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Mubarakpur riots destroy the Banarsi sari industry

People of Mubarakpur town have still not been able to come out of the after-shock of the intra-Muslim riots in this town (see MG20). The town is still in the grip of uncertainty. People are unable to believe that normalcy is round the corner. 

The animosity between Shias and Sunnis in this town in Azamgarh district of eastern UP took a violent turn on 5 November when miscreants in a series of bomb blasts and indiscriminate firing killed about 15 people including women and children and injured more than fifty people. A number of people have been arrested and put into jails after the riots broke out. The toll has further increased and according to the independent sources around 25 people have been killed so far in this bout of riots. 

The day curfew has been lifted from a few pockets whereas in some other areas it is still continuing. The night curfew is supposed to continue for some more days to come. If the riots that broke out early this year are any indication, the fresh bout can continue for three or four more weeks to come. In January this year five people were killed and curfew continued for some twenty-two days. 

The recurrence of riots and communal tension in the town always results in the business activities being hampered and people are unable to trade even the commodities of common use. Commodities of common use have become scarce as usual. Prices of essentials like milk, sugar, rice, potatoes and other similar items have skyrocketed, making them out of the reach of the common man.

The business of Banarsi saris has also been hit hard. The city that had not fully recovered from the after-shock of riot that took place in January that had seriously hampered the trade, is now doomed to be left far behind in the business it is famous for. 

Big or small, every businessman is hit hard by another spell of riots. They seem sure that it has become quite hard for them to survive in this atmosphere. A number of people have also been thinking of migrating to other cities famous for the same trade like Varanasi and Mau.

The town with a population of around 0.1 million is totally dependent on Banarsi saris. The curfew has resulted in the closure of the sari manufacturing units. A rough estimate of the towns' daily business of sari put it around Rs 20 million. And during curfew not a single penny comes from any sources for the industry. Almost every house has handlooms and every house is associated with the Banarsi sari industry. Orders from across the world come daily for the saris as it is very popular not only in the country but all over the world, but they cannot do any thing. 

In the meantime, a group of ulama who were heading for the town were stopped to enter the town. They said later in a press release that had they been allowed to enter the town normalcy would have returned sooner. Ulama of both the sects, Shia and Sunni were in the delegation. 

Meanwhile the police has claimed to have arrested seven people accused of masterminding the bomb explosions in the town on 5 November. Another accused appeared before the court himself. The news of the accused’s arrest has given people some hope.

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