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Riot rocks Gonda
By Obaid Nasir, Lucknow

When the whole nation was celebrating the victory of good over evil forces led by Sangh Parivar activists let loose a reign of terror in Gonda city of eastern UP on 26 October. Hindu devotees were busy in immersing the Durga idols and many gaily decorated processions were taken out. They all passed off peacefully. Suddenly when the participants of last procession reached Ek Minara Masjid at Ekta Chowk area, they started raising provocative slogans like Pakistan Murdabad, Osama bin Laden Murdabad and when the Muslims did not react they started bursting crackers, two of which fell inside the mosque where Namazis had gathered for Asr Namaz. When the Namazis raised objection, the processionists went berserk and started pelting the mosque with stones. According to reliable sources the hoodlums were led by Guddu Singh, son of Satyadev Singh, former member of Parliament and state vice president of BJP.

The processionists who were perhaps fully prepared to face any eventuality started looting shops and putting them on fire. More than twenty shops were looted and goods worth crores of rupees were destroyed .The police swung into action a bit late and started lathi charge to disperse the mob. Later it resorted to tear gas shelling and firing in the air. It took more than three dozen persons into custody majority of whom were Muslims. Curfew was first declared in three police station areas but after the violence spread in some other areas undeclared curfew appeared to be declared almost in the entire city.

The District Magistrate Mr. Dubey and Superintendent of Police Mr. Chavinath Singh clearly admitted that it was because of the provocative slogans that the violence broke out.

Congress and Samajwadi parties have blamed Rajnath Singh and BJP for communal trouble in Gonda and other cities of the state. Samajwadi party has even demanded the resignation of chief minister. Both the parties sent delegations to Gonda to probe the incident and report to High Command. Congress delegation was headed by Harshvardhan, former MP of the area which submitted its report to the state President SP Jaiswal and demanded immediate arrest of BJP, VHP leaders including local MP Brijbhushan Singh and Guddu Singh etc. .

But the district administration played tough with the Samajwadi party delegation which had gone there under the leadership of Amar Singh, the national spokesman and general secretary of the party. They were sent back as soon as they entered Gonda district. Later, addressing the press in Lucknow along with Shivpal Singh Yadav and Ahmad Hasan, he said that the BJP government in order to hide its sins has not allowed Samajwadi delegation to meet the victims of loot and arson that was let loose by BJP men. He said that the BJP workers are allowed to roam freely in the curfew bound area, openly displaying arms and waving sword to terrorise the members of minority community.Their shops and belongings were looted and put on fire and Members of the same community have been arrested.

Amar Singh charged that the BJP workers in the procession were carrying swords and other lethal weapons .He disclosed that not only Gudu Singh but even BJP member of Parliament Brijbhushan Singh and his shooter Nirbhai Singh led the mob that put the shops of minority community on fire .He said that seventy shops and houses belonging to Muslims were gutted in no time.

Amar Singh was all praise for the restraint showed by Muslims of Gonda inspite of the provocation by Sangh parivar workers .He said that the community traders have suffered a loss of about Rs10 crores but did their best to save the lives and properties of Hindu brethren . He said that the party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has sanctioned Rs 25 lakh from party fund to be distributed among the victims. 

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