Violence erupted at Atali in Ballabhgarh once again on Wednesday after Hindus and Muslims in the village pelted stones on three separate occasions. At least four people were injured in the violence, police said.
Though police claimed that it was too early to identify the trigger for the violence, residents said the first clash took place in the morning when namaz was being read at the mosque. “We were praying at the mosque when stones were thrown. At the same time, the Hindus in the adjacent temple were participating in a kirtan using loudspeakers and this sparked the violence,” Nizam Ali alleged.
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The police said that at the time of the initial stone-pelting in the morning, six or seven Muslims were present at the mosque and they took refuge at the residence of a community elder. The violence that ensued lasted about an hour, with individuals from both communities climbing atop buildings and throwing bricks, stones and bottles, the police added. The mosque, which had been burnt during earlier riots, was once again desecrated on Wednesday, police said.
While the Muslim community maintained that they were attacked first when they were inside the mosque, the Hindu community in the village denied the charge. “It’s completely untrue. They attacked the women of the village, who were at the temple, with stones and two of them were injured,” Satish Chaudhury said.
The mosque had served as the flashpoint for communal riots in the village on May 25, as 2,000 heavily armed men allegedly set the mosque on fire as well as several Muslim homes and shops in an hour-long rampage. Fifteen people were injured and almost 150 Muslim villagers camped at the Ballabhgarh police station until June 3.
While the administration and the police have consistently maintained that the village has been peaceful following the riots, residents claim otherwise. “Ever since we have returned, things have been tense. We were told that we could pray peacefully. But the reality is very different. We have given written complaints to the police about the every day social boycott we are facing, but no action has been taken,” Ali said.
While seeming sporadic, residents said the violence had followed a strict pattern through the day, coinciding with the timing of prayers at the mosque. “After the initial violence in the morning, two separate incidents of stone-pelting took place when we went to the mosque to pray in the afternoon and again in the evening. We also found that they had desecrated the mosque when we went to pray in the afternoon,” Ehsan Mohammad alleged, while adding that the community decided to break their fast for Ramzan indoors and not venture out.
Subhash Yadav, Commissioner of Police, Faridabad, said, “We have deployed additional forces at the village and all roofs have been cleared. We have deployed personnel on roofs also.”
May 25: First day of rioting: At least 17 Muslims’ homes allegedly torched. Villagers flee to Ballabhgarh (City) police station.
May 27: A 60-year-old man is attacked with axes, village’s entire Muslim population flees to police station.
May 31: A Faridabad court said the property — where the construction of a mosque became the flashpoint for rioting in the village — had “always been in possession of the Muslim community”.
June 3: After numerous failed talks, Muslims finally return to the village after being promised protection during Ramzan.
June 5: Tension prevails in village after a section of the Jat community approaches a Faridabad court, seeking a stay on the construction of the mosque.
June 8: Muslims allege social boycott. CM Manohar Lal Khattar visits Faridabad, gives Atali a miss
June 19: First day of Ramzan at riot-hit Atali marred by an altercation between Hindus and Muslims over placement of fans outside the mosque.