ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Explaining the Violence in Muzaffarpur

Caste, Community and Crime

The violence against Pasmanda Muslims in Azizpur-Bahilwara in Muzaffarpur cannot be understood as an instance of conventional communal strife between Hindus and Muslims. This report from the ground indicates that different layers of caste, community, administrative and patronage networks have played a role in fostering the violence but also in containing it.

On 18 January 2015, violence broke out in Azizpur-Bahilwara village near Saraiya in the district of Muzaffarpur, Bihar. Five people were reportedly killed and almost all the 56 Pasmanda Muslim households were looted and burnt. The immediate provocation was an alleged interfaith love affair: Was it a case of “Love-Jihad” in reverse, or a variant of “honour killing”?

A Hindu (caste of Mallah, fishermen) boy named Bhartendu Sahni, 20, was reportedly in love with a girl from the Pasmanda Muslim community. Both of them were from the same village and studying in the L S College of Muzaffarpur. According to reports, Sahni went missing since 9 January 2015. A report was lodged against a Muslim man named Sadaqat, also known as Vicky Ansari, and his father Wasi Ahmad from the same village, with the Saraiya police. The local police was reported to have not acted on this report of kidnapping despite the fact that this issue did carry a very high degree of communal volatility and sensitivity.

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