mandag 8. juni 2020

How lives were destroyed under cover of lockdown in a small Indian town

Under the cover of lockdown, they came. Armed with petrol bombs, acid bombs, gas cylinders, molotov cocktails and explosives, the men, numbering around 100, piled stealthily into small boats to cross over the Ganges river. Reaching their target, the banks of the small town of Telinipara, they climbed ashore. And then, they pounced.

The violent onslaught that began at midday of 12 May was the pinnacle of the worst outbreak of religious violence in India since the riots that ripped through north-east Delhi in February and killed over 50 people. Over three days in this small town in West Bengal, which, like the rest of India was under a strict nationwide coronavirus lockdown that confined everyone to their homes, Hindu attackers burned and decimated Muslim homes and shops and vandalised two mosques and a Muslim shrine. According to multiple accounts given to the Guardian, the perpetrators also exposed themselves to Muslim women and made rape and death threats as they carried out the brutality. In retaliation, local Muslims then began setting fire to Hindu homes. Of the 55 buildings eventually destroyed, around 45 belonged to Muslims.