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'Mob Attacked Us': Tensions in Mumbai Society Over Family Bringing Goats for Eid

Tensions flared up in a residential society in Mumbai after a Muslim family brought goats ahead of Eid al-Adha.

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(*Name changed to protect identity)

"They called me a terrorist and threatened to slaughter a pig inside my house," alleged Mohsin Khan, 31, as he struggled to come to terms with what transpired in his housing society in Mumbai on the evening of 27 June.

Residents of JP North Garden City in Mira Road area, Mohsin, his wife Yasmeen, and their 4-year-old child were in for a shock as they returned home at around 6.30 pm on Tuesday. Their car was stopped at the society's main gate by a crowd of approximately 200 people, allegedly over the family bringing home two goats ahead of Eid al-Adha on 29 June.

"When we reached the entrance of our society, two men approached our car and began knocking the window. They asked for my exact address. When I refused, the matter escalated and my wife intervened to stop them. Soon, the crowd started chanting 'Jai Shree Ram' slogans," Mohsin told The Quint.

As tensions escalated, an FIR was filed against 11 people at the Kashimira Police Station under eight sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including unlawful assembly, rioting, assault on a woman, voluntarily causing harm, wrongful restraint, insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace, and criminal intimidation.

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'It Was a Mob Attack': Muslim Family

In her complaint, Yasmeen described the incident as a mob attack.

"When I went to save my husband, a person grabbed my hand and pushed me aside. He hit my chest and tore the dress I was wearing. As the crowd gathered...became more aggressive, I called 112 for police assistance. The crowd started shouting and scaring us by saying that we are terrorists and we shouldn't be allowed to stay here. They harassed us and stopped us from entering the society," she claimed in the FIR accessed by The Quint.

“We have filed an FIR and the case is under investigation. We have not arrested anyone yet,” a police official at the police station told The Quint.

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The Builder Providing Space for Keeping Goats Since 2021

At least 300 Muslim families have been residing in JP North Garden City since 2021. Several members of these families told The Quint that JP Infra, the builder, has been providing space to Muslims to keep goats during Eid al-Adha since the last two years.

The Quint accessed email correspondences between Muslim residents, the society and tower committees, and the builder.

As per an email by the management team, the Muslim residents were provided the space to keep goats in an under construction part of the society as a "stop gap" measure in 2022. The management had also urged representatives of the Muslim community to "arrive at a consensus with other families regarding keeping goats" ahead of Eid-al-Adha in the following year.

  • An email conversation between Muslim residents of the residential society and JP Infra requesting space for keeping goats in July 2022.

    (Photo Courtesy: Special Arrangement)

  • An email conversation between Muslim residents of the residential society requesting space for keeping goats on 20 June 2023.

    (Photo Courtesy: Special Arrangement)

This year too, emails were exchanged between residents and the management.

“First of all, we are thankful to JP for providing space for keeping Goats on occasion of Bakra Eid since last two years. We are expecting your support this year too,” a Muslim resident named Imran Khan wrote to JP Infra in an email on 9 June.

On 12 June, JP Infra responded to the email by saying that this year they don’t have a space allotted to keep the goats.

The residents then made a request to the society committee, which was denied, and they redirected them to the builder. “The society said that they will help speak with the builder to get a space for our goats,” a Muslim resident told The Quint on the condition of anonymity.

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Request Denied for Space To Keep Goats

On 20 June, the Muslim residents again emailed the Estella Tower committee, one of the three tower committees:

“We, the Estella residents are requesting the committee to allocate a space within the society premises to keep our goats, which we will be bringing for the festival of Eid-ul-Adha. Our requirement for such a space is for the duration of 25 June 2023 to 29 June 2023,” the email read.

“We assure you that there will not be any slaughtering done, as this request is just to keep our goats safe and secure for 4 days as mentioned above. We also assure you that we will take care of security, hygiene and cleanliness. We have already approached to the JP management but they have mentioned in their email that there is no place in this year within NGC premises for the same… Allocation of such a place within the society jurisdiction will help us to avoid the hassle of bringing the goats to our respective flats,” the email added.

Mohsin told The Quint that when the request was denied, he and other residents submitted an application to the police that they will keep the goats in their flats and then the sacrifice would be done at the designated slaughterhouses.

As per Akash Yadav, a resident of the society, there is a rule that no livestock is allowed in the complex. "If a Hindu person brings a cow tomorrow and wants to milk it, that is also not permitted," he said.

On 27 June, around 4.30 pm, Mohsin brought the goats to his house. “We kept the goats in our balcony,” he said.

The Quint accessed a 40 second-long CCTV footage from 27 June of Mohsin bringing two goats to his house. This irked some Hindu residents, resulting in a heated dispute, said Mohsin.

The Bombay High Court, in August 2019, banned the slaughter of sheep and goats in flats and homes during Eid festivities.

The court had allowed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to give permission for slaughtering animals in housing societies, but said that the approval should not be granted if the society is located within one kilometre walking distance from a community space for slaughtering, including a religious slaughtering space.

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Called 'Terrorist', Crowd Chanted 'Jai Shree Ram' Slogans

The Quint accessed videos from the night of 27 June in which mobs were seen chanting Hindu religious slogans and cornering Mohsin as well as other Muslim residents of the society.

In one video, a man can be heard asking, "He went to the police station, did the cops arrest him? No. He violated the laws of the society, and the police were powerless to intervene. Are we in Kashmir?"

In the same video, a woman can be heard saying, "This is Hindustan," to which a man responds, "Feels like we are in Pakistan."

In another video, a group of people can be seen making their way to the society's main entrance while shouting "Jai Shree Ram."

Mohsin told The Quint that the mob was chanting Hanuman Chalisa in addition to 'Jai Shree Ram' slogans. He stated that they tried to communalise the incident.

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Hindu Residents Say Incident Was Not Communal

Akash, who said that the core problem was about bringing livestock in the society, added that this was not a communal issue, but rather one of Mohsin's ego. "It was not a Hindu-Muslim conflict. Mohsin abused someone in the crowd, which is why they began chanting Jai Shree Ram," he alleged.

Akash added that Mohsin's attitude had changed after he became the shakha pramukh (chief) of Shiv Sena's local unit in the area. "He became the parmukh (chief) of the shakha, which is why he was egoistic and wanted to project his power," he said.

Mohsin, according to Akash, made bogus claims against people in the FIR. "Nobody attacked his wife or him," he insisted.

It is pertinent to note that The Quint accessed a video in which Mohsin and Yasmeen were surrounded by a crowd, and afterward a man in a black T-shirt can be seen pushing Mohsin away, alleging that he had verbally abused him.

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Hindu Residents Tried To Stop Iftar Party During Ramadan

Mohsin and other Muslim residents of the society alleged that this is not the first time some Hindu residents had tried to prevent them from practicing their religion.

Amir* stated that during the month of Ramadan, Muslim residents submitted a request for hosting an Iftar Party in the apex area, a shared area in the society where festivals of all religions are celebrated. 

"This was more than just a Muslim Iftar. It was an 'open to all' invitation," Amir said.

They asked JP Infra for permission, who directed them to the three tower societies, one of which accepted but two of which neither agreed nor denied their request. JP Infra eventually granted them permission to hold the Iftar celebration.

"While the function was going on, we noticed a lot of police in riot gear and we found out that a complaint had been filed with the police that the event was going on without permission," he said.

Amir stated that the issue had been resolved and that the Iftar party had taken place peacefully. "But, it left people bitter. Prejudice exists between communities at all times. However, it became very blatant after the Ramadan incident," he said.

According to Yasmeen, some Hindu residents in the society did not allow them to hold Taraweeh prayers on the premises. "This has become their habit, that we can't hold any function," she alleged.

The incident has forced Mohsin and Yasmeen to stay alert at all times as they fear for their family's safety. "The mobs are still roaming free in the society. When we are being called Pakistani, terrorist, how can we celebrate Eid happily?" Yasmeen added.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Mumbai   Muslims   Hindu 

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