Fearing for their lives, many Muslims fled their homes in Atali in Ballabhgarh on Thursday morning, the day after their village was hit by a second bout of communal violence. Though some of them returned home in the evening, the fact that the violence had taken place in spite of heavy police presence seemed to have rattled the community.
In the wake of the communal violence that had engulfed the village in May, the police had promised to guarantee the safety of the Muslim community and pledged to arrest those responsible for the riots. But no arrests have been made so far.
Many Muslims admitted that leaving the village permanently might be the only way to ensure the safety of their families.
“Initially, we thought that our families would be safe if the police are here. But after what happened earlier, we can no longer believe that. Many families have already left. Today morning, we decided to leave the village,” said Mohammad Ehsaan.
“People have left the village, particularly those with young children and old relatives. But we have deployed police personnel at the village and we will take all possible steps to ensure no further violence takes place,” said Faridabad Police Commissioner Subhash Yadav.
“The police and the RAF (Rapid Action Force) were present when the violence took place in the morning. There were two episodes of violence after that and by that time, the police had asked for reinforcements. But that didn’t stop the violence. The police can’t stay at the village permanently and there is no sign of the violence ending,” said Isak Lambardar, a community elder.
At the root of the violence is a dispute over the ownership of the land on which the mosque is built. While the Muslim community claims that the land belongs to the Haryana Waqf Board, the Hindu community in the village says it belongs to the Gram Panchayat. The matter was scheduled to be heard at the Faridabad District Court on Thursday morning.
“When the community elders said that they would have to go to attend the hearing in court, many families said that they didn’t want to remain behind,” said Mumtaz Ali, a resident.
“The village has been our home for decades. But we can’t live in fear. Nobody wants to come to our homes and businesses are suffering.
There are many who feel that it might be wiser to fight our battle, legally and while residing outside our village,” added Lambardar.