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MP: Almost a Month After Khargone Riot, Clash Broke out in Neemuch

Kashif Kakvi |
The incident happened after a mob set a mosque on fire, hours after placing a Hanuman idol in a century-old shrine.

Bhopal: Tension prevailed in Madhya Pradesh's Neemuch city after a mob set a mosque on fire hours after placing a Hanuman idol in a century-old shrine erected on the Wakf land on Monday afternoon bringing one community against another, as per the police.

According to police, the Hanuman idol was set up close to the shrine over a fortnight ago by a right-wing mob. It was further placed on the shrine s wall on Monday afternoon, claiming encroachment on government property. The shrine management committee opposed the move, and a heated argument took place between the two groups.

To deescalate the situation, police called members of both the communities to the police control room. Meanwhile, around 7:30 pm, a group of miscreants began hurling stones near Sardar Mohalla, forcing police to use tear gas to disperse the mob.

As the situation deteriorated, additional District Magistrate Neha Meena ordered the imposition of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) Section 144 (prohibiting gathering of five or more people) in the Neemuch city police station limits.

One of the shrine's caretakers, who is also the eyewitness to the incident, Zubain Nisha, said that police were present there when a Hindu mob was placing a lord hanuman idol on the shrine s wall.

"The mob not only placed the idol there but also attacked Muslim colonies in the presence of the police with stones and set a Madni mosque on fire which is 700-meter away from the shrine."

"All the faces who came to install the idol and vandalised the locality were unfamiliar," she added.

Several videos of the incident also show an enraged mob chanting slogans like Jai Shree Ram and Jab K***** K*** Jayenge was rising outside Madni Mosque at Old Court city locality and later allegedly set it on fire.

This is not a standalone incident of targeting the shrine in Neemuch. On October 3, a shrine in Neemuch district, about 450 km from Bhopal, was allegedly vandalised by around two dozen masked men using explosives, and its caretaker, Khadim Noor Shah, and two devotees were thrashed and robbed on suspicion of religious conversion on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday.

Even six months after the incident, no action has been.

Since the BJP returned to power after toppling the Congress government on March 20, 2020, Madhya Pradesh has witnessed a wave of communal riots during festivals. Communal clashes broke out in Khargone on April 10, 2022, during a Ram Navami procession.

A similar incident was reported 60-km away from Khargone in the Sendhwa block of Barwani district. Communal tension also prevailed in Jabalpur, Dhar, Indore, Ujjain, Mandsaur, Burhanpur, etc.

Speaking about the incident, Neemuch's Superintendent of Police, Suraj Kumar, said, "We rushed to the spot as soon as we got information about idol installation near the dargah late afternoon. To stop the situation from escalating, members of the minority community were asked to sit in the control room and raise their complaints instead of assembling at the site."

Even as the situation was controlled in the afternoon, a fire was spotted inside a mosque which lies approximately 700 metres from the dargah.

"Some equipment, like a cooler kept in the mosque, was set on fire," officials said. "Fire engines were rushed in, and the blaze was brought under control," he added.

According to Neemuch Police, four cases have been registered under sections 452, 323, 435, 147, 148, 149 and 295 of the Indian Penal Code. They have rounded up nine people so far, SP Kumar told NewsClick, adding that a police officer suffered a knee injury in the incident and a 23-year-old Younus Khan, a resident of Rangrez Mohalla, reported injured and has been referred to Udaipur.

SP Kumar added that both religious places were restricted for law and order downstream of the situation.

"We are looking at CCTV footage from private and government cameras to recognise the miscreants. So far, we have not received any information about any injuries. We are monitoring the district hospital and all police stations for any report on injuries," SP Kumar said.

He further said that the illegal properties of the accused would be demolished upon identifying the accused, and stringent action like NSA would be imposed against the habitual offenders upon investigation.

Raising questions over the incident, MP's former chief minister Digvijay Singh also appealed for peace on Twitter and questioned the police for failing to control the situation.

Taking a dig over the issue, member of Parliament and AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted, "Sir, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, will your government arrest the accused of desecrating a mosque and dargah? We know bulldozers will be used against innocent Muslims only."

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