1970 Bhiwandi Riots
The 1970 Bhiwandi Riots was an instance of anti-Muslim violence which occurred between 7 and 8 May in the Indian towns of Bhiwandi, Jalgaon and Mahad. There were large amounts of arson and vandalism of Muslim-owned properties. The riots had been pre-planned by Shiv Sena and caused the deaths of over 250 people.
The rioting was one of the worst instances of communal violence since the Partition of India and involved several Hindu nationalist movements such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Jana Sangh and Shiv Sena.
There had been a prolonged period of tension between Hindu nationalist groups such as the RSS, Jana Sangh and Shiv Sena and the Muslim groups Jamaat-i-Islami, the Muslim League and Majlis Tameer-e-Millat. The Rashtriya Utsav Mandal had campaigned for permission to have a procession to celebrate Shiv Jayanti (Shivaji's birthday), which would pass through a Muslim area and pass by an important mosque, permission was given over the protests of Muslim leaders and on 7 May the procession began.
The procession was organised by Shiv Sena, and supporters of the Hindu right arrived armed with lathis and were abusive towards Muslims along the path of the procession with the police taking no action. However once the anti-Muslim violence began the police opened fire several times, but only targeted Muslims. Between 3000 and 4000 people had travelled from villages close to Bhiwandi, and once the procession had started some Muslims threw stones which triggered the violence.
Following the incident the Indian government formed a Commission headed by Justice D. P. Madon. The final report from the commission ran to seven volumes and was highly critical of the police for their failure to prevent the riots, the report was also highly critical of Shiv Sena for their part in the violence.
According to the Madon report of those arrested during the violence 324 were Hindu and 2183 were Muslim. The Madon report was highly critical of the police, stating that their action showed a clear "anti-Muslim bias". According to K. Jaishankar, of those arrested for clearly identifiable crimes during the violence in 1970, 21 were Hindu and 901 were Muslim, a figure disproportionate to the numbers of casualties (which Jaishankar gives as 17 Hindus and 59 Muslims).
Economic costs for the riots in Bhiwandi, according to the Madon and police reports ran to Rs 15,320,163. In Jalgaon 112 Muslim properties and been attacked by arsonists, with 87 of these being razed to the ground. There was looting of 250 properties and another 28 had been damaged. Economic costs for the violence in Jalgaon ran to ₹3,474,722 with the costs to Muslims being ₹3,390,997.
The commission gave a death toll of 164 in Bhiwandi alone, 142 Muslims and 20 Hindus, and in the nearby villages of Khoni and Nagaon the commission stated that there had been 78 deaths, 17 Hindus and 50 Muslims.
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