A three-member team from the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) visited Atali Village in Ballabhgarh on Wednesday to investigate reports of attacks on Muslims in the area allegedly over the construction of a mosque in the village.
Police and local administration officials confirmed to the team reports of arson and violence targeted at the Muslim community.
The team met with resistance from residents when it visited the village to assess the degree of damage. They also got into an ugly spat.
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“The main accused, who it is alleged was directing the violence, was present and got into an altercation with some Muslims accompanying the team. Police at this time apprehended him but “he was released by the time the NCM team reached Ballabhgarh, ‘for fear of creating a situation that may get out of hand’, according to the police,” the team wrote in its report, a copy of which is being sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The team comprising Ajaib Singh, T N Shanoo and Farida A Khan has demanded that individual FIRs be lodged immediately instead of a joint FIR and the fair assessment of the damage be made so that affected people can be adequately compensated. The team has urged the administration to make all efforts to protect the properties of Muslims and make all efforts to provide adequate protection to victims so that they can return to their homes.
Residents told the Minorities commission team that the violence was planned and they had got wind of it in advance and even warned the local police.
However, despite the warning, the local Station House Officer, they told the team, sent away some of his personnel so that when the attackers arrived they had a free run of the place.
“Several large houses had been burnt, horribly vandalised and looted. ACs, fridges, almirahs and furniture of all sorts had been mauled and broken, and several cars and motorcycles and scooters burnt to cinders. Residents described how families with children in the homes were caught in the fire and had to escape through the roof. Several people have mild as well as serious burn injuries and two people are reported to be still in hospital. The residents also reported one person as missing after the incident,” the team wrote in its report.