‘If Muslims voted for the SP in 2012, in 2014, they could turn to some other party’
Munawwar Rana, Renowned Urdu Poet
Who do you hold responsible for the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar?
I have never seen such a communal divide anywhere in UP in my entire life. I used to go to Meerut, Muzafarnagar and other towns of western UP to participating in mushairas, which were thronged by people of all communities. But this government, by its monumental inaction, has destroyed all. Had the UP government acted as a government is required to act as per law of the land, the tragedy could have been averted. I have no hesitation in saying instead of bridging the communal divide caused by so many reasons, the rift was allowed to grow wider and wider. I will judge the ruling party by its conduct during such adverse situations.
Will this influence the Muslim votes in 2014?
The SP government has singularly failed in performing its most basic duty in Muzaffarnagar. Muslims have been alienated by the SP. If they voted for the SP in 2012, in 2014 they could turn to some other party. The Muslims are angry and the SP will lose their support in any future election, but the BJP stands to gain by the polarisation caused by the riots.
What about the BJP and Narendra Modi’s efforts to reach out to the Muslims? Will he benefit from these riots?
The conduct of the SP cannot be compared with Narendra Modi. He never regretted his deeds. Even at the height of the Gujarat riots in 2002, we always saw him smiling on TV. But, then he had never imagined that a day would come when he would be made the prime ministerial candidate. Now he is desperate for an image makeover.
Virendra Nath Bhatt
‘The UP government cannot get away by claiming moral responsibility. The negligence was criminal’
Mahmood Madani, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind
You’ve visited the riot-affected areas of Muzaffarnagar. What do you think? Were these riots expected?
Yes, the riots were expected. There were small skirmishes in recent months. There were efforts to incite people. Local intelligence reports were ignored. There was absolutely no effort to quell the riots. The result is in front of us to see. The UP government cannot get away by merely claiming moral responsibility. The negligence was criminal. There are a lot of people who are alleging that the government deliberately tolerated riots. I don’t agree with this charge. However, I cannot defend it either.
There are allegations that the Samajwadi Party (SP) deliberately went slow on controlling the riots.
I don’t agree with this. The policemen who are claiming this, are those who had already faced action for their negligence. If these officers indeed got calls from SP ministers or leaders, they will have call records. Let there be an independent inquiry then.
The Jats and Muslims have by and large lived in harmony in Muzaffarnagar.
That’s true. I met a lot of villagers who told me about instances where Jats vowed to protect their neighbours and ensure that they won’t be displaced. Yet several thousands have been displaced.
What role do you think the Sangh Parivar played in inciting these riots? There are reports that rioters were chanting pro-Narendra Modi slogans.
I will not say much about them. It has been the Sanh Parivar’s tendency to incite mobs. However, in this scenario, there’s no point bringing in the Sangh Parivar, when it’s the UP government that has failed.
The Muslim voter had trusted the SP in the last election. What impact will these riots have on that trust?
It’s true that Muslims placed their trust in the SP. However, forget Muslims. This is an unpopular government. I cannot think of another government that has become so unpopular so quickly. They will be annihilated.