Abdul Bari Masoud dwells in detail upon the planned attacks allegedly being perpetrated against Muslims, Christians, Dalits and Adivasis in Madya Pradesh.

Madhya Pradesh is fast emerging as the new Hindutva laboratory in the country. Violent hate crimes and atrocities against Muslims, Christians, Adivasis and Dalits have become a new normal in the state after the BJP grabbed power in March last year by engineering defection in the then ruling Congress government. Unfortunately, the surge in the anti-violence seems to evoke little condemnation and action from the government.

In a week, half a dozen cases of hate incidents have been reported from the state. Two cases have been reported from Indore and one each from Datia, Khandwa, Neemuch and Jhabua.

Four Muslim youths were arrested and sent to jail on  Sunday night (October 10) as their only crime was taking part in a Garba event held in their college in the commercial city of Indore.

In Khandwa town, which has considerable Muslim population, a Muslim youth was thrashed on the college campus allegedly for his religious identity on October 4.  While two dozen unidentified men attacked a dargah in Neemuch in the night between October 2 and 3.

In Datia town, the police on October 10 registered a case against 10 people belonging to the Christian community for allegedly distributing religious books. RSS affiliate Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) threatened to demolish a church in tribal dominated Jhabua, prompting the minority community to appeal to the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind to ensure the safety and security of Christians in the state.

In all the cases, 19 people of the minority community have been booked under different sections, while 12 people have been arrested. In Indore, four Muslim students were arrested for participating in a Garba event.

But in all the cases, 19 people of the minority community have been booked under different sections, while 12 people have been arrested. All this reflects the partisan behaviour of the MP police.

LONE MUSLIM FAMILY ATTACKED

A lone Muslim family of eight was allegedly attacked by a Hindutva mob chanting religious slogans and armed with iron rods Kampa Pewda village in Indore district of Madhya Pradesh on October 8, after the family refused to leave the village dominated by the Hindu community.

The victims are blacksmith by profession who had moved to Indore’s Kampel two years ago and ran an agricultural equipment repairing workshop on the outskirts of the Pewday village. The family had not left the village despite earlier threats, so now they are attacked. The attackers seriously injured five members of the family. The injured have been taken to a hospital in Indore for treatment.

Narrating  details of the incident, the eldest member of the family, Farooque Gheyasuddin (47), claimed that on Saturday evening when they were working in the shop, a mob of around 100-150 men picketed their home and workshop, chanting religious slogans. “Accused Amit Maheshwari, Vikash Singh, Rahul, Kapil Pramar and others began abusing and attacked Shahrukh, Firoz and me with iron rods, saying, ‘Why haven’t you left the village, ignoring our previous threats?’” said Farooque.

Hamare Gaon me Musalman nahi chahiye, gaon khali karo,” (We do not want Muslims in our village,  vacate the village).

On the complaint of Shahrukh Lohar (25), the police have registered a case against 9 people under Sections 323, 294, 506, 427, 147 and 148 of the Indian Penal Code. The police also registered a case after lawyers and social activists put pressure on the police. Sub Inspector Vishwajeet Tomar, the investigating officer in the case, said, “On the complaint of the Muslim family, a case has been registered against 9 people under different sections of the IPC.” However, no arrest has been till filing of this story.

However, the victim’s family has alleged that Indore Police have not lodged proper FIR as per the incident but rather twisted facts to ward off serious sections.

“We were forced to vacate village owing to our identity but police isn’t writing it in the FIR,” alleged Farooque.

Interestingly, on the complaint of one of the accused Vikas Singh, Indore Police has also registered a counter FIR against five members of the Muslim family under Sections 323, 294, 506, 147 and 148 of the IPC for assault and rioting. This case has been registered over a dispute related to money. In the police report, Vikas claims that “two months ago, a Muslim family was given Rs 75,000 to make a tractor trolley, which they have failed to repay. The dispute over money led to violence.”

The family has alleged that the attackers have links with the RSS and they were threatening them for months. When we asked Sub Inspector Tomar about this, he denied having any such information.

GARBA EVENT EXCUSE FOR ATTACK

In Indore, four Muslim students were arrested for participating in a Garba event. RSS affiliates Bajrang Dal and VHP members attacked four Muslim youths at a Garba event organised inside Oxford College.  Alleged attackers accused them of “love jihad”. These students were taken to the Gandhi Nagar police station after being publicly humiliated, after the police had arrested them on charges of “public nuisance” and violating Covid norms. They were sent to Indore Central Jail the next day after a warrant was issued by SDM Parag Jain. While Tiwari was booked only for violating Covid rules.

Two of the four arrested are second-year college students, while Umar Khalid and Syed Saqib were friends who had come to watch the event.

A video of the event has surfaced which shows alleged extremists dragging all four of them by their collars and taking them outside college premises in the presence of Akshay Tiwari.

Superintendent of Police (SP), Indore West, Maheshchand Jain, said the action against the four was “unfair” and that he had recommended against their detention. However, SDM Parag Jain said that the four were booked for creating “public nuisance” based on the police report. While he also added that they were sent to jail as the families failed to present bail bonds. An uncle of one of them alleged that they had neither received any copy of the FIR nor had they been informed where they were.

Habib Noor, a third year B.Com student posted at the entrance to the college programme, said the Bajrang Dal men had picked up Mansoori from the parking lot. “Qadir was trying to tell him that he was a college student, but they kept on dragging him. “When Mansoori called out to Adnan Shah to testify that he studied with him, they caught Adnan as well.”

In a video, Adnan’s uncle Sajid Shah is saying that he came to know about the detention of the students at 11:30 on Sunday. “My nephew, who had gone to attend his college’s Garba programme, was arrested and sent to jail. What are they being punished for?”

In Khandwa, 22-year-old Nawaz Khan was brutally thrashed by an unidentified group inside the college campus for his Muslim identity who had gone to seek admission in the college.

Khan said, “I was coming out of the college after seeing my name in the merit list when an unknown group of youths asked for my name and started attacking me.”

But Nawaz’s troubles did not end here. When he reached the police station to file a complaint, the policemen refused to register a case, stating, “No case is made out; it is a case of petty assault.” The police registered the complaint after Khan approached the Khandwa SP.

“But the police have neither identified the accused nor arrested anyone so far,” he said.

DARGAH VANDALISED

A shrine in Neemuch district was vandalised and at least three people, including the caretaker, were beaten and looted by a group of around 20 Hindutva men. The attack went on for four hours, from 11 pm till 3 am on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday.

The perpetrators left a pamphlet that threatens to kill nearby Muslims if the shrine is rebuilt. It was also claimed that the dargah was involved in converting Hindus to Islam.

“If a Hindu goes to the shrine, we will target Muslims,” reads the pamphlet.

The caretaker of the Bhedabhan Dargah, Noor Shah has been quoted as saying that the Hindutva men tried to blow up the shrine with explosives.

Shah said 20-25 men had attacked in the middle of the night, and tied his hands and legs up, along with those of a couple from Udaipur in Rajasthan, who were visiting the shrine.

Police have registered a complaint against unidentified people under IPC Sections 295 (injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult religion), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 147 (rioting),148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons) and 149 (unlawful assembly with criminal intent).

Last month, the state reported a series of similar cases of atrocities against Muslims after a bangle seller Tasleem Ali was thrashed for selling bangles in a Hindu-dominated area and instead of arresting his attackers, the police filed a case against Ali under molestation  charges and sent him to jail.

Like attacks on Muslims, unprovoked attacks on the Christian community by Hindutva mobs also have become routine in the state, particularly in tribal areas. Last month, VHP men threatened to demolish a  church in Jhabua.

Auxiliary Bishop Paul Muniya of the Protestant Shalom Church in Jhabua, who led a delegation to the District Collector and submitted a memorandum addressed to the President of India, said the onslaught on citizens of minority faith continues in Madhya Pradesh.

The spurt in the attacks on the members of religious minorities, Dalit and tribals is attributed to the ongoing power tussle in the ruling party. It is said the state Home Minister Dr. Narottam Mishra is nurturing the ambition of becoming chief minister.

Former union minister and Member of Parliament Aslam Sher Khan said whatever is happening in the state can be attributed to the competitive politics in the ruling party. Speaking with Radiance, Khan said people in Madhya Pradesh are not communal and both Hindus and Muslims do not want any friction.  These incidents are a calculated and deliberate act in order to please the Modi-Shah duo as one can see that the police did not act against the perpetrators of violence, Khan said who hails from Bhopal and represented the state in Parliament.

To buttress Madhya Pradesh’s secular credentials, Khan said in the state population, tribal communities account for 25 per cent, Dalit 18 per cent and Muslims 10 per cent and they all are in good relations and even Hindus are also on the same page. When being asked why the CM  Shivraj Singh Chouhan has changed his tune after re-assuming power last year, the hero of 1975  Hokey World Cup winner said, “papi pet ka sawal hai” as the CM is under pressure to show his hardcore credentials. 

Vouching this, Jamaat Islami Hind Madhya Pradesh leader Syed Ali said it is an open secret that power tussle is going on between CM Chouhan and Mishra. Talking to Radiance, he said Jamaat central leadership who visited in September prepared a fact-finding report on the attacks on Muslims in the state.  You will mark in all the videos of these hate-incidents, police have been seen as bystander, he said.  Moreover, the police force is also invoking an anti-religious conversion act which is yet to become a law as it is not signed by the Governor and the President of India. 

The very fabric of our secular nation is being stretched by a few who do not respect the Constitution of India, warns President of United Christian Forum, Dr. Michael Williams. Asking to put a stop to this targeted violence, he said such people (Hindutva mobs) are the real anti-nationals and must be dealt with as strictly under law as possible.

Dr Khurram Hameed Khan from Mandsaur told Radiance that the Police have watered down the case by  registering the FIR under light sections of IPC. He says it was a terror case as explosives were used to blast the shrine.

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