There are varying reports on what caused the communal riots. But since October 26, 13 people have been reported killed in this communally-sensitive taluka—approximately an eight-hour-drive from Bombay—and adjoining villages. And if official figures are anything to go by, nine of them fell to police bullets while four died in mob violence. However, interviews with local residents indicate that casualty figures are likely to be much higher.
A week after the violence began, Malegaon is now limping back to normalcy. Travelling through the town, you can see the desolate skeletons of gutted shops and homes. The sharp stench of burnt tyres and the presence of police and army battalions is a grim reminder of the devastation. The clashes began as an altercation between the police and members of the Muslim community soon after the Friday namaz on October 26, but turned communal within a matter of hours. In the next few days, the attacks spread from Malegaon to over 16 adjoining villages, as far as 50 km away. Villages including Deola and Kalwan remained tense till as late as October 31, after several homes and shops were torched.