Bhopal: A Muslim family’s house was looted, a toddler was attacked and the eyes of goats were gouged out by the mob who were part of a rally to fetch funds for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on December 29 at the village of Chandan Khedi in Indore. The spine-chilling revelations form part of a seven-page report by a fact-finding team.
The fact-finding team, comprising social activist and Narmada Bachao Andolan convenor Medha Patkar, Supreme Court advocate Ehtesham Hashmi, socialist leader Rambabu Aggarwal and others from Indore, had visited Chandan Khedi village in Depalpur tehsil (about 60 kms from Indore) on January 6. It was the site where a communal clash broke out on December 29 during a fund collection rally for the Ram Temple.
“The participants of the rally were not only carrying swords, rods and sticks, but also carrying kerosene and diesel with them,” the report said.
The villagers had locked themselves in their homes when the rally entered the village. The mob hurled abuse at the locals and shouted provocative slogans but no one retaliated, the report revealed.
The seven-page report released on Thursday brushed aside the Madhya Pradesh police’s claim that the clash broke out over an argument about a video being filmed. “The clash broke out after three youths climbed atop the minaret of the Eidgah, located at the outskirts of the village, and began vandalising it with the swords they were carrying. When locals retaliated, the stone pelting started from both sides,” the report said.
Shockingly, the police, who have only managed to arrest two out of three persons who climbed atop the minaret to vandalise it, have been given bail two days after the incident, the report said.
It added that instead of taking strict action against the organisers of the rally or those who climbed atop the minaret, the police booked 23 residents for rioting, carrying deadly weapons and hurting religious sentiments under sections 147, 148, 298 and 323 of the Indian Penal Code; half a dozen of them are still in jail.
The stone-pelting incident created chaos in the area and the mob disappeared. Minutes later, however, a mob of double its size attacked the homes of Kadir Patel and Akbar Patel on the outskirts of the village.
“Three tractors, one jeep, two bikes, fans, TV, and a water pump owned by Kadir Patel were set on fire by the mob. The mob also attacked a toddler who was trapped in a room after the house was set on fire,” the report said, quoting Mukesh Chouhan, the patwari of the village. “The mob did not spare even animals. They beat a buffalo until its leg was broken and gouged out the eyes of goats,” the report said.
Five of Kadir’s sons were injured in the attack. While one received bullet wounds in his leg, another received a deep cut to his right hand from a sword. Three others were so brutally assaulted that they could be unable to work for a year.
One of Kadir’s sons dialed the fire brigade after the mob set their home on fire. However, the mob blocked the road leading to his house. While all of this was happening, the police became mute spectators, the report said. The mob subsequently looted jewellery and lakhs of rupees in cash and fled the place.
Members of the mob who took part in the rally were from the adjacent villages of Dharmad, Barodiya, Kanodiya, Kanvasa and Rudrahya from Depalpur panchayat.
Questioning the role of the police and the district administration, Patkar said asked why the former allowed a rally of 7,000 people – armed with swords, sticks, rods and even kerosene and diesel – to cross a Muslim-dominated village.
“Police can stop thousands of farmers at the Delhi border but can’t stop rallies which may create communal tension or lead to a riot,” she lamented.
“The police allowed the rally; youths climbed on the minaret in the presence of the police. Kadir Patel’s house was attacked and looted in presence of the police and five of his sons were brutally assaulted in front of the police. But the cops did nothing,” said Eshtesham Hashmi.
“No case has been registered against the organiser of the rally. Two youths who had been arrested for vandalising the minaret were booked on light charges,” he said, adding that it seemed like a planned conspiracy which the police were part of.
On the demolition of 13 Muslim homes the day after the incident, the report said: “Few homes were constructed under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and yet the Indore administration demolished citing it encroachment on Government land without giving any prior information or notice.”
A tube well and a hand pump were the only source of water for dozens of residents. Located on the side of the road, they were also smashed and buried under the new road by the district administration. It led to a water crisis for the locals, the report highlighted.
The report also highlighted a statement made by former BJP MLA Manoj Patel, who people in the village voted for in the recent assembly elections. “A video of Manoj Patel has surfaced which was shot three days before the incident in which he is claiming that not only a few homes but that the administration has planned to trample the entire village.”
The report asks that if the administration had already planned to raze the ‘illegal encroachment’ then why was no one, not even the patwari or sarpanch of the village, informed. The fact-finding team also sought compensation, not only to the victim’s family but also to those whose houses were razed without prior information.
In addition, the team has sought an independent inquiry by a retired high court judge into the incident and urged the state government and governor to take note.