Madhya Pradesh Police claim all is well after Ram Bhakts collecting donations went on a rampage
Ujjain, Mandsuar and Indore are now quiet and things are under control, claim Madhya Pradesh Police. But the disturbing clashes call for independent probes
‘Jan Jagran rallies’ between December 25 to 31 to collect funds for the upcoming Ram Temple at Ayodhya led to communal clashes in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh. Police now claim that the situation is under control, that a policeman has been suspended and people, mostly Muslims, have been booked.
Muslims, aggrieved at police action, claim the violence was started by the rallyists and the violence took place in the presence of the police.
Two mosques were attacked and dozens of homes of Muslims were burnt by the mob carrying saffron flags in three districts of the State -- Ujjain, Mandsaur and Indore. Police have registered 15 First Information Reports (FIR) against 100 people. The police have also invoked the stringent National Security Act (NSA) against 10 residents of Ujjain for allegedly pelting stones on the rally.
The first incident was reported in Ujjain district on December 25 where members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Youth Wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) organised a bike rally to gather funds for Ram Temple.
When the rally was passing through Ujjain’s Muslim dominated Begum Bagh neighbourhood, members of the BJYM allegedly provoked residents by abusing and taunting them. The provocation led to stone pelting and in the ensuing clashes, multiple vehicles were damaged, one person sustained serious injuries and eleven people were injured.
Three FIRs were registered against eight people including a woman on charges of rioting and attempt to murder on the basis of recorded video clips of the incident, said the police.
The following day, the Ujjain collector invoked the stringent National Security Act (NSA) against four Begum Bagh residents Ayaz Mohammad, Wasim Aslam, Shadab Akram and Altu Aslam. The administration also demolished the three-storey building of a resident of Begum Bagh, from where the stones were allegedly pelted, citing encroachment.
The resident of Begum Bagh alleged that the BJYM workers were abusing the locals, rather than simply sloganeering, while crossing the neighbourhood multiple times a day.
“They were provoking the locals by abusing them. Dozens of bikers cross the neighbourhood multiple times a day and every time they hurl abusive comments on the locals and commuters,” said Ujjain Saher-e-Kazi, Khaliqur Rehman.
He further said, “The constant provocation led to the agitation and stones were pelted from both sides and it damaged vehicles of many residents, their houses, as well as a clinic.”
Another incident was reported from Indore’s Chandankheri of Depalpur panchayat where the minaret of a mosque was vandalized and a house was burnt down. An eyewitness of the incident and resident of Chandankheri, Shakir Patel, 43, said, “A mob of around 500 people entered the village with policemen and vandalised the minaret of Eidgah’s mosque, chanting "Ek hi Jhanda ek hi naam, Jai Shree Ram, Jai Shree Ram.”
He claimed that all this happened in the presence of police. “When local residents resisted and began hurling stones, the mob dispersed before returning with reinforcements and attacking a house on the outskirts of the village,” Shakir added.
Saddam Patel whose house was burnt, recalled, “there were 25 people in my house including seven women and eight children. On Tuesday afternoon, a mob of around 1,000 gathered in front of the house and began hurling stones. When we locked ourselves in, they set the house on fire including three tractors, 2 bikes and tons of crops.”
Patel recalled, “On the assurance of the police around 2 pm we opened the door in order to douse the fire, but the mob was there and they attacked and opened fire on us in front of the police.” Indore Police confirmed that five members of Patel’s family were injured and one was shot twice in the leg. The injured were referred to MY Hospital, Indore.
"The incident was unfortunate and a team has been formed to identify the attackers,” said Inspector General of Police Indore, Yogesh Deshmukh.
A DSP has been removed from his charge and a SHO has been suspended for their role in the incident. Justifying police inaction, he argued, “police were outnumbered by the mob and failed to control the situation. As far as the police's involvement in the incident is concerned, we are probing it and if we found any substantial proof or video, we will take strict action."
Nearly a 100-km away from Chandanpur, in Dorana village of Mandsaur district, mobs not only vandalised the minaret of mosque but also around 50 houses in the village. Villagers claimed that that a day before the Jan Jagaran rally, they had petitioned the Superintendent of Police, Mandsaur and sought protection, citing messages allegedly circulating on social media which called “Hindu brothers” to teach “descendants of Aurangzeb” a lesson for allegedly stopping a Hindu rally from passing through Dorana.
On December 25, a rally was stopped from playing loud music outside the mosque in the village by locals during the Friday prayers.
Dorana has 500 odd houses with 82 Muslim families.
Umar Patel, said he was asked by an Inspector of the nearest Police Station to remove flags atop their homes and mosque and remain indoors on the rally day, and assured that the police would maintain peace.
Unsure of police action, the villagers, however, shifted their women to an adjoining village while the men stayed back. The police inspected the village to ensure there were no stones on the terrace or in homes.
But the mob ransacked houses, parked cars, CCTV cameras and even hit the cattle tied outside. They looted jewellery and cash and vandalized the house of Mandaur BJP Minority Cell chief Abdul Hakim, claimed a resident.
An eyewitness of the incident, an English teacher Umar Patel recalled that while the mob went on a rampage in the presence of ASP Amit Verma, dozens of Muslim villagers have been booked for inciting violence,”
When contacted, SP Mandsaur, Sidharth Choudhary said, "Eight FIRs have been registered in connection with the incident. Four cases on complaint of villagers, 2 by organisers of the rally and two people have been booked for fanning rumours through social media.
When asked about the police's inaction despite their presence in the rally, he replied, “During the procession a young boy climbed on the minaret of the mosque but we immediately took him down. Cross FIRs have been registered and the law will take its course.”
Situation is totally under control and five people have been attested so far, he added.
Published: 02 Jan 2021, 7:19 PM