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New Delhi: Seven people were arrested after they allegedly threw pieces of pork, letters abusing Muslims and torn pages of an Islamic text at some mosques in Ayodhya in an attempt to instigate communal violence.
The arrested belong to an outfit called the ‘Hindu Yodha Sangathan’, and the leader of the group is a history-sheeter with four criminal cases registered against him, police told PTI.
The police said they have registered four FIRs in connection with the incidents that took place at the Taatshah Jama Masjid, Ghosiyana mosque, a mosque at the Kashmiri Mohalla and a mazar known as Gulab Shah Baba.
“It was an attempt to create communal violence and incite riots in Ayodhya,” they said in a statement. On Tuesday midnight, the accused threw pieces of pork, letters threatening a particular community and torn pages of a sacred text at the mosques and a mazar, it said.
Eleven people were involved in the conspiracy and four of them are on the run, the police said, adding that they found the accused had purchased skull caps, two copies of the Quran, pork and writing materials.
Those arrested were identified by the police as the outfit’s leader Mahesh Mishra, and Pratyush Kumar, Nitin Kumar, Deepak Gaud, Brajesh Pandey, Shatrughan and Vimal Pandey, all residents of the Kotwali City police station area.
According to the Indian Express, Ayodhya police said Mishra was the “mastermind”, and the acts were planned “in opposition to the recent incident in Delhi” [a reference to the communal violence in Jahangirpuri on Hanuman Jayanti].
The accused have been booked under relevant sections of the IPC, including 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), the police said.
They first attempted to plant the objectionable items at a mosque in Beniganj, but due to police presence in the area, they moved to the three mosques and the mazar, the police said.
The organisation the group is working under, police said, is run by Mishra. “Basically, Mishra runs this so-called outfit. It has not been registered, and doesn’t even have an office. Mishra is the one who incited the others. The accused have no affiliation with any political party or any registered outfit,” Indian Express quoted a police officer as saying.
Majid Khan Baba, part of the administration at the Gulab Shah dargah, shared details of the incident with The Wire. “I reached the Gulab Shah Dargah at 8 am. I was informed by the khadim of the dargah about the incident. We saw that the Quran Sharif was coloured with blood. There was a piece of stale meat and an objectionable poster. It stated, ‘If you pelt stones, we will bomb you.’ It also stated that ‘We have damaged your Quran, if you are born to one mother, come out on the streets and fight’.”
He alleged “that the attempt by the accused was a planned and a coordinated effort to target Muslim spaces of worship. The men gathered at Kaushalpuri late at night where two of the men live. They hopped on to four different bikes. Post that they congregated at a local dhaba and proceeded to Kashmiri Mohalla where they targeted a mosque. The CCTV footage shown is of the Jama Masjid.”
Locals told The Wire that Mishra, the main accused, is infamous in the area. Imran Hashmi, a student leader, said that Mishra had previously filmed himself urinating on a poster of B.R. Ambedkar.
In another audio recording, Hashmi alleged, Mishra can be heard hurling communal slurs and targeting a local dargah.
Speaking to The Wire, Hashmi said, “There is a pattern associated with Mishra. However, he has not faced any repercussions. These elements are attempting to provoke riots in our city and we are demanding that stringent action must be taken against these men.”
“What about bulldozers now? What will be done to them is a big question,” he said.
(With inputs from Sumedha Pal and agencies)