Muslim inter-caste tension surfaces in Bihar

In the first such official action in an incident of caste violence among Muslims, East Champaran District Magistrate Abhijit Sinha has sought a comprehensive report on the assault on a 30-year-old resident of Allahpur village allegedly by upper-caste Muslims.
A case has been registered against 12 of them, including Rampur Bairiya panchayat headman Sarfaraz Alam Khan alias Munna Khan, by the Kesaria police, on a complaint by Akbar Ali Ansari. A resident of Allahpur village in Motihari, a disabled Ansari was badly beaten up and left for dead on December 7 night by 20 men, who attacked him with guns, iron rods and wooden sticks.
Ansari, who runs a small medicine shop, was riding pillion on a bike with fellow villager Mohammed Mustafa Ansari. While Mustafa managed to flee the spot, he suffered fractures in his left hand and right leg from the beating and had to undergo surgery.
According to Ansari, he had provoked Munna Khan’s ire by challenging his 2011 election as panchayat headman, claiming he had given a false affidavit to the Election Commission. Recovering at a Motihari nursing home, Ansari said: “I had filed a writ petition in the Patna High Court against the mukhiya’s election as he had concealed that he was one of the accused in a 2007 arson case. I also complained against him to the Election Commission.”
According to villagers, the same group of 20 upper-caste Muslims had attacked a village youth two months ago, though no FIR was registered then.
Allahpur, which is dominated by Ansaris (considered OBC), has been facing oppression from upper-caste Syeds and Pathans. Said Mustafa Ansari: “It all started in April 2004 when upper-caste Syeds and Pathans beat up a groom and some members of a wedding party because the groom who was going to marry an Ansari girl dared to travel in a Maruti car and cross houses of the Syeds.” He described conflicts between Syeds and Ansaris over using the common village road in 2005.
Akbar Ali Ansari’s mother Zumeratia Khatoon said the upper-castes were also angry since 2006, when Ansari dared construct their own mosque, though a thatched-roof one.
While Syeds and Pathans are landlords and have businesses and jobs in the Middle East, Ansaris are daily wagers and share-croppers. Syeds allegedly torched over half-a-dozen Ansari households in December 2007. Sarfaraz Khan, one of the accused in the case, evaded arrest.
Rasil Mohammed, a village elder, said their attempt to run a separate primary school was also foiled as “big people” succeeded in “taking away a government-sanctioned primary school near their madarsa”. He alleged their children had stopped going to the madarsa as they were often ill-treated there. Now the Ansari children study in a make-shift school run in a community hall.
Sarfaraz Khan, however, denied playing caste politics. “I have nothing to do with the Akbar Ali attack. I am an elected representative and do not discriminate on caste lines,” he said.


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