Dozens of Muslims have returned to the village they were forced to flee after communal violence on May 25, but the situation in Atali is far from peaceful. Tension prevailed after a section of the dominant Jat community in the village approached a Faridabad court on Friday, seeking a stay on the construction of the mosque that is at the centre of this festering dispute.
The riot, which saw 2,000 heavily armed men selectively burn and vandalise Muslim homes, was apparently triggered by a long contest over the ownership of a piece of land. While the Jat community maintains that the disputed land in question belonged to the gram panchayat, Muslims say it was Waqf land.
After the violence, almost 150 Muslims fled the village and took shelter at the Ballabhgarh (city) police station.
They returned only on Wednesday after being assured that their twin demands — the arrest of those accused of rioting and permission to resume the construction of the mosque — would be met.
Muslims villagers said on Friday that though there was heavy police presence at Atali, the fear of another attack had not yet been banished from their minds.
“We are busy rebuilding our homes and lives. Ramzan is only a few weeks away and we want to begin constructing the mosque’s walls, so that there is a place for us to pray. But people are still tense in the village. Now with this new plea in the court, we don’t know what will come of it,” said Mohammad Ehsan, a resident of the village who works in Okhla.
A team consisting of PUCL, Khudai Khidmatgar and Socialist Party led by Justice Rajinder Sachar (Retd) visited the village on Friday and found the situation to be far from resolved.
Though the team noted that the elders of the Jat community had approached the Muslims and assured them of their cooperation in building the mosque, “there are some mischievous elements who seem to be dissatisfied and have again gone to the court of the CJM, Ballabhgarh claiming that the land belongs to the Panchayat. They also got a notice issued to the Mosque committee as well as the Panchayat,” they said in a statement.
Police, however, maintained that the situation in the village was peaceful.
“Things are peaceful at Atali village. Some people have gone to court, but we are taking all possible measures to ensure that there is no further flare up,” said Subhash Yadav, commissioner of police for Faridabad.