Gyanvapi Masjid in Varanasi and the Shahi Idgah mosque in Mathura.
"The government is making Muslims an enemy. We are against the anti-Muslim policies of the government," Tauqeer Raza Khan told reporters outside his residence after the Friday prayers today, 9 February.
He tried to move out of his house into the streets already filled by his supporters, but was stopped by the local administration.
Once the police detained him, thousands of followers of the Ittehad-e-Millat Council took to the streets and stone pelting was reported in the Shahmat Ganj area. One person was injured in the incident, the police said.
The district magistrate said the police are investigating the matter and an FIR will be lodged.
The maulana's 'jail bharo andolan' called on his supporters to offer themselves for arrest to the police voluntarily after the Friday namaz.
Around 1,000 police personnel were brought on the ground to maintain law and order, including six additional superintendents of police (ASPs) and 12 circle officers.
This large police presence did not, on the face of it, quell the tension in the area.
Inspector general (IG) of police (Bareilly range) Rakesh Kumar Singh told reporters, "Maulana Tauqeer Raza had announced his intention to get arrested in protest against the policies of the government. He was stopped and peacefully asked to return to his home. The condition is peaceful and under control. Sufficient police force has been deployed in the area."
According to police sources, the maulana had informed the district administration and sought permission for his "jail bharo" call on Thursday, 8 December, but was denied, with the authorities citing apprehension around the law and order situation.
The district administration also sealed the Islamia College grounds, where Khan had asked his supporters to gather.
Police personnel were also deployed in that area, in addition to Biharipur, to ensure law and order.
As thousands of supporters filled the streets, it took the police and administration over two hours to persuade people to return to their homes. An NDTV report claimed many people were injured.
Some posts on social media claimed that Muslim supporters were seen running away from stone pelting mobs that apparently disregarded the police presence.
District magistrate (DM) Ravindra Kumar said that the administration would continued to monitor the neighbourhoods for "mischievous elements".
He also mentioned said that some miscreants had been pelting stones in Shyamatganj market. "An FIR will be lodged regarding the matter and the miscreants will be identified," the DM said.
The Hindu reported a Bareilly police statement that 'Three youngsters were beaten by some anti-social elements near Shamat Ganj area under Baradari police station limits, in which two youngsters suffered minor injuries.'
Maulana Tauqeer Raza, a Barelvi cleric, is head of the Ittehad-e-Millat Council (IMC), a political organisation. He is a direct descendant of Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi, the founder of the Barelvi sect of Sunni Islam.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring Uttarakhand, the demolition of a mosque and a madrasa that allegedly encroached on government land in Haldwani resulted in unrest and clashes among locals and police forces yesterday, leaving at least six dead and many injured. The six deaths were of 'rioters' per the officials, while the 60-plus injured included mostly police personnel and a few journalists.
Notably, both states have a BJP-led government.
With PTI and IANS inputs