Ground Report: Begusarai: Villagers Reject Swarajyamag’s Communalisation of Dispute Between Two Families
On June 10, a Hindu family in Nurpur had alleged that they were being forced to leave the village and levelled an attempted rape charge against a Muslim family.
“On the night of June 10, my sister, my mother and I were asleep in the verandah. At around 1 am, three people broke into the house and started smashing things. Then, one man put a pistol on my head. A second man was tearing off my mother’s clothes and the third man was molesting my sister. They stripped my mother and tried to rape her. My sister pushed the man who was attacking her, and his revolver fell on the ground. Then, the men ran away,” narrates 16-year-old Rajiv Kumar*.
Rajeev’s family lives in Nurpur village in Begusarai, Bihar. Majority of the population in the village is Muslim. It is alleged that Laddu Alam and two others attacked Rajeev’s family and tried to rape his mother and his sister. Media outlets such as Swarajyamag gave a communal colour to the matter and reported that Muslims were persecuting the Hindu family and forcing them to leave the village. However, when NewsCentral24x7 visited the area, that did not appear to be the case. Conversations with various stakeholders in the village revealed the issue to be one arising out of a land-related dispute, now painted with a communal brush with Hindutva groups such as the Bajrang Dal allegedly trying to inflame tensions.
Rajeev’s mother, 45-year-old Vibha Devi* says, “Around a month earlier, Md Firoz Alam’s son Laddu Alam tried to harass me. We went to complaint about the incident at the Barauni Refinery police station but they didn’t register an FIR and asked us to resolve it at the community level. Then on the night of June 10-11, I was sleeping in the verandah alongside my children. Three men tried to rape me and my daughter. We cried out but no one came to help. What can I expect from such a community?”
She adds, “We went to the Refinery police station again to lodge a complaint. But only a munshi (clerk) was present there. No one heard our complaint. Police came at 5 in the morning, registered an FIR and arrested Laddu Alam.”
According to her, Laddu Alam’s family has threatened her to sell them her house for Rs 16 lakh.
Accused’s family denies allegation of attempted rape
While some members of the family were unwilling to talk about the matter, Laddu Alam’s mother, Razdan Khatoon said, “Most of us were away, attending a relative’s wedding. Only my son and a few others stayed back at the house. Our family has a land dispute with the complainant (Vibha Devi) but the accusation of attempted rape is false. The police has wrongfully arrested my son.”
Other villagers including Hindus reject communal narrative
Vibha Devi argues that because she lives alone with her children and her house is surrounded by those of Muslims, her family is being threatened to leave the area. She also claims that it is only because of the Bajrang Dal that the police is treating the matter with seriousness.
However, others in Nurpur village do not agree with the Hindu-Muslim narrative. One resident, Yogendra Das, explains that the altercation arose out of a land-related dispute and has nothing to do with religious differences. “Earlier, there was someone else’s house next to Vibha Devi’s. The said person sold it to the accused’s father and moved elsewhere. Vibha Devi also wanted to buy that land but she couldn’t and because of this, the two families quarrel every other day.”
Nurpur is a muslim-majority village, but there is also a significant population of Hindus that lives here. Many people from the Hindu community also say that this is a conflict between two families, and there is no reason to give it a communal colour. Yogendra Das adds, “There has never been a religion-related dispute between Hindus and Muslims. All of us live in harmony. There is no communalisation here.” Mintu Thakur and Rajeev Thakur, who run a saloon in the village, express the same.
Villagers are also distressed over outsiders’ interference in the matter. They say that members of right-wing groups like the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad come to the village in hoards and threaten Muslims. Md Niyad Ahmed, who runs a grocery store in the village says, “Bajrang Dal members come to the village and talk about slaughtering Muslims. Our village is peaceful. We are scared of outsider elements like these.”
What action has the police taken?
Out of the three accused, the police has arrested one (Laddu Alam) on allegations of attempted rape. Laddu Alam’s family has also filed a case of assault against Rajeev Kumar.
Additionally, Barauni Refinery police station SHO, Ajit Kumar, was suspended for negligence. Vivek Bharti has now been given the charge of the post
Speaking to NewsCentral24x7, Bharti said that the matter has no communal angle to it and that the victim family has been given police protection. However, when NewsCentral24x7 visited the victims’ house, no police officers could be seen. To this, Bharti said that they had moved away for 10 minutes to bathe and freshen up.
Begusarai district president of the ruling Janata Dal (United), Md Javed Alam said that they are committed towards ensuring the perpetrators are punished and that the JD(U) does not agree with linking of a criminal’s religion and the crime.
*Some names changed to protect identity.