In 2013, horrific communal riots in the Muzaffarnagar district of Western Uttar Pradesh left 62 people killed and over 50,000 people displaced. Clashes between the Hindu and Muslim community had left behind scars so deep that any reconciliation seemed impossible…until now.
According to News 18, recent Mahapanchayats (large meetings of leaders and elders from many villages) between the Jat and Muslim communities have begun the process of forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation, besides settlements on cases of rioting slapped against each other.
The process began soon after the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections when Jats from Kutba village in Muzaffarnagar sought the forgiveness of their former neighbours – mostly Muslims.
After a series of obstacles, both communities, who had lived in harmony for years before the riots, came together in a series of Mahapanchayats across different villages in Western UP. At these meetings, they cleared the air about the rumours and events that led to incidents of violence.
The process of peace and reconciliation was not easy, and despite both sides wanting to forgive each other for “crimes of passion” committed by their respective communities, the scars were still fresh. Village elders from both communities played a key role in pushing this entire peace process.
Both communities finally made real headway at a Mahapanchayat in Bara Basti village on February 4, 2018.
“Our Jat sons had been killed and yet, we went to the Mahapanchayat in Bara Basti. Some groups refer to Bara Basti as ‘Mini-Pakistan’ owing to its Muslim majority. But we did something radical there,” said Sohanvir Balyan, a Jat from Kakra village, to News 18.
Sohanvir took to the stage and asked all the Jats present to chant ‘Allah-O-Akbar!’. Turning to the Muslim community, he asked them to chant ‘Har Har Mahadev!’ (Hail Lord Shiva). Everyone who was present at the community meeting went along with his call.
Vipin Balyan from Kutba village, who had kickstarted the entire process of peace and reconciliation, was truly surprised to witness this event. “We have already resolved the conflicts in Kutba, Kakra and Pur Balyan. Now we will hold similar Mahapanchayats for the Jats and Muslims of Lishar, Fugana, Lakh, Mohammadpur Raisingh and Kawal villages. Jats and Muslims are, once again, united. The days of Baba Tikait (Mahinder Singh Tikait) are back,” he told News 18.