Syed Ali Mujtaba
So far, five Muslims have been arrested for allegedly causing heavy floods in the Hindu majority areas of Silchar by waging ‘Flood Jihad’, a brand new concept invented by Hindu right to target Muslims. The ‘accused’ were arrested on July 3 and were let off after keeping them behind bars for 15 days for want of evidence.
The Muslims who had to undergo the 15-day ordeal are those living in Bethukandi, a predominantly Muslim area in Silchar. But since the police failed to produce any proof against them to link with anything called ‘Flood Jihad’ they had no option but to release them.
Assam witnessed two waves of floods, first in May and then in June this year. The reason was rains this time around arrived early and were much heavier than usual. The rains brought in their wake death and mayhem which is an annual affair every year for this part of the country.
However, there was a new twist to the Assam floods this year. It’s because social media this year went hammer and tongs blaming Muslims for the floods with the theory of ‘Flood Jihad’.
Social media posts coined the term ‘Flood Jihad’ and circulated in droves. The posts were shared thousands of times and then repeated by some local media outlets round the clock. The message was that floods were the handiwork of a group of Muslims who deliberately inundated the Hindu-majority city of Silchar.
According to Google Trends, searches for “flood jihad” hit a five-year peak in July, fed by the social media frenzy around this claim that Muslims were responsible for damaging embankments meant to protect against flooding.
The truth about this year’s flood in the state is poor maintenance of embankments that is central to flood management. The state has more than 4,000 km (2,500 miles) of embankments; many of them have become old and prone to damage. A lot of breaches do take place due to lack of repair and maintenance of the embankments. Sometimes there are instances where people deliberately breached the embankment so that the water could move out, and would not flood their area.
Silchar Superintendent of police, Ramandeep Kaur, rubbished the claim of ‘Flood Jihad’. She told the media that some arrests were made due to social media posts, but all such people were released as nothing wrong was found against them.
Locals feel that the problem of floods in Assam requires a far more mature response from the double-engine government in the state and the center.
However, neither the BJP-ruled state government nor the Central government is bothered to find any lasting solution for controlling the floods in Assam.
Theories like “flood jihad” is floated only to divert people’s attention from the long-standing problem and this is an easy route taken to escape from the problem that’s festering for years.
Syed Ali Mujtaba can be contacted at email@example.com. The views expressed here are auhor’s personal. Courtesy Clarion India