Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Malegaon press

This developing town has seen many fluctuations in the past. The locals have also tried their hand in journalism and today there are Urdu and Marathi newspapers in good number.

Beedari was Malegaon's first Urdu newspaper. It was started by Maulanad Abdul Hameed Numani in 1935 and did well in its earlier editions but was shut down after a few years. The paper focused more on ethics, religion, social issues etc and had soon become the mouth-piece of the masses.

Daily Urdu Newsapapers: There are half a dozen Urdu newspapers that cover almost all the aspects of life. Shamnama is the most popular tabloid followed by Discipline, both eveninger. Other daily tabloids are Tarjuman-e-Urdu and Roznama. These city centric newspapers carry stories on current topics, politics, education, crime, sports, health, transporation etc. The papers are priced between 50 paise and Rs two.

Daily Marathi Newsapapers: There are five daily Marathi newspapers including Dinkar, Baale Killa, Mokshini Varta, Sair Samachar and Mausam Girna. The papers are priced between Re 1 and Rs three.

Weekly Urdu Newspapers: Over 50 weekly newspaers are registered but hardly a few of them make it to the stands. Awami Awaz, owned by former MLA and minister Nihal Ahmed, is one of the most popular weekly newspapers. Bebak has completed its 50 years. Al-Bayan is a religous newspaper which is being printed for the last 25 years regularly. Another socio-religous paper is Anwar. Haashmi Awaz, another weekly consists of political and social stories. It is being printed in the city for the last 20 years. The papers are sold betweeen Rs two and Rs five.

English Newspaper: City's first English newspaper, The Robo Age, was started by Abdul Lateef Ansari, a retired vice principal of a junior college. The newspaper has completed its 10 years of publication last November. It contains stories on current issues and its analysis, short stories, profile of well known personalities, general knowledge, puzzles, coverage on science and technology etc. The paper was launched to motivate students for competitive examination and also carries general review of such exams. The paper costs Rs two.

Children's Weekly paper: Khair Andesh is the oldest children's newspaper. It contains fictiional stroies and the reali life stories of world legends and the news makers. Bazm-e-Atfal is another paper for for children.

Powerloom - the ultimate business

(Picture by Asif Ansari)

Malegaon's textile industry:

Malegaon might be known for its thriving film industry, Mollywood, that often pay homage to Hindi films, albeit in its own unique form.

But today the quintessential powerloom has put this small town on the global map. Over one lakh powerlooms form the backbone of this town’s thriving textile industry.

Electricity was provided to Malegaon in 1936 and the first powerloom was purchased and installed by Abdur Razzaque Seth the same year. Prior to this, the city only had handlooms.

In 1936, a total of 10 powerloom machines were installed in Malegaon. By the late 80s, the handloom industry in the city had almost become dormant. In 1935, Razzaque Seth had installed a loom which was being provided energy through a diesel engine.

In 1883, the British government had conducted a survey of handlooms in Malegaon. As per the survey report, there were 2,441 handlooms being operated by 1,600 Muslims weavers. The handloom industry flourished betweeen 1910 and 1935.

Around five lakh people are dependent on this industry. The remuneration to the labourers is given on Friday, a weekly salary system. The labourers are called, Karigar, while the supervisor is called a mukadam while women and children look after the small unit of raw material making machine known as tarashan. A labourer earns an average remuneration between Rs 700 and Rs 1,000 a week. The owners of these powerloom units are referred as Seth.

The powerloom units manufacture clothes like polyester, Kemeric, lungis, sarees etc. The Malegaon lungis are famous across the country and the sarees are mostly exported to Rajasthan, Gujarat and interior parts of Maharashtra.

The cloth material prepared in these powerloom units/factories is exported to Surat, Rajasthan, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Madhya Pradesh and foreign countries too. There are several committees for the protection of powerloom owners like Malegaon powerloom Action Committee, Powerloom Sangharsh Samiti, Powerloom uddyog Bachao Samiti and Powerloom owners Association (registered).

Today, there are over one-lakh powerlooms in the town which prepare more than 1.10 crore metre clothes a day. The Malegaon Municipal Corporation earns around Rs 40 crores per annum through this industry in the form of octroi and other taxes.

2008 bomb blast

Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit was a serving army officer when arrested for his alleged connection with the Malegaon blast. He is accused of supplying RDX for the blast.

A powerful bomb, fitted on a motor bike, went off in Bhikku chowk area on September 29,2008. The bomb killed six persons and injured 101 persons. This was the second blast in two years. The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) arrested 11 persons belonging to Abhinav Bharat outfit. The trial is on in a Nashik court.

Purohit organised a terror training camp near Pachmarhi in MP for semi-literate Hindus. The recruits were taught how to make firearms, assemble and operate them for ‘self-defence’ in the 15-day session. However, the intention was not self-defence but to disrupt communal harmony.

Moreover, the confessional statements and witnesses’ testimonies in the Malegaon blast case have revealed that rightwing group Abhinav Bharat’s meetings discussed the possibility of an attack on Urs celebrations in Panipat.

Malegaon blast: Sept 29, 2008
Bomb’s make: RDX, ammonium nitrate, oil fuel, shrapnel
Spot: Bhikku Chowk, Malegaon
Time: 9.35 pm
Occasion: Two days before Ramzan Eid
Killed: Six, including an 11-yr-old
Injured: 101 persons
Investigating agency: The antiterrorism squad
Total arrested: 11
Still absconding: Ramji Kalangsara, Sandeep Dange and Pravin Mutalik
Who are they?
Members of Hindu hardliners’ outfits, Abhinav Bharat, Jai Vande Matram Jan
Kalyan Samiti, Hindu Rashtra Sena, among others
Confessional statements: 2
MCOCA slapped on the case: Nov 20, 2008
Pages in the chargesheet: 4,528 (filed on Jan 20, 2009)
MCOCA dropped by a special court: July 31, 2009

Behind Bars:
* Pragya Singh Thakur (38):
A former member of Durga Vahini, BJP's women's wing. A masters degree holder in History, Thakur took Sanyas and became a Sadhvi in January 2007. Thakur's bike was used to plant bomb in Malegaon. She is accused of engineering the blast.
She was arrested on October 23.

* Shamlal Sahu (42):
He is suspected to be one of the bomb planter. A commerce graduate from Christian College in Indore, Sahu has a mobile phone shop and also acted as a realty broker. According to Madhya Pradesh PWD minister, Kailash Vijayvargia, Sahu is a BJP member. Sahu is also accused of conspiring the bomb blast.
He was arrested on October 23.

* Shivnarayan Kalangasara Singh (36):
A B Sc graduate from New Sciene college in Indore, Singh works as an electrician and is also an LIC agent. He has been termed as ``mechanical and electrical'' expert by the ATS. He is suspected to have assembled the timer device while making the bomb.
He was arrested on October 23.

* Sameer Kulkarni (32):
A former member of Akhil Bharatya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) who moved from Maharashtra to Bhopal a few years ago. He was emploeyed in a printing press and would distribute pamphletes and literature ``to educate Hindu youths'' about religion. He is supected to have brough the chemicals used in the bomb.
He was arrested on October 28.

* Retired major Ramesh Upadhyay (64):
A resident of Akurdi in Pune, he worked in Military's intelliegence unit. Upadhyay is suspected to have provided training to the planters for assembling bombs and procuring the bomb material. He also headed BJP's ex servicemen's cell in Mumbai but was removed by the higher authorities.
He was arrested on October 28.

* Ajay Rahirkar (39):
He was the treasurer of Abhinav Bharat and part of the fund raisers' group. He is a Pune resident and had paid Rs 2.5 lakh to Swami Dayanand Pandey prior to the blast.
He was arrested on November 2.

* Rakesh Dhawde (35):
Dhawde has been booked in four bomb blasts cases too. They were Qadriya mosque blast in Jalna, Mohammediya mosque blast in Parbhani, another mosque blast at Porna and a bomb blast at a Bajrang Dal member, Laxman Rajkondwar's house on April 6, 2006. A Pune resident, Dhawde also arranged terror training for the Bajrang Dal members and collected weapons for training. He was a weapon consultant for Aamir Khan starrer movie, Mangal Pandey- The Rising.
He was arrested on November 2.

* Jagdish Mhatre (40):
A habitual criminal and accused in murder and extortion cases in Kalyan and Thane, Mhatre resided at Dombivili at the time of his arrest. He had paid money to Dhawde to buy weapons.
He was arrested on November 2.

* Lt. Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit (37):
He is accused of procuring the RDX used in the blast. Arranged and attended meetings, collectd funds and is a prime conspirator. He was posted at the Army Education Corpse Training Centre and College in Panchmadi, Madhya Pradesh where he was doing a course in Arabic at the time of his arrest.
He was arrested on November 5.

* Swami Dayanand Pandey alias Shankar Acharya alias Sukhakar Dwuvedi (40):
He had asked Purohit to arrange for explosves for the Malegaon blast. He conducted meetings with the other accused. He ran two ashrams, one Kanpur and another in Jammu and Kashmir, prior to his arrest.
He was arrested on November 14.

* Sudhakar Chaturvedi (37): Originally a resident of Mirzapur in UP, Chaturvedi was picked up from Deolali where he stayed in a rented room. He is accused of conspiracy.
He was arrested on November 18.

Case was first registered at the Azad Nagar police station in Malegaon on September 29, 2008. Later, it was transferred to the ATS police station (CR No. 18/08) in Mumbai.

The accused have been booked under the Indian Penal Code for crimes such as murder under Section 302, attempt to murder under Section 307 and conspiracy under Section 120-B. They have been slapped with provisions of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for trying to ‘overawe the government’ and ‘threatening the unity and integrity of the nation’, under the Explosives Act for use of RDX to engineer the blast, and the MCOCA for being members of an organised crime syndicate.

* Sections of the Indian Penal Code: 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 327 (voluntarily causing hurt to extort property, or to constrain to an illegal to an act) and 153 (d).

* Sections 15, 18 and 23 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA)
* Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Explosive Substance Act
* Sections 3, 7and 25 of the Arms Act
* Sections 3 (1) (i) and 3 (2) (3) (4) of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA)

The bike used in the blast is said to have been once owned by Sadhvi Pragya
* Recorded conversation between Lt Col Prasad Purohit and retired Major Ramesh Upadhyaya
* Traces of RDX found in Sudhakar Chaturvedi’s house SMS messages sent from Purohit’s phone to Upadhyaya Two important confession statements made in the presence of a magistrate
* 431 witnesses, of which five are army officers
* 12 written witness statements
* A laptop seized from Dayanand Pandey containing valuable proof

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2006 Cycle blasts

Four bombs went off in Malegaon on September 8, 2006 killing 38 people and injuring 297 others. All the bombs were planted on cycles and exploded between 1.45 pm and 1.55 pm. The first three bombs went off at Bada Qabrastan (cemetry) killing 30 people and the fourth bomb went off at Mushawerat chowk in central Malegaon. The bombs contained RDX, ammonium nitrate, nitrite and oil fuel. The police claimed the suspected wanted to creat communal tension between Hindus and Muslims. The police also said that the RDX, used in the bombs, was transported from Pakistan to Malegaon. The suspected were booked under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). The accused moved to the supreme court against the application of MCOCA in their case.

Sept 9, 2006: The Malegaon police released the sketches of two suspects based on the description of eye witnesses.

Sept 12, 2006: A hoax bomb was found on the staircase of Mohammedia mosque in Central Malegaon which contained mud and traces of RDX. A case was registered with the Azad Nagar police station.

Sept 15, 2006: The case was handed over the state anti terrorism squad (ATS).

Oct 8, 2006: Nooru-ul-Huda, an alleged member of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) was picked up and shown arrested the next day.

Oct 12, 2006: The police took Huda to Bangalore for lie-detector and narco analysis tests.

Oct 22, 2006: Huda booked for Mohammedia mosque hoax bomb case.

Oct 222, 2006: Over 650 suspects were questioned in a span of one and half months.

Oct 24, 2006: The police arrested Raees Rajjab Ali in the hoax bomb case. Huda used to work with Ali at a factory which would manufacture battery and inverter.

Oct 30, 2006: Huda's police custody was over and the ATS booked him in the serial blast case.


Oct 30, 2006: Noor-ul-Huda (24), a labourer was booked in the Malegaon bomb blast case. He was said to be a planter at Bada Qabrastan.

Nov 1, 2006: Shabbir Masiullah (34) also booked in this case as conspirator.

Nov 5, 2006: Raees Ahmed Rajjab Ali (35) was booked in the case. Said to be a conspirator and palnter along with Huda. Is brother in-law of Shabbir Masiullah.

Nov 6, 2006: Unani doctor Salman Farsi from Govandi arrested on charges of conspircy.

Nov 6, 2006: Unani doctor Farogh Makhdomi from Malegaon was arrested on charges of conspircy.

Nov 13, 2006: Mohammed Ali, a Govandi resident, is accused of supplying RDX to Malegaon accused. He was earlier arrested in the 7/11 train bombing case.

Nov 13, 2006: Asif Bashir Khan alias Junai, a civil engineer from Jalgaon, was booked in Malegaon case. He is accused of supplying RDX to Malegaon accused. He was earlier arrested in the 7/11 train bombing case.

NOv 21, 2006: Mohammed Zahid Abdul Majeed, a former SIMI activist was picked up from Yevatmal and arrested for his alleged role in the blast. Shown as a planter.

Dec 16, 2006: Abrar Ahmed Saeed (35), was arrested. Said to be planter at Mushawerat Chowk along with Zahid.

Dec 21, 2006: The ATS filed a 4,500-page charge sheet against the suspects and the case was handed over to the CBI same day.

A City I remember

ABHISHEK SHARAN, Special Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Hours after the bombs went off on September 8, 2006, in Malegaon, I had set off to the city.

It is a city that raises images of rickety power-loom units and communal riots, to outsiders. Having spent three days there on the reporting assignment, I found that there was much more to the city than the bland, ill-informed popular perceptions about it.

Along the way, as our Qualis had made its way through bumpy roads that day, I pored through pages of information on Malegaon---on its demography, topography and its tryst with violence and fundamentalism. I had got plenty of data, often conflicting and confusing, about incidents there, including a rally to ‘support Osama Bin Laden and Afghanistan’.

But I did not get a word about the people who called it their home. The people, as I realised, held key to Malegaon---its present and future.

I had met a ‘Hindu’ auto-rickshaw driver who refused to take me to the ‘Muslim’ section of the city. He said, something bad could happen ‘that side’ especially on ‘Fridays’. The auto-driver in the ‘Muslim’ section had the same sort of suspicion of the ‘other side’.

The ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ sections stand vertically separated, literally, by a river.

The ‘Hindu’ fort, with Saffron flags atop it, lies in the Muslim section and is looked after well by the locals.

At the blast-spots, in the Muslim section, I could see poor victims (Muslims) who were mourning for their departed ones. These were families whose 24 hours were spent struggling to lead a respectable living where the life’s basic needs were available. They had no idea who the blasts’ perpetrators were or why they had targeted them.

I met groups of residents---students, clerics, police officers, victims’ families and the anonymous men loitering on the streets. While a cloud of mistrust hung over the city, one of its traits was unmistakable---the locals offered friendship and help to any stranger, such as me.

Poverty, lack of access to modern education and basic urban amenities, and the fear of the known and unknown defined the city as well.

Days, and months after, the friends I made in that city would keep calling me periodically. I was Abhishek ‘bhai’ to them; I would call them ‘bhai’ too.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Malegaon Riots - Unlearnt Lessons from the Past

Author: Asghar Ali Engineer
Publication: Economic & Political Weekly
Date: December 1, 2001

The communal riots in Malegaon were the most serious in Maharashtra after the post-Babri masjid killings in the state in 1992-93. The riots have underscored once again the role of politicians in fanning communal tensions and the failure of the police and the administration to contain the violence in time and prevent it from spreading.

Malegaon was shaken by a sudden spurt of communal violence on October 26 after the Friday prayers in the afternoon. Communal violence has often a connection, direct or indirect with the announcement of elections. Within a couple of months elections to the civic bodies are expected in Malegaon and other towns and parties and contestants are worried about their vote banks. But it is the people who have to pay the price for being governed through elected representatives.

The riots in Malegaon were quite serious and the biggest after the Mumbai riots of 1992-93. Not that riots had not taken place after the Mumbai riots of 1992-93, and during the Shiv Sena-BJP rule as one commentator had suggested. Several riots had taken place in Penn, Junnar and other places during the SS-BJP rule. But it must be stated that the Malegaon riots overshadowed these in the post-Babri riots in Maharashtra.

Malegaon, a taluka, is a Muslim majority town in Nashik district. It has roughly a population of 8,00,000 of which nearly 60 per cent is Muslim. Most of these Muslims had migrated from UP and Bihar after the 1857 revolt due to persecution by the British, and are quite poor and illiterate. Hardly any government in Maharashtra has done anything to improve their economic conditions. Governments have used them for votes. A survey shows that the incidence of TB is also quite high among the Muslims of Malegaon. Malegaon is also an important centre of powerlooms like Bhivandi near Mumbai.

Besides elections, it is the incidents of September 11 in New York and Washington, that were also responsible for what happened in Malegaon. Muslims in Malegaon, like some Muslims in other places in India and elsewhere, are quite angry with the US for its continuous bombing of Afghanistan.

Some Muslims have expressed their resentment against US and Britain by giving a call for boycotting American and British goods particularly Coca Cola and Pepsi, the popular soft drinks. Some Muslim scribes from Deoband and other places in UP also issued a call appealing to Indians in general and Muslims in particular to boycott these soft drinks. Many Muslim hoteliers had even stopped selling these drinks. Some young boys in Malegaon were distributing the pamphlets appealing to the Indians to boycott these goods after the Friday prayers.

However, these pamphlets had nothing communal or offensive or even anything in support of terrorist attacks on September 11 in New York. It contained only an appeal to boycott American and British goods. The district authorities not wanting to take chances had made police �bandobast� outside all sensitive areas, for Malegaon is considered as one of the most communally sensitive areas in Maharashtra.

One of the SRP constables snatched a pamphlet from a boy who was distributing it and reprimanded him. However, according to another version he even slapped and arrested him. It is said that the boy refused to hand over the pamphlets to the constable. This led to protests from the people coming out of the mosque and resulted in skirmishes with the police. It is also said that the pamphlets in question were being distributed in Malegaon even a week before that Friday. It was also said that the Imam of the Jami� masjid Mufti Muhammad Ismail and advocate Shuaib intervened and asked the people to disperse peacefully. It is obvious that much trouble could have been avoided if the police had merely requested for the pamphlets and not used force. It is also being pointed out that first the police demanded the pamphlets and after it was refused force was used. Actually it should not be the job of the police on duty to demand the pamphlets. It could have been collected politely by a plainclothesman from intelligence department. Instead an SRP constable seized the pamphlets and so much violence resulted.

Protests and Counter-reactions

As there was anger already simmering against the police and the US attack, S P Suresh Ahire reached there with reinforcements and the local Congress MLA Sheikh Rashid also reached the spot. People were demanding an apology from the police for snatching the pamphlets and arresting the boy. As the crowd was getting restless the police resorted to lathicharge with great intensity. Many people were injured and they began to run. The crowd ran towards Muhammad Ali and Qidwai road and there were scuffles with the police. Stone pelting began and many people including three policemen were allegedly injured.

It is then that the police used force and begin firing in the direction of Muhammad Ali road. The police fired nine rounds in which seven persons were injured. Three persons died, of which one was a 18 year-old boy who was hit in the head; another 23-year old man was hit above his navel and a 45-year old woman Biqis Bano who was drying clothes on the terrace was hit in the chest and died in Faran hospital. All three were hit above the waist.

Before we proceed further some comments about the role of the police are in order. The police, particularly those in the lower ranks, often fire in excess against weaker sections of the society particularly the minorities, tribals and dalits. There is the instance of the sub inspector Kadam firing on dalits in Ghatkopar a few years ago in which more than 10 dalits were killed. The Gundewar Commission then had observed that the firing was in excess. We also have the Srikrishna Commission report, which probed the role of the police so painstakingly, and concluded that the police was guilty of deliberately killing Muslims in many instances, during the Mumbai riots of 1992-93.

If the government does not pay attention to intensive training and sensitising the police towards human life this will recur in riot after riot. No such attention is being paid to this despite so many instances of the police brutalities. IPS officers of high integrity are few and far in between. For example in Malegaon too, an additional director of police was sent to control the situation. As a man of great integrity, he had controlled riots in Bhivandi during 1992-93 but this time it was too late. By the time, he went to Malegaon damage was already done.

The crowd became even more restless after the firing The firing took place at about 4.05 pm on Muhammad Ali road. From there, the crowd spread to the other side of the river Mausam and began indulging in looting and burning shops and other properties belonging to the majority community; sections of majority community retaliated by burning shops and properties of Muslims. There is a Shiv Sena organisation in Malegaon called Janta Raja which is controlled by the Anand Dighe faction of Thane, who incited the Hindus to attack Muslims and their properties. The Samna also wrote, as usual, provocative articles and even said that if Muslims are in majority in Malegaon, Hindus are in majority in villages and we will teach them a lesson.

On October 26, 2001, cases of arson occured between 4 pm and 7 pm in Dana Bazar, Gur Bazar, Kirana Bazar, Shashtri Chowk, Nihalnagar, Muhammad Ali road, etc. The communal elements of the majority community openly began provoking people in a number of areas around Malegaon like Samakser, camp and Suigaon and rumours began to spread in all directions, as is usual in riots. In Samakser, Muslim properties were destroyed, looted and burnt. Communal elements and anti-social elements from both communities were openly looting and burning properties. There were two cases of stabbing but all others (about 13 persons according to official figures and 15 according to other sources) were killed in police firing. Among those who died about 12 persons were Muslims and two Hindus, one remained unidentified.

The looting and burning continued for a few days and the situation came under control only after November 3, curfew had to be imposed for long hours from the very first day and day curfew has been relaxed since November 7. The night curfew, however, still continues.

It is highly regrettable that such a major riot took place in which 15 persons were killed, more than 12 injured in police firing and 477 persons were arrested. We have heard many painful stories of people being killed. One Khalil member, a person who was working for peace was called from his house on the pretext of controlling the mob and was killed. Water pipes were broken by the miscreants and Malegaon went without water for a few days. A rumour was also set afloat that milk has been poisoned and many had to go without milk.

In villages and nearby areas it is mainly Muslims who suffered. In places like Rawalgaon (the famous chocolate town), Deola and Kalwan it is Muslims who mainly suffered. In Malegaon alone property worth more than 15 crore was destroyed and in other places property worth more than two crore was lost. Some estimates put the losses much higher.

Election Rivalries

It has been pointed out by some that the riots were caused mainly by election rivalry between the present Congress MLA and Nihal Ahmed of Janata Dal (Secular). There is no doubt both are political rivals and Sheikh Rashid, the Congress MLA even alleged that Nihal Ahmed had provoked the Muslims and thus the riots ensued. However, Nihal Ahmed denies the charge. It is true that Nihal Ahmed had taken out a procession against the bombing on Afghanistan on October 19 in which many Muslims joined and some youth even carried placards with Osama bin Laden�s pictures. Nihal, however, maintains, he did not control the youth who carried the placards. It had not he who invited them to join his protest march and carry the placards.

Whatever the fact is that elections to the municipal council is due in Malegaon, and politicians are tempted to cater to the sentiments of their voters. Both Sheikh Rashid and Nihal Ahmed had an eye on the coming elections and wanted to be on the right side of their voters� sentiments. It is however, for all of us to reflect that elections are at what cost? Should we play with the sentiments of our people as our politicians have been doing so far? Can elections be fought only on communal issues?

The BJP is also hotting up on the Ayodhya issue once again since elections in UP are due. It is exploiting the issue of terrorist attacks and by now enacting POTO is strongly justifying it to cater to the Hindu sentiments on terrorism. The Congress-NCP government has also failed miserably in controlling the riots in Malegaon, despite the town being given to the army control. This itself is a serious thing that the army had to be called out on the third day of rioting.

The charge that when the Congress is in power, more riots take place (already small riots up to more than 40 in number have taken place in Maharashtra since the Congress-NCP government came to power) and when BJP or Shiv Sena is in power, riots cut little ice. Whenever the Congress is in power it is obvious that the BJP or Shiv Sena is out to cause communal trouble to alienate Muslim voters from the Congress, on one hand, and to consolidate their Hindu vote bank on the other.

Thus the Congress has to be doubly cautious while in power to maintain communal harmony. But it is often seen that it miserably fails to maintain communal harmony as has happened in the case of Malegaon. To prevent riots, police machinery on one hand, and administrative machinery on the other, must be spruced up. But the Congress government hardly plays any role and neglects this vital function to maintain harmony. The Congress once again has proved that it is incapable of pulling up the police force. If it has to revive itself and won over Muslims in UP it must play very proactive role in controlling communal situation in the state where it rules. But there are no such signs as yet and as usual it is succumbing to communal pressures.

Though the Congress committee led by Motilal Vohra has given a clean chit to chief minister Deshmukh, in handling riots, it can hardly convince the victims of riots in Malegaon. It also must be pointed out that despite such a vicious communal atmosphere Hindus and Muslims saved each other�s lives. Muslims protected four Hindu families in Pawar Gali and Hindus protected Muslims in other areas. This gives us hope in an otherwise politically hopeless situation in the country.

The government initially had ordered only a magisterial inquiry but later on due to pressure from Sonia Gandhi a judicial inquiry has been instituted. So much for the government�s seriousness about the Malegaon riots. Chhagan Bhujbal, the home minister, had also turned down any offer of compensation for those killed and injured, saying it would amount to rewarding the mischief makers. Bhujbal should have known that very few miscreants are killed. It is mostly the by- standers who pay with their lives. It is only now that the government has agreed to give compensation though the amount remains to be fixed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

2006 Malegaon blast

Four bombs killed 31 people and injured 297 others on September 8, 2006. This was the first terror strike in the textile town.

2006 blast

Policemen from across the state were deployed for bandobast in Malegaon after four bombs exploded in the textile town on September 8, 2006. The bombs killed 31 and injured 297 others. Photograph by PTI

2006 blast

A TV image of the September 8, 2006 Malegaon bomb blast. At least 31 were killed and 297 others were injured. Banned outfit, SIMI, has been held responsible for the blast.

2008 blast accused

Malegaon bomb blast's prime suspect, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, being escorted to the court for hearing in Mumbai. She is one of the 11 accused to be nabbed for the blast which had killed six on September 29, 2008

2008 blast accused

Two prime accused allegedly involved in the September 29, 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case. Sadhhvi Pragya Singh Thakur (left) and Shankaracharya Swami Dayanand Pandey alias Sudhakar Duvedi. Six persons were killed in the blast that contained RDX, ammonium nitrate, shrapnel, nut and bolt. Eleven accused, all members of the Abhinav Bharat outfit, are still in the jails.

2009 Parliament election rally

The Shiv Sena-BJP for the first time hoisted green flags alongside saffron ones to show their interest and need for Muslim votes during the 2009 Parliament election campaign. The rally was organised at Eidgaah ground in Malegaon's camp area.

Malegaon Corporation

The front view of Malegaon Municipal Corporation. It is located near the Malegaon Fort. Photograph by Mubasshir Mushtaque

Malegaon film

A scene from the movie, Superman of Malegaon, a local film. Photo

Malegaon film

A scene druing the shooting of film`Superman of Malegaon'. PHOTO:

Malegaon film

Director Shaikh Nashir Prine on the sets of `Superman of Malegaon' with the actor. This movie has brought Malegaon's lcoal film industry on the national map. Photo: The Times

Hindu-Muslim Iftar party

An Iftar party for Muslims in Malegaon. The party was organised by Hindus as a part of Hindu-Muslim unity in the city. Photograph by Mubasshir Mushtaque

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cycle- Prime mode of transport

Cycle is the main mode of transport in Malegaon town. Small boys can be seen on the streets on cycle frequently. Sadly, cycles were used to plant four bombs in Malegaon on September 8, 2008 which killed 31 and left 301 injured. A pic by Aasif Ansari

Powerloom - city's sole industry

Powerloom is the prime economy of this town. It is known for its strong powerloom industry but most of the scrap machines, rejected by other states, are used in this township. A powerloom machine costs between Rs 20,000 and Rs one lakh. A photograph by Aasif Ansari

The final journey

The manufactured cloth is being transported to the market.

Giving the last touch to the product

The raw material has been manufactured and a worker is making the arrangement for keeping the cloth in organized system.The cloth will be pressed, labeled and then sent to market for selling. A Photograph by Aasif Ansari

Woman at Work

This woman is working on a machine called Tarashan. It manufacutres raw material which is in turn used for Powerloom.

Woman at work in Malegaon

Powerloom is the prime economy of this town. Women are equally hard working in this town as men. A woman in this picture is seen working on a machin called Tarashan. The woman earns Rs 500 a week. A tarashan machine, which is the first step towards weaving cloth, costs between Rs 20,000 and Rs 60,000. A photograph by Aasif Ansari

Malegaon's Urdu Library

This 60-year-old `Urdu Library, in Malegaon has a collection of well-known Urdu writers ranging from literature, humour, fiction, poems, history, civilizations to education, medcine, health etc. This is considered to be the most modern and well equipped library. A photograph by Asif Ansari