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How court-imposed community service turned six rioters into ‘responsible citizens’

The accused were part of a 350-strong mob that attacked a Hindu marriage party near a mosque at a Muslim-dominated locality in Ranchi. Eight people – including a five-year-old girl – were injured in the incident.

ranchi Updated: Oct 03, 2017 18:33 IST
Bedanti Saran
Bedanti Saran
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
Jharkhand high court,Ranchi,Communal violence
One of the six accused released by the Jharkhand high court on bail helps visitors to RIMS negotiate their way through the hospital campus as part of their community service obligations on Tuesday. (Diwakar Prasad/ HT Photo)

Firoz Alam and five of his accomplices spent a couple of months behind bars for allegedly inciting communal violence in the city’s Bargaiyn locality this June, before finally being granted bail by the high court.

The relief, however, came with a rider. The six were required to spend a specific period of their time performing community services, such as manning the traffic and helping patients at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) out-patient department.

The “punishment” turned out to be a lifesaver for Firoz, who has now sworn off violence.

Co-accused Sahid Alam sang a similar tune of peace and tolerance. “Five days ago, we reported to the hospital superintendent who briefed us on our jobs after verifying our documents. Our tasks include helping patients locate the doctor’s chamber and monitoring those with little knowledge of how a hospital functions,” he said. “Being forced into community service came as a blessing in disguise for us. Here, we get to see human suffering from close quarters and find ourselves relating with it.”

Mojibur Rahman also hailed the high court’s order, adding that community service should be made a precondition for granting bail to anybody. “Tasks like these instill a sense of responsibility towards society in people,” said the accused, who was found managing the traffic at RIMS gate. “We are happy doing this.”

The six took the court directive in all seriousness. The atmosphere in the areas surrounding RIMS was communally charged on Tuesday, with Muslims taking out the Muhurram procession – a day late due to Dussehra – giving rise to huge traffic snarls. Rising up to the occasion, three of them spent the entire day helping traffic personnel in their efforts to keep the vehicles moving.

Three accused persons released by the Jharkhand high court on bail help visitors to RIMS negotiate their way through the hospital out-patient department as part of their community service obligations on Tuesday. (Diwakar Prasad/ HT Photo)

So, how did they end up behind bars in the first place? The six – Imtiyaz Ansari (a businessman), Mojibur Rahman (a central government employee), Shakiruddin, Firoz Alam, Mohammad Aman and Sahid Alam (all students) – allegedly participated in an attack on a Hindu marriage procession in Muslim-dominated Bargaiyn locality on June 3. The incident, which left as many as eight people injured, was allegedly spurred by an objectionable Facebook post shared by the bridegroom’s cousin.

Jharkhand high court judge S Chandrashekhar granted provisional bail to the six on August 4, with specific instructions that they perform three hours’ community service at RIMS on October 3 and November 6. A number of additional conditions were also imposed on them.

When they reported before the RIMS superintendent at 8.30 am on Tuesday, he verified their Aadhaar cards before dividing them in two groups. While three of the accused were deputed at the hospital’s main gate to manage the traffic, the others were asked to maintain order at the OPD hall.

Justice Chandrashekhar, in the bail order, asked the RIMS superintendent to submit a report on the accused’s conduct to the investigating officer in charge of the case. He is required to furnish the same on December 14, the next date of hearing.

“Service to the society by the accused will not only be appreciated by both the communities but also give solace to the injured,” the judge had observed in his order.

According to the two FIRs lodged in the case, around 350 people attacked the wedding party with stones and bamboo sticks while the celebrators were bursting crackers in the vicinity of a local mosque. Later, the wedding party was attacked again at the neighbouring Panchdev Mandir.

First Published: Oct 03, 2017 18:31 IST