Almost a 100 complaints have been submitted to the police in the Ballabhgarh riot case till Saturday. The Indian Express examined some of these these complaints, which all allege the selective targeting of Muslim households by heavily armed Jat villagers.
The complaints also reveal some startling details from two bouts of violence — ranging from at least one named woman participating in the attacks, men “in black masks”, loot of “jewellery kept for weddings” and the deliberate “severing of gas lines”.
At least 17 homes were set afire on the evening of May 25, leaving a number of people injured. An axe attack on the lone Muslim, an infirm 60-year-old, who stayed back to care for the community’s cattle left him fighting for his life. Those who hurriedly fled the village fearing further violence, camped at the Ballabhgarh (City) police station. They returned only this Wednesday, to charred houses and broken and missing household possessions.
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The Faridabad police had initially registered one common FIR to begin investigation into the rioting. But after receiving flak from the state minorities commission, they began to registering individual complaints.
A large proportion of the complaints deal with the initial violence on May 25. They all speak of neighbours, suddenly turned foes, turning up heavily armed at around 6 pm. The torching of homes and vehicles went hand in hand with the loot of all that was valuable and relatively undamaged. For instance, Shabveen alleges that “at 6pm…homes of all Muslims were set on fire and destroyed”, while Kasim alleges “everything of value was looted or burnt”.
Other complaints deal with the second burst of violence around 12 noon on May 27 after some Muslims had returned to the village under police protection. In this round, a godown where the Muslim community kept its annual supply of cattle feed was torched.
Sundar Khan claims in his complaint: “I was on the roof of my house when I saw two people running away from the godown where the cattle feed was kept.” He couldn’t identify the two, but said he had left behind a buffalo, cash amounting to Rs 15,500 and jewellery kept aside for his daughter’s wedding. All of it was looted, he alleges.
The loot of jewellery and cash, kept aside for the forthcoming wedding season, is mentioned in more than one complaint. The complaint filed by 32-year-old Ajane Sherdin also speaks of the loot of jewellery and cash. But he couldn’t identify some of the accused. “Two of them were known, but five or six others were wearing black masks,” he told police.
Sherdin claims the Hindu attackers cut the gas connection in the houses after torching them. Most of the homes in Atali village — referred to by the district administration as a “model village” — have piped gas.
Many claimed that these lines had been deliberately severed. Others, like Abdul Rahman, also allege that the attackers severed the gas line. The attackers, who were “armed with bottles of petrol, swords, axes”, also included a woman, he alleges. The woman has been named in his complaint.