Bhopal: The Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on Monday, June 7, issued a notice to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government on a PIL filed by Congress Rajya Sabha MP Digvijaya Singh over the alleged communal violence that took place in Indore, Ujjain and Mandsaur in the last week of December 2020. The violence had reportedly broken out during the fund collection rallies for the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Hearing the petition, the division bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Sujoy Paul has given six weeks time to the state government to submit the replies of the questions noted in the
petition. Notices were also issued to the state police and administrative officials posted in Indore, Ujjain and Mandsaur districts.
The next hearing on the petition is likely to take place on July 20.
Between December 25 to 29 last year, three incidents of alleged communal violence broke out in MP. The first incident took place in Ujjain on December 25, 2020, after a bike rally carried out to collect funds for the Ram Temple by BJP’s youth wing, Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha allegedly raised provocative slogans in the Muslim dominated Begum Bagh area, inciting the local residents.
Violence broke out when the residents objected, resulting in stone pelting from both sides.
The following morning, a building of a Muslim family was reportedly razed to the ground by the district authorities and dozens of Muslims, including two women, were booked under the draconian National Security Act.
Similar violence broke out four days after the incident in Indore’s Chandankheri and Mandsaur’s Dorana village, where Muslims comprise the majority population.
Also read: MP Witnesses Wave of Communal Clashes as VHP, BJYM Organise Rallies to Fetch Funds for Ram Temple
The rallies carried out to collect funds for Ram Temple reportedly raised provocative slogans in front of the mosque on that day in both the villages. Not only that, the mosque’s minaret and homes of Muslims men were also allegedly vandalised by the mob in presence of police. In Chandkheri, the home of 13 Muslims were also demolished the following day by the district administration and half dozen were booked under stringent laws.
In a 33-page petition, Digvijaya Singh has mentioned the incidents in detail and also submitted videos of the violence of all three villages which were collected from the victims and eyewitnesses.
In the petition, the petitioner claimed that he had approached the state government, Chief Secretary Iqbal Singh Bais, DGP Vivek Johri and Principal Secretary Home Department in January and February 2021 in connection with the incidents seeking punitive actions against the wrongdoers. But no action has been taken till date which forced him to approach the court.
The petition referred to the apex court’s ruling in the cases of Tehseen Poonawala vs. Union of India (2018) in which the Court had issued directions to the State to take the preventive, remedial and punitive measures in case of communal violence, mob violence or lynching. The court had also issued directions on the need of seeking permission before holding such rallies and issued directions to hold a departmental inquiry against the negligent officials for dereliction of duty in case of communal violence.
Further, the petitioner had submitted that he supported the pious work of construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, however the collection of funds/ donations must be voluntary and the members of minority should not be coerced or threatened to pay a donation for this pious purpose, PTI reported.
The petition also claimed many persons belonging to a minority community were injured in the violence, and their movable and immovable properties damaged.
Singh's lawyer Ravindra Singh Chhabra was quoted in PTI as saying that the petition has cited an important reference by the Supreme Court and has urged the MP HC to issue appropriate directions so that communal harmony and public order are not disrupted during processions taken out by any religious community.
It had also sought departmental inquiry against police and administrative officials, as well as compensation to those affected by the violence.
(With PTI inputs.)