Locals confined indoors by ‘unofficial curfew’ in Bhadarsa

Yadav

Reeling under an 'unofficial' curfew for the past eight days, people in Bhadarsa town of Faizabad district got a reprieve with a two-hour relaxation on Wednesday.

With all focus on the violence in Faizabad city, no one had time for Bhadarsa town, which remained totally cut off, as the entry points remained sealed, prohibiting all movement in and out of the town.

Officially, no curfew was imposed in Bhadarsa, but locals have been confined indoors, with police patrolling the streets, since the violence broke out on October 24. Like in Faizabad, the violence in Bhadarsa began after the sprinkling of colour outside a mosque during a procession. It claimed one life and more than 70 shops and houses were burnt. Locals said that this is the first time that Muslims' properties were selectively targeted in villages like Kail, Murgiyaganj, Chaterwa, Rajwant Ka Mandi and Pipri.

"We never witnessed communal tension in our town in the past. Today during curfew relaxation, I took a round of the town and saw many shops, all belonging to Muslims, which were gutted," said Sharafatullah Qasmi.

A locality named Islamabad was particularly hit. "Half the mohalla was burnt down and nearly a dozen houses were gutted," said Qasmi. Since that day, "we were not allowed to venture outside our house," he added.

But Subhash Baghel, Superintendent of Police, City, said: "Curfew has not been imposed, police is strictly enforcing Section 144". District Magistrate Deepak Agarwal also stated that there was no curfew, but people were apprehensive of venturing out due to presence of heavy security forces. "I will personally go there tomorrow. We had to depute heavy force as arson took place in the town," Agarwal said.

Shakeel Ahmed, a shopkeeper, however, said: "If there is no curfew, why they said shops will open for two hours only today. Since everybody wanted to make purchases, the shops ran out of stocks in an hour." Bhadarsa is nearly 15 kilometre from Faizabad on the Allahabad road. Muslims constitute about 60 per cent of the 25,000 population. The town remained peaceful even in 1992 when communal passions were at their peak.

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