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‘Particularly Muslims are targeted’: Muslims in Mira Road Allege Police Inaction Amidst Communal Clashes

“Shukr hai yeh log khudko bacha ke bhaage nahi toh pata nahi kya karte woh log (Thankfully these escaped and saved themselves, or else I don’t know what would have happened to them)” says the owner of the mini-truck attacked by Hindutva mob in Mira Road on Tuesday.

Following three days of communal unrest, a Hindutva mob attacked a tempo transporting disposable plastics around 7:30 P.M. on Tuesday, in Meera Road, Mumbai. The incident unfolded amidst an ongoing rally, which beat up three Muslim men in the truck identified as Mohammad Tariq (22), Mohammad Meraj (24) and Deen Ali (27).

This comes as an aftermath of the Ram Temple inauguration, followed by the demolition of “illegal” Muslim-owned properties in Mira Road’s Naya Nagar area by the authorities, where communal clashes took place.

Speaking to The Observer Post, Abdul Haqq Chaudhary, owner of the tempo said that the vehicle was stopped by the mob, and three of them were attacked including his son Tariq, after they identified that the vehicle belonged to Muslims because of the ‘crescent & star sticker’ and the label ‘Rashid Tempo Services’. 

As per Chaudhary, the attack was planned and singled out Muslims only, as he points out that the vehicle in front of them was let go because it had a (saffron) flag, while the other two behind them belonged to Muslims.

“There was a vehicle in front of our truck which had the flags, so they let them go. Two vehicles behind us belonged to Muslims. One of them was an old man, and he too was beaten up. One of them was an old man, and he too was thrashed,” he said. adding, “Chun chun ke Musalmano ko target kar rahe hain (particularly Muslims are targeted)”.

“While one of them opened the door and managed to escape, the other two were mercilessly beaten up, sustaining injuries on their head, back and limbs as they hit using belts, rods and sticks,” he said. Meraj was seriously injured by the assault and lost a lot of blood, he added. 

Chaudhary alleged that the tension in Mira Road was stirred up again because of the speech given by a BJP MLA Nitish Rane instigating violence as part of the rally.

“I don’t think this will end soon. It would have stopped because after what happened on 22nd, the police handled it very well. But yesterday, BJP took out a rally, and the MLA had given a furious speech inciting hatred against Muslims,” he said.

Chaudhary, living close by on Kashi Meera road, was informed about the incident over a call, who directed them to take Meraj to a hospital. He said that the mob had swords, revolvers and other weapons “as if they have the license for its possession”. 

The assailants hurled communal slurs and chanted slogans of ‘Jai Sri Ram’, according to Chaudhary.

“Saare video khullam khulla sab horaha hai, action koi nahi leraha. Unnke neta unke saath hain. (The video is going viral, it is very obvious and clearly shown. But no action is being taken, because the administration is with them),” he said. 

Approximately 20 people launched a targeted attack on the aforementioned victims, while a larger crowd looked on without intervention, including the police, Chaudhary alleged. “Along with the rally, the police were also present but they did nothing,” he said.

According to Chaudhary, no case has been filed yet. “Jaanboojh ke case file nahi kiya. Mai samajh raha hun kuch matlab nahi khaali apna time waste hoga. Khaali chakkar maarna padega lekin kuch hoga nahi. Yeh 100% mai jaanta hun (I willingly did not file any case because I am 100% certain that no action will be taken against the perpetrators, I will just waste my time),” he said.

“During such situations, the local MLA is supposed to appeal for peace to ensure safety and harmony among the community. But here, the same people are giving such instigating speeches and creating issues instead,” he said.

“Police watched everything, yet did nothing, perhaps because of pressure from the above,” he added. 

In Naya Nagar, Mira Bhayender, on January 21, a clash erupted during a vehicle rally, organized by a group of 10-12 people praising Lord Ram ahead of the Ayodhya Ram Mandir Pran Pratistha ceremony. The dispute arose when a group of Muslims objected to firecrackers, proactive songs and during the event, resulting in the arrest of 13 individuals and the detention of 4 minors.

On January 23, the Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation used bulldozers to demolish around 15 structures in the Muslim-dominated Haidary Chowk area on Mira Road. The shop owners allege that they had legal documents for their properties, and no prior notices were issued before the demolition.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said a “zero tolerance” approach towards those disrupting law and order. He said, “There will be zero tolerance against anyone who tries to take the law into their own hands and attempts to disturb the law & order situation in Maharashtra.” Fadnavis also said that strict action would be taken against the culprits.

Shrikant Pathak, DCP Mira Bhayandar, commented on the ongoing investigation, saying, “We are investigating the incident. Action will be taken against the accused only…I appeal to everybody to maintain peace…The police have taken timely action.”

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