Hindu organisations joined hands in Meerut on Wednesday to step up their protest against the alleged conversion and gang-rape of a 20-year-old madarsa teacher, a move that is likely to inflame simmering tensions in the town.
Leaders of the Hindu Jagran Manch, Hindu Mahasabha, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini, among others, formed the Hindu Bahu-Beti Bachao Sangharsh Samiti to demand the arrest of the main accused who is still on the run. The samiti also hinted that it could convene a Hindu Mahapanchayat if the culprits were not arrested soon.
The woman, who taught in a madarsa in Kharkhauda area, had alleged on Sunday that a group of men, including a madarsa teacher and a village headman, had gang raped her and forced her to convert to Islam.
Meerut has been on edge over the incident in a communally sensitive belt in western Uttar Pradesh, which occurred just days after clashes between two communities left three people dead and several injured at Saharanpur, 120 km from the town.
The region has also been witnessing intermittent communal flare-ups for over a year now, the worst being the Muzaffarnagar riots in August-September 2013, where 63 people lost their lives and over 40,000 became homeless.
“We have given the authorities two days to act,” said Anuj Tyagi, city coordinator of the Hindu Jagran Manch. “After that we may convene a Hindu Mahapanchayat to take the issue on to a greater canvas of society.”
BJP leaders, who have extended their support to the samiti, along with activists from Hindu organisations marched silently under the samiti’s flag at Kharkhauda and handed their demands to district officials. The demands include the immediate arrest of the main accused Hafiz Sannaullah, raids in all madarsas where the girl was kept, as well as Rs. 50 lakh compensation and a government job for the woman.
“The officials have assured us they will fulfil our demands,” said VHP organisational secretary Sudarshan Maharaj. “The samiti has decided to take out a procession on Thursday to continue its protest.”
Superintendent of police (Rural) MM Baig said he was hopeful the police would arrest the main accused soon. “We have dispatched four teams to nab him,” he said. Police have already arrested five people in connection with the case.