With 15 men in jail on sedition charges for allegedly raising pro-Pakistan slogans after India’s loss in the Champions Trophy final, and the police looking for four more, fear has engulfed this small village with a large Muslim population.
Demanding a probe by an agency other than the police, relatives of the arrested men on Wednesday wrote to the President, the national and state human rights commissions and national and state minority commissions, among other agencies, saying that the village never witnessed any communal incident in the past.
Many men have fled the village, fearing that the police will knock on their doors at night. “There may have been three or four persons who burst crackers. We don’t know who they are, but the entire community is being branded anti-social and taunted as terrorists,’’ Gulzar Kasam, whose 23-year-old son Aitabar is among those arrested, told The Indian Express on Wednesday.
When the family members visited the Burhanpur court premises Tuesday, they had a tough time as some right-wing activists, advocates and commoners called them names. “They raised slogans like ‘Hindustan Zindabad’. We also said ‘Hindustan Zindabad’ because we love the country,’’ the 62-year-old said, claiming that before Sunday, the police rarely came to the village and that someone had hatched a conspiracy to whip up communal tension.
A majority of those arrested are daily wagers, while some own one or two acres of land. “They have taken innocent youths into custody. Some were held just because they were scared of the police and were trying to run away from them,’’ claimed Musharraf Tadvi, who said his minor son had been arrested.
Most of those arrested are Tadvi Pathans, tribals who converted to Islam.