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Hindu-Muslim dispute upsets harmony of Kapilvastu village

- MANOJ PAUDEL, KAPILVASTU

Jan 11, 2017- A Hindu-Muslim dispute is threatening the social harmony of Basbariya settlement of Bidhyanagar VDC in Kapilvastu.

The discord that stemmed from a disagreement between the two communities during a Durga Pooja procession in October last year has led to at least two incidents of clash, the latest one resulting in a death. 

While police are investigating into the death of Munnulal Yadav, 55, who was allegedly beaten to death in a clash with local Muslims on 12 December 2016, more than 100 Muslim people have fled the settlement.

Basbariya is a Muslim-dominated settlement where 100 of the 124 families are of Islamic faith. Today, it is difficult to see Muslim faces in the village.

Najima Badai, a Muslim woman whose husband and son fled the settlement after Munnulal’s death, said she was worried about her 60-year-old husband who suffers from fainting spells.

“I don’t know where he is, whether he is taking his medicines or not,” she said.  

Darbari Prasad Yadav said there was no tension between the Hindu and Muslim communities before the Durga Pooja incident. He said the disagreement began when local Muslims tried to stop the Durga idol immersion procession from taking the route that passed through the local mosque.

The procession went past the mosque anyway, which apparently caused anger among local Muslims.

“The death of Munnulal made the situation worse,” said Darbari Prasad. “Munnulal’s brother, Tilakram, and other villagers were also seriously injured when the Muslims attacked us, Hindus.”

Before the December 12 clash, another Hindu man was also allegedly assaulted by a gang of young Muslim men on November 16. The victim, Amardip Yadav, told police that he was attacked when he confronted the men who had vandalised a makeshift irrigation dam that he had built at a local stream. Police had arrested some local youths in connection to the incident.

Many locals from the Hindu community see the assault on Amardip as a deliberate act of aggression by the Muslims to exact revenge for the Durga Pooja incident. And the death of Munnulal seems to have vindicated their view.

Besides deploying five police officers at Basbariya, the local administration has not made any concrete effort to reconcile the Hindu and Muslim communities.

Today, the suspicion and fear these two communities harbour towards each other is palpable in the air. The Muslims who remain in the settlement fear communicating with the Hindu villagers these days.

The police team deployed to the settlement has been staying in the house of local schoolteacher   Zahoor Khan, who too has fled along with his wife and their five

children.

Superintendent of Police Bhoj Jung Shah said they have arrested six suspects in connection to Munnulal’s death, but refused to give out other details.

For everything that have transpired in Basbariya since the Durga Pooja incident, the Hindus lay the blame to the Muslims and the Muslims point at the Hindus. Neither side seems to be ready to begin the process of healing the social wounds the incidents have inflicted. 

The local administration and religious leaders who could play a crucial role of intermediaries during such situation are noticeably absent.   

Published: 11-01-2017 09:20

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