Divided, Meerut village spends tense days

Amir-ud-din, the principal of the madrasa, denies the woman’s allegation that she was forced to convert.

Written by Irena Akbar | Sarawa ( Meerut ) | Published: August 6, 2014 4:50:49 am
A policeman at Sultania madrasa, Sarawa village, Meerut. ( Source: Express photo by Ravi Kanojia ) A policeman at Sultania madrasa, Sarawa village, Meerut. ( Source: Express photo by Ravi Kanojia )

There is an uneasy calm in Sarawa — peaceful on the surface but tension simmering beneath. There are policemen everywhere in this village of predominantly Dalits and Muslims, and minority but influential Tyagis.

Ever since news broke of a 20-year-old woman from the Tyagi community being gangraped in a madrasa and forced to convert to Islam, the Sultania madrasa, where she taught from August 2013 to May 2014, has become a police camp of sorts to prevent any communal flare-up.

Amir-ud-din, the principal of the madrasa, denies the woman’s allegation that she was forced to convert. “She didn’t quit, we fired her because she was absent for eight days in April and for half of May,” he says, showing the attendance register.

The madrasa, which was built in 1957, also functions as a primary co-ed school and has 200 students, including 30 boarding students. “They are on a long Eid holiday, so we’ve given their rooms to the police camping here,” says Amir-ud-din.

The victim, along with two other women (a Dalit and the other from the Maali caste), taught Hindi and English at the madrasa for a salary of Rs 1,500.

Amir-ud-din says the prime accused, Sanaullah, was “never associated” with Sultania madrasa. He was “associated” with another madrasa, Jamia Sufa, which was locked. “Sanaullah used to collect funds to build this madrasa. But after some dispute between him and the madrasa committee over fund collection, he quit,” says a villager.

At a chaupal, village elders say “all is calm” here. “Of course, we are hurt by what has happened but we won’t allow goons to exploit the situation. The police are here and they will keep all in control,” says Hariom Tyagi.

Outside the woman’s home, there are several mediapersons and police personnel. Inside, more than two dozen people of the Tyagi community are sitting to “express sympathy for one of our girls”. And hatred for “them”. “They always do such things when they are in a majority. When they are in a minority, they are ‘khaan saab’. But when we are in a minority, we have to say to them, ‘haan saab’,” says Kuldeep Tyagi, a BJP worker.

“We want a CBI inquiry into the functioning of the madrasas. They indulge in terrorism and lure Hindu girls, covert them, and send them to UAE to marry sheikhs,” alleges Mahesh Tyagi, another BJP worker. “This incident is a spark.”

The woman comes in with several policemen. She has her hands placed constantly on her lower abdomen.

“I have had an operation, and have seven stiches. But I don’t know what part of my body has been operated or removed,” she says.

A member of Tyagi community later told The Indian Express her uterus had been removed.

Speaking to The Indian Express, the woman says, “I used to mingle with the

Muslims earlier. I had a Muslim friend in Class XII. She used to invite me for Eid. Then she suggested that I teach at the madrasa to support my family. When I started teaching there, I starting believing I am Muslim. But that was out of fear, they would tell me to believe in their faith. I left the madrasa because I got busy with my final-year BA studies.”

“When Ramzan started, again they started trapping me sweetly. I was taken to a madrasa in Hapur on July 23 where I was gangraped and got pregnant. They did an ultrasound and got me operated. I was taken to another madrasa in Muzaffarnagar on July 30 where an old woman would beat me up and feed me cow meat. There were other girls there too, one had come all the way from Andhra Pradesh. They made someone else sign on an affidavit that claimed I had become Muslim and changed my name to Jannat. They got a cleric from Mumbai who gave the girls a book called Aapki Amanat Aapki Seva, written by one Kalam Siddiqui. It was about Hindu girls converting to Islam,” she says.

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