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Aurangabad communal clashes: Would Fadnavis deviate from the course already charted by his mentors in Nagpur?

By Adv Masood Peshimam
Riots in our country are routine. The allegedly partisan role of the police is routine. Delegates of different hue and colour feverishly rushing to the concerned authorities is routine. Authorities assuring that the guilty would not be spared is routine. Concerned authorities promising to set up inquiry committee to probe the multiple reasons contributing to the growth of communal violence is routine. No consequent follow up is also routine. On top of it the guilty remaining immune from punishment many a time, particularly the law enforcers, too, is routine.
Following the recent outbreak of communal violence in Aurangabad in Maharashtra, there have been allegations of police supporting the violent crowd to target Muslims, with the administration failing to take preventive measure to halt the drift in the law and order situation. There are allegations of indiscriminate arrest of innocent Muslims.
Against this murky scenario Muslim MLAs had an audience with Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis at his Varsha Bungalow in Mumbai. The Muslim MLAs termed the occurrence of communal violence as part of larger conspiracy. They presented video clips and other material showing the alleged culpability of the police in supporting the rioters. They explained to Fadnavis the failure of the law enforcing machinery to take corrective measures to nib the growing trouble in the bud well in time.
It is good to note that the Maharashtra CM gave an instant ear to the MLAs. He assured that a committee would be formed to probe the pros and cons of the communal trouble in Aurangabad headed by Additional DIG Law & Order Bipin Bihari. The CM vociferously stated that the guilty would not be spared.
On the occasion, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (MIM) MLA said that the evidence presented shows that the police appears to have sided with the rioters in targeting Muslims. MLA Imtiaz Jalil said that he saluted 98% police for its good performance and blamed only 2% police which has tarnished the image of the entire police force.
It is not clear how the 2% police prevailed upon 98% police force to allegedly damage the prospect of peace. Jalil owes an explanation for this. The MIM MLA needs to explain what has 98% police force has done to prevent the spread of communal narrative, thus exacerbating the situation.
Another Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Asim Azmi, sharing the concern of innocent Muslims, demanded their immediate release. He said that Lachchu Phelwan had threatened Muslims to forcibly close shops, and despite compliance, no action was initiated against the accused. Others who met the CM were Waris Pathan, Amin Patel and Asif Shaikh.
Fadnavis assured the delegates to undo the injustice with the promise that those mishandling the situation would not escape the punishment. So far so good, but the question is, would Fadnavis deviate from the course already charted by his mentors in Nagpur? Would his pronouncements match with action, which amounts to curbing the hawkish communal forces in the state? Would he act against divisive agenda sparking Aurangabad?
Time alone would show the credibility or otherwise of the promises made by the CM. If history is any guide, no seriousness is shown to restrain aggressive communal forces. It’s the absence of the genuine action on the part of the authorities which has culminated in to the scenario which has witnessed the rise in the occurrence of communal violence at a regular interval.
The MLAs visiting Fadnavis is welcome, but what prevented them including the non-Muslim MLAs and other luminaries and intellectuals? The induction of non-Muslims in the delegation would have helped in securing the secular tone and tenor. What has prevented the Muslim MLAs like Amin Patel and Aslam Shaikh of Congress to rope in the eminent Congress MP Milind Deora and others, as these MLAs leave no stone unturned to promote the electoral fortunes of the Congress?
In their protest they should have contacted Mumbra MLA Jitendra Ahward in the team to test the waters. Jitendra Ahward has the huge impact in Mumbra and his regular victory explains that people’s enthusiasm has not turned into disillusionment.
The induction of non-Muslim luminaries would have given more leverage, and more seriousness would have factored in the presentation of grievances. A delegation with different shades would have made government more accountable. Otherwise, the outcome of such meeting is the display of photo with the CM in the Urdu media, and the situation remains grim.
Meanwhile, at the press conference held in Aurangabad, Irfan Engineer, NIhal Dhabade, Siddihi Pendke, Adv Abhay Taksal, Budddah Priya Kabir and Ashfaque Salami blamed extortion and role of Shiv Sena with an eye on future election, and an effort to inculcate the feeling among Hindus that Shiv Sena is only the guardian of their interest, and Shiv Sena can save Hindus from Muslim onslaught. Attached with the Centre for Study of Society & Secularism, they accused Shiv Sena of inciting the violence in Aurangabad. They visited Aurangabad on a Fact Finding Team mission.
There was also Bhima Koregaon Fact Finding Team, which equally blamed the police siding with one community. The Bhima Koregaon Fact Finding Committee desired the arrest of MP Chandrakant Khare for his alleged role in the Aurangabad communal violence.
Earlier, some other delegates met top Police Officials with CCTV footage showing the police supporting the alleged miscreants. Some in the police doubted the authenticity of the CCTV footage. The evidence relating to electronic record is referred in section 65-A of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 which says that the contents of electronic records may be proved in accordance with the provisions of section 65B. CCTV footage has helped in cracking many criminal cases, and it has facilitated in achieving breakthrough in the process of investigation.

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