Preparations began well before the 2014 assembly elections. During one of those campaigning days, a BJP lawmaker Ganga Prakash arrived in Sarore. He sounded confident and triumphant of BJP’s win. Simpleton Gujjars shook when they heard him saying: “I assure RSS that 5% Muslims of Sarore and Vijapur Janglat would be evicted, if BJP comes to power.” What happened here on February 21 was done as per the BJP lawmaker’s script.
But none had an idea that the bloody mayhem would be staged in Sarore on February 22—though the eviction plans had started long back, I mean, soon after BJP swept polls in Jammu province in December 2014.
It was Sunday on February 21 when the Gujjars were about the start their routine affairs. But before they could do that, a cop along with a man (perhaps a RSS foot soldier) stepped inside Sarore. That cop from Brari Brahmana police station came with a warrant. This was unusual. The warrant read that the Gujjar Muslims in Sarore hadn’t appeared in many court hearings in a Himachal Court. Now, that was bizarre—and obviously, aimed at something.
The Gujjars present there inquired about the surprise warrant. But the inquiry miffed the constable. He got infuriated and misbehaved with a woman there. But as the woman’s 26-year-old son Tej Ali objected the cop’s highhandedness, it didn’t go well with him. He complained it to his SHO, Bharat Sharma.
Mind you, this SHO Bharat Sharma was someone who is known “Yes Man” of MLA Ganga Prakash. He was obviously hand in glove with the lawmaker and was hunting for a chance to lung on the innocent Gujjars.
So, here was his chance to pounce on the underprivileged Muslims of Sarore after his cop came rushing to his office with a complaint about them.
Minutes later, the SHO Sharma showed up on the spot with scores of men holding saffron flags. Those men were probably RSS ideologues, who were carrying RSS flags. What they shortly did was unthinkable besides brazen.
From the word go, they went berserk by bulldozing houses. In an ensued chaos, those men at behest of SHO razed 22 Gujjar huts.
Inside those huts, Gujjars from pastures of Akhnoor and RS Pura were living. When the bulldozers were put to action, only the womenfolk and elders were present inside. But it never stopped with the demolition only.
Then those RSS thugs resorted to loot and plunder. They stole the money, which Gujjars traditionally store in trunks. Upon resisting, those thugs ruthlessly beat up women and elders. They also bulldozed five concrete houses, while torching traditional Gujjar abodes.
Watching their homes up in smoke and flames raged the boys. They protested. To counter them, the SHO Sharma fired directly at them, leaving one Yaqub Gujjar dead on spot. Even after killing the boy, the officer continued police aggression on unarmed Gujjars. In the following turmoil, many Gujjars got injured.
It seemed as if the officer was deputed to repeat the 2002 Gujarat in Sarore.
Even after making smouldering rubble of residences besides killing a boy, the SHO wasn’t yet finished. He then dragged all survivors—from a tender toddler to a senile elder—to the police station. They were herded inside the station like animals. The officer was flanked by men holding RSS flags.
Throughout the night that followed, those simpleton Gujjars were beaten in police station. They were released, half dead, the next day at 4pm when the whole of Sarore was put under curfew.
I have to qualms to admit that it was all done under the patronage of Ganga Prakash—who had made commitment to RSS to evict Gujjar population from this belt of Samba.
(Talib Hussain, the narrator, is a Gujjar social activist. Details expressed in this article are author’s own.)