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Mass migration of Muslims after murder of RSS activist

Saturday 30 April 2005, by IQBAL* Mohammed

Fear stalks the village after arrest of Muslim boys on `unconvincing’grounds

KARJALIA (RAJASTHAN): Mass migration of Muslim families from Karjalia village in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan following the murder of a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activist recently seems to have convinced the Sangh Parivar of the efficacy of its strategy to use an incident as a pretext to browbeat the minority community.

Muslims have been terrorised and boycotted in the village even after their return.

The developments in Karjalia since March 1, when 16-year-old Satyanarain Sharma - an instructor in the RSS `shakha’ - was found dead in a field, have made an alarming addition to the spate of communal incidents in Bhilwara.

The arrest of two Muslim boys in connection with the murder on `unconvincing’ grounds has left the community aghast in the village.

Minister’s support

Satyanarain’s father, Ramgopal Sharma, and the RSS activists of the village - who accuse three Muslim families of creating trouble in the past - had the support of none other than the Home Minister, Gulab Chand Kataria, who visited Karjalia on March 16 and offered to resign if the accused were not arrested within three days. Police acted swiftly and arrested Farooq Mohammed and Moin Khan the next day.

The two boys were already in informal custody of the police since March 4 and an atmosphere of terror and intimidation was created in and around Karjalia.

When the participants in a condolence meeting on March 6 issued open threats to kill Muslims and burn down their houses, all the 18 Muslim families fled the village under the cover of darkness in night and walked a distance of 37 km on foot to reach the district headquarter.

Ramgopal Sharma, while speaking to The Hindu , claimed that the accused had hatched a conspiracy to kill his son, but could not spell out the motive behind the murder.

"The uncle of the two boys, Moazzam Hussain, has doubtful credentials and is the real culprit," he said. Moazzam Hussain has since been booked under the Forest Act for illegally storing huge quantity of sandalwood.

The visit of Mr. Kataria to Karjalia on March 16, shortly after the RSS and Bajrang Dal activists blocked the Bhilwara-Beawar road with the demand for arrest of murderers, ensured an abrupt termination of police investigations into the killing. Police had reportedly got the lead to the offenders but had to discard it with Mr. Kataria publicly announcing the appointment of a new Investigation Officer.

Some families return

Even as some of the Muslim families have mustered courage to come back to the village, they are living in constant fear and are facing difficulty in getting essential commodities, such as milk and flour, with an undeclared boycott in operation against them.

"We have to survive among Hindus here. We cannot afford to displease them any more," said Nazeeruddin, who returned to the village this past Sunday.

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