Dismayed, shocked and helpless Ramji Kumar Singh and Kamaluddin stood outside after their shops were set ablaze. They tried to help each other set up a temporary makeshift stall to create a livelihood out of the remains. On the intervening night of March 25 and 26, a mob had set ablaze shops belonging to these Hindu and Muslim bookshop owners at Ramesh chowk in Aurangabad city which has recently been ravaged by the communal violence.
Though both the bookshops stood side by side, Kamaluddin’s shop was more famous among the students because of his generous attitude, reportedly. He often gave books on credit, emphasising the importance and necessity of education. In his new makeshift stall, which is essentially a dilapidated table, lie a few competitive examination booklets and posters of Lord Shiva.
“This book stall was my only source of income. I don’t know how I will feed my family now,” Kamaluddin says.
In apprehension of the worst, on March 25, Ram and Kamal, had closed their shops after they saw a procession moving past them. Unable to sleep in the night, the first thing they both did in the morning was, to check if their shops were alright. To their horror, the shops were burnt down.
In another case, on the same day, a Muslim furniture shop that employed helpers from Hindu community was gutted. Mohammad Sartaj, 36, owner of the furniture shop – along with his helper Chandan, have been working day in and out to repair their shop.
“The incident took place on the day of Rama Navami. As I reached the market, I found that my shop was burnt down. The shop had furniture worth Rs 7-8 lakhs,” Sartaj told Newsclick. He also informed that he has been living and working in the area for the past 10 years. “Being a Muslim, had never been a problem.”
The communal violence erupted on March 25 afternoon, when Ram Navami processions comprising hundreds of bike-borne people, who were brandishing swords, forcibly tried to enter Nawadi road locality which has sizeable population from both the Hindu and Muslim community. The local Muslim youth objected to the new route and stopped the procession from entering the area. Following which, the two groups clashed and pelted stones at each other. After some time, the agitated mob went on a rampage, vandalising and torching several shops.
The violence that started in several districts of Bihar on March 25, continued till March 27, leaving several injured. So far, around 200 people have been arrested in connection with the riots.
Photos & Story By Tarique Anwar