What really happened in violence-hit Telinipara, West Bengal (Part-II)

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-An insight into Indian Islamophobia

DM Monitoring

She had the same answer to our query about when the violence took place. We then walked towards the Gondalpara mill from Dinemardanga junction, and found a series of Muslim-occupied homes with broken doors, melted television cables and burnt, exposed electric wires. Some of the houses’ roofs and walls had fallen as gas cylinders had burst inside these small houses. While inspecting the damage, we found black fumes were still emerging from two of the houses in the violence-hit lane. The road was completely covered with rubble – big stones, sticks, iron rods and uncountable broken bottles. Most of the bottles smelled of kerosene.
We were astonished to find Muslim-owned photocopying, grocery and meat shops were scorched, while two Hindu-owned grocery and tailor shops stood intact next to them. We found several battery-operated rickshaws, motorbikes, cycles and a small tempo, all completely burned, on this street.
One house on the street, identifiable as belonging to a Hindu family with its ‘Om’ sign on the front door, was peculiarly damaged on only one side, while the other side appeared untouched. A local, who didn’t want to be named, said, “A cylinder burst in the Muslim house next to this (Hindu) house, and the impact damaged the wall of the latter house.”
A police officer present at the site was inspecting the damage. When asked if the violence was targeted at one community, he pointed towards a shop and said, “See, there is no damage to that shop. Now, read the name written on it.” The officer, speaking to The Wireon the condition of anonymity, said, “The attack was planned and some locals were involved. Otherwise it’s not possible for outsiders to pinpoint each house and target it. Also, the amount of petrol bombs used here shows that the attackers came well prepared.” He added that no further violence took place after May 12, and that the situation was now completely under control.
Mohammed Mustaque, 53, watched his house and shop being looted and torched by a mob of masked men on the afternoon of May 12. Mustaque is a cable operator in the area and runs a photocopying shop. “Those people were armed with iron rods, stones and petrol bombs and were chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’. They wanted to destroy us. They burned down my new xerox machine. I pleaded to them with folded hands, but they didn’t listen. Now, we have nothing, other than what we are wearing,” a teary-eyed Mustaque told us in a choked voice.
We approached Mustaque’s 83-year-old father, who was sitting in one corner of the street. He broke down while holding our hands. He was unable to speak.
Shabana Khatun, Mustaque’s wife, told The Wire, “Apart from the photocopy shop which was charred, we have two more shops, both rented out to Hindus. Nothing happened to those shops. What more evidence do we need to prove we (Muslims) have been targeted?”
Mohammed Mustaque’s xerox shop burned by attackers, while the other two were not touched, Telinipara. Photo: Himadri Ghosh.
To be Continued