Chamba school row: Hiding among protesting people, hooligans aim communal violence
Chamba – In Devbhoomi, Himachal Pradesh, it is believed that humanity is still alive among its people. Here society is more likely to see the victims of rapes or crimes against women as humans first. People have always been thankful that at least the politicians in Devbhoomi aren’t evil enough to fuel the communal fire in their own State for political benefits.
However, the current situation in Chamba has forced the society to again contemplate over the entry of such evils in Himachal’s political arena.
The case of alleged rape of a minor girl by a teacher in the Tissa region of Churaah subdivision of Chamba district, Himachal Pradesh, has taken an entirely different turn. The rape, justice for the victim or the arrest of the accused isn’t the issues here. The accused was arrested immediately after a FIR was filed by the victim’s father on July 27 and send on judicial remand.
Despite that, the tension aggravated on Monday as a protesting mob pelted stones on the police force in which the ADM and about 15 policemen including the Additional Superintendent of Police sustained serious injuries. The injured were taken to the Tissa hospital for treatment. As per the administration, the hooligans in the mob had again started to vandalize the shops belonging to the minority population and the police had to resort to cane-charge and use tear-gas to disperse the mob.
The fault of the police force here was that it tried to stop the entry of the mob into an area dominated by the Muslim population. As per the district administration, the hooligans in the mob would have definitely fueled the communal tension if they were not stopped.
However, this protesting mob of locals isn’t entirely involved in violence, said sources. As per local sources, the teachers’ community and some locals are protesting against the manhandling of school staff at the Government Senior Secondary School Khushnagari on July 29.
Unfortunately, the current case of alleged rape appeared in an area that has significant Muslim population and the victim belonged to a Muslim family. It created an opportunity for hooligans to introduce communal fire using the region as ammunition.
On Saturday, after receiving the news of the rape of a student by a teacher, the angry locals had gathered at the school to meet the teachers. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) was also present on the scene.
The eyewitnesses said these teachers were absent on the day of the meeting and anger among people grew over this fact, reported the sources. The SDM had to call the teachers and ask them to reach the school. However, the verbal spat between locals and school staff spoiled the entire situation by then.
As per the administration, some alleged miscreants reportedly associated the matter with the Congress leader and Haj panel Chief, Dildar Ali Bhat. It was alleged that Dildar provoked his people to manhandle the teachers. Now, the protesters are demanding the removal of Dildar.
However, eyewitnesses and local sources reported that SDM had called Dildar suggesting him to come at the spot to keep the people calm in case things go wrong. The victim girl had alleged that she had brought her situation to the attention of some teachers too, but they didn’t act either to prevent the sexual assaults on her.
When these teachers arrived, the angry locals roughed-up them too. Sources said, the principal of the school also came in spate along with female school staff.
While Dildar was alleged of instigating the people to assault teachers, some other eyewitnesses said it was not so. As per these eyewitnesses, Dildar and the SDM had interfered to control the situation and stop the locals from beating the teachers.
The local sources also reported the existence of old political grudges between the Dildar and other political personalities of the area.
From that moment, the case took a different turn, and, as per sources, there appeared strong efforts to trigger communal violence under the cover of protesting mob. Violence was reported on Sunday in which several shops and a rain-shelter was set ablaze by the mob.
On Monday, the State unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad came out openly in defense of the teachers and presented the case with a very different angle. The State President of VHP, Himachal, Aman Puri, in a media statement, claimed it a case of communal violence in which the teachers were assaulted by people of the minority group.
At the night, said a local, some hooligans were trying to instigate minority population by raising communal slogans.
Some blogs and social media pages too started reporting the news based on unconfirmed reports and rumors. One of the blogs even went on to claim it an attack by the Haj Committee.
Who is exactly behind manipulating the issue?
The Chief Minister Virbhadra is alleging RSS and BJP for introducing the communal angle into the case ahead of the Assembly polls. The leader of the opposition, Prem Kumar Dhumal, have denied any role in introducing communal angle into protests in Tissa.
Instead, BJP has put the entire blame on the Congress Government as it criticised the deterioration of law and order.
There is no history of communal violence in the area and both communities have shared friendly social relations.
In that case, the unidentified hooligans have taken their positions in the protesting mob. In an angry mob, the man who pelts a stone first matters the most. Stone pelting will leave the administration and the police with no option but to resort to using force. Once the police use force to disperse the mob, more people join stone-pelting within no time.
This will create a perfect opportunity for hooligans to go on a rampage and set ablaze shops and public property.
Though the administration claims the situation to be under control, people are advised to be critical of rumors appearing on social media and blogs.
Photos: Amar Ujala