August 2, 2017 3:07:50 am
Three days after violence first broke out in Tissa over alleged rape of a schoolgirl by a teacher, normalcy is slowly returning to this remote sub-division in Chamba. The accused teacher, Tek Chand, was earlier arrested, and police claim that that he has confessed to sexually exploiting the schoolgirl, who belonged to the Muslim community.
But the rape allegation triggered a communal flare-up in the area, with school teachers from one community being beaten up on July 29 by a mob, which included women led by a Congress leader and Haj committee chairman Dildar Ali Bhat.
On Tuesday, Chamba Deputy Commissioner Sudesh Mokhta and local SP Varinder Tomar held a meeting with representatives of the two communities and sought their support in maintaining peace in the area. They also promised action against those responsible for triggering clashes between members the two communities.
“There was a realisation among members of both communities that whatever happened could create a further communal divide. Thus, this needs to be curbed before it flares up further,” Mokhta said over phone from Tissa, where he has been camping after Monday’s violence in which several policemen, including additional SP Virender Thakur, were also injured.
An angry mob had targeted policemen and set shops on fire on Monday. The anger reportedly stemmed from the incident at Government Senior Secondary School, Khushnagar, where some teachers were called by by SDM Hitesh Azad supposedly at the behest of Dildar Ali Bhat and then attacked in the presence of local administration. A few teachers were singled out for the attack, protesters have alleged.
While police have confirmed the incident, they have denied the presence of Tissa SDM at the incident site. Kesari Singh, a teacher present there and accused by women of having a role in the victim’s exploitation, alleged he was called over phone by the SDM and found the mob already there.
Later, Bhat, along with four others, was arrested by police on a complaint lodged by the teachers’ union. The union went on a protest threatening revenge against those who singled out teachers and beat them up, alleging that the incident had given the issue a communal colour.
The last few days have seen clear communal fault lines emerge in Tissa and Khushinagar, with VHP and political activists – both from Congress and BJP, attacking police for shielding the those who attacked the teachers.
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