Bhagalpur riot eye-witness
Malika Begum threatened
By Afsar Ali, Jamshedpur
Muslims living in fools paradise may say that the present ruling RJD Government is the messiah of Bihar Muslims. But Muslim intellectuals believe that RJD supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav has failed in exposing the commission report of Bhagalpur communal riot which flared up on 22 October 1989 and lasted till 15 January 1990. Mr Yadav has also been unable to bring the rioters to book during the last 11 years while the single living eye witness, Malika Begum, is being regularly threatened by the culprits.
It is no denying the fact that Laloo’s ‘MY’ (Muslim+Yadav ) slogan, which was coined only to befool Muslims is losing its charm day by day as the common Muslim realizes that Laloo succeeded to capture power in Bihar due to the anti–Congress political attitude of Muslims but he miserably failed in doing justice with Bhagalpur riot victims belonging to the Muslim community. It is worthwhile to note that Bhagalpur witnessed the communal riots during the regime of Congress (I) in Bihar and in the Centre. Muslims throughout Bihar had cast their votes against Congress and in favour of Laloo with the hope that his party would take positive steps.
These hopes were dashed because the RJD supremo never made up his mind to implement the Bhagalpur communal riot commission report.
The most painful matter is that the report was put up on 30 June 1995 in the assembly and on 5 July 1995 in the council without action taken report. Laloo’s honesty is questioned because he had declared that the rioters will be arrested within three months of his assuming power. This has been proved false. On the contrary several police officers involved in the Bhagalpur riot were rewarded by Laloo’s government. For example Mr Dohra (IG) was promoted to DGP and Mr. Dwedi (SP) was promoted to DIG. Similarly Major Om Prakash, who was accused of killing 20 Muslims, went without punishment and Chunchun Yadav; accused of killing 12 Muslim families, got Laloo’s party ticket to contest elections in Bhagalpur! The most regrettable matter is that out of 1486 persons, 1383 Muslims were killed but it is the Muslims who were punished during Laloo’s regime. Muslims of Bihar wept when on 18 April 1996 Daily Hindustan published on its front page: ‘Bhagalpur ka fasaad: ek to umar qaid aur giyarah ko dus bras ki qaid.’ (Bhagalpur riot: life imprisonment for one and ten years imprisonment for 11 persons). Beside this, two dozen Muslims had earlier received similar punishments.
It is of no use to to expect that the present RJD government will help Muslims now. The government, no doubt, projects the image of a well-wisher of Muslims but as a matter of fact Laloo’s wife Rabri Devi, the present chief minister of Bihar is unable to extend any kind of help to Malika Begum, the only surviving eye witness of Bhagalpur communal riots. The central government sent compensation fund to the government of Bihar. The state government wasted the amount in repairing the roads and building houses for Harijans. Nearly 600 Muslims were supposed to get compensation and some of the victims such as Malika Begum were promised government jobs.
Malika Begum, a brave helpless Muslim woman, was then a 14 years old unmarried girl when, on 27 October. 1989, her parents were slaughtered first and later burnt to death alongwith 70 Muslims at the locality of Chanderi in Bhagalpur. Luckily she escaped having witnessed the horror with her own naked eyes. She ran at break-neck speed in order to escape the clutches of the rioters. She knocked at many doors to get shelter. She cried at the top of her voice for help. But she couldn’t get any help. The rioters finally caught her and managed to cut off one of her legs with their sword before she could jump into a dirty pond and hid herself there. Later an army officer rescued her and brought her up as his own daughter. When she regained her senses she said: "I know everyone. I am the only eyewitness of 70 persons’ murder. Dumariya Yadav, Shushil Yadav, Chaguni Yadav, Hare Ram Pandey, Ranjit, Prakash Mukhiya, Muthu Mukhiya etc burnt my parents alive. They should be punished. I am ready to go to every court for justice, although I am left with only one leg now.’
What Malika Begum said on 30 Oct 1989 at the age of 14 she repeats today at the age of 25. She painfully says: ‘I had never dreamt that instead of getting punished the Bhagalpur rioters will get freedom. God will do justice. I am being threatened by the culprits and they may attack me physically. But I am not afraid of such attacks because I have seen death very closely.’
It is said that the state government is not paying attention to Malika Begum’s safety despite these threats. There is no one to help her. Her Kashmiri husband, Taj, robbed her of her compensation money and left her alone to struggle. She is alone bringing up her son Imtiaz Ali and daughter Fatima Taj. Laloo Yadav had promised to give her 4th grade government service but he failed to fulfill his promise. The state has even failed to provide her with medical assistance to rehabilitate her.
Talking to The Milli Gazette, Malika Begum says that some of the Muslim organizations shared the sorrow of Bhagalpur riot-affected brethren for one year. Now all of them have forgotten us as if our wounds have properly healed and we no longer need their help. ‘Ghulam Sarwar had considered me his daughter when I was the victim of Bhagalpur riot 11 years ago. Being Irrigation Minister, he forgot to fulfil his duty towards a helpless daughter’ says Malika. She further said that she met minister Prof. Lutfur Rahman of Bhagalpur and many other Muslim leaders. But none of them helped her. Who is here now to help me in my plight, asks Malika.