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Special Report
Mubarakpur riots
By Obaid Nasir, Lucknow

Mubarakpur riotsThe simmering animosity between Shias and Sunnis in weavers town of Mubarakpur in Azamgarh district of Eastern U.P. took a violent turn on 5 November when miscreants in a series of bomb blasts and indiscriminate firing killed about 15 persons including women and children and injured more than fifty persons. A total of 80 persons were arrested and indefinite curfew was imposed which continues till the filing of this report. This shameful in-fighting between two Muslim sects whose God, Prophet and holy book are one and same, deserves introspection. After Lucknow it is Mubarakpur which is getting notoriety on this front. 

A wall of local Imambara is the bone of contention. Last year in the month of April this dispute took a violent turn and in January this year riot broke out killing three persons which resulted in the imposition of curfew for 22 days. The dispute has some economic angle also. Mubarakpur is famous for Banarsi sari trade. Both Shias and Sunnis belonging to the weaver (Ansari) community are involved in this business. There is some business rivarly on this count. A healthy competition is always welcome but when limits are crossed the sense of fair and foul vanishes and the results are there for every one to see. The incident was so sudden and unexpected that not only the people of Mubarakpur but even the top brass of administration here in the state capital were taken unaware.

According to knowledgeable sources, something untoward was expected any moment as the people arrested in connection the the January riots were released on bail recently and a retaliation was possible. But it was not in the wildest imagination of anybody that the revenge will be so violent. 

The incident occurred after Maghrib prayers when Maruti van-borne miscreants reached Dulhan Ka Purva crossing and started hurling country-made bombs and indulged in indiscriminate firing resulting in the death of Abu Talib, Sikandar, Aftab Fariduddin, Abdul Hameed Ms. Umme Fatima Imran, Mansoor Altaf and others. About 50 people were injured due to stampede. Out of 11 persons killed on the spot six belong to the Shia community and five to the Barelvi Sunni group. 

It is alleged that the carnage is the handiwork of people belonging to the Deobandi sect as both the Shia and Barelvi Muslims are Ta’ziadars [take out ta’zia processions during Muharram] whereas Deobandis are dead against it. Some people are also linking it with the assassination of the noted Shia ‘alim Maulana Syed Agha Mehdi of Kashmir. Mr. Rang Nath Misra, minister of state for home, after visiting Mubarakpur expressed his apprehension that opposition parties may be behind this carnage to sully the image of new chief minister Mr Raj Nath Singh who has given top priority to law and order in the state. The chief minister has granted an ex-gratia payment of Rs one lakh (0.1 m) each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs. 20,000 to those seriously injured and Rs 10,000 to those who sustained minor injuries. He also ordered proper treatment to all the injured. Speaking to The Milli Gazette he said that there is no doubt that the clashes are pre-planned. ‘We are conducting an enquiry and those found guilty will not be spared,’ he said. He also did not rule out the possibility of political mischief. 

Enquiries and administrative actions apart it is high time for the Muslim leadership and clerics to ponder over the issue and pay a visit to Mubarakpur and try to change the hearts of Muslims, who are unfortunately blinded by sectarian considerations. People are remembering late Maulana Kalbe Abid who did this wonder in Varanasi.
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