Uprooted Atali villagers hope to celebrate Eid at home

Uprooted Atali villagers hope to celebrate Eid at home

By MOHAMMED ANAS | NEW DELHI | 19 September, 2015
The uprooted families interact with activists
Atali had erupted in communal riots on 25 May this year when local Jats objected to the construction of a mosque.

Even as politicians are busy seeking mileage, social activists working in Atali village of Faridabad district have decided to bring back the uprooted Muslims of the village to celebrate the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha festival. Activists like Swami Agnivesh, Prahlad Singh Chaudhary and Ameeque Jamei, have managed to coax both the Muslim and Jat communities to bury the hatchet. They are even said to have the blessings of the local administration and the Minstry of Home Affairs.

Atali, one of the most prosperous villages of Haryana and merely 22 km from New Delhi, had erupted in communal riots on 25 May this year when local Jats objected to the construction of a mosque. All 150 Muslim families fled the village and since then are living in refugee camps in nearby villages and other shelter centres in Faridabad and Delhi.

"We plan to meet Home Minister Rajnath Singh this week and we hope he will lend his support to our peace plan. The local administration including the district magistrate and senior police officers are already assisting us," said Ameeque Jamei, the Delhi president of All India Tanzeem-e-Insaf, a social welfare group working among Atali's victims. Swami Agnivesh, who himself belongs to Haryana, is hopeful of an amicable solution to the community dispute in Atali. "Those who fomented communal tensions are very few in number. Most of the Atali villagers were and are in favour of peaceful coexistence," said Agnivesh. The construction of the mosque, which is at the root of the dispute, was okayed by the local administration after the Faridabad district court ruled earlier this year that the land where it was being constructed belonged to the Wakf Board. However, some local Jats, who were said to have been coaxed by some politicians, objected to its construction and attacked Muslim houses when they persisted with their construction plan. Prahlad Singh Chaudhary, a local independent politician from Atali village, said he had seen the existence of the mosque since his childhood. "It has been there since my father's time. The villagers were only building it anew. But some outsiders along with some local elements gave it a communal colour for political gains. I hope after violence and migration of their Muslim brethren, many of them must be regretting. I hope the mosque will be constructed on its exact site and the villagers will start living as before," said Prahlad. Master Dharamveer Singh, another Atali local, said: "The violence was the handiwork of some unruly youth. The majority of our youth are interested in education and due to the riots and police action, their studies have been hampered. We want the dispute to be settled soon."

Faridabad MP Kishanpal Gurjar, who is the Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, seems to have made no efforts to settle the dispute in his constituency. He refused to talk to this correspondent on the subject.

Local MLAs like Tek Chand Sharma of Bahujan Samaj Party (after being elected on BSP ticket, he later declared his support for BJP) and Congress MLA Anil Nagar are also said to be dilly-dallying on the issue.

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