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MP: Homes of 3 Muslims Razed After Driving Rift Takes Communal Turn

A widely-circulated WhatsApp among nearby villages claimed that Muslims had attacked the Garba event, and a mob of over thousand men reached the village.

Bhopal: A rift between 14-year-old Salman Khan and 32-year-old Shivlal Patidar over a speeding bike took a communal turn in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur on October 2, the seventh day of Navratri. Following this, the police razed the houses of three Muslim men booked in the dispute that took place near a Garba event.

The incident occurred at Surjani village, which falls under the Sitamau police station in Mandsaur district. The village has over 100 homes, of which 29 belong to Muslims.

Following the incident, police booked 19 Muslims and apprehended seven, including the minor Salman, on allegations of pelting stones at the Garba. Within 12 hours after lodging the FIR, the district administration put on “building permission” notices outside the houses of three of the accused. The following day, all three houses were razed to the ground. 

Moreover, a truck owned by a Muslim was set on fire by the mob at 10:45 pm on the day of the incident. But truck owner Ansar Khan did not file a complaint over the arson as the villagers were threatened with dire consequences if they approached the police station to register FIRs, claimed locals.

Speaking to Newsclick, Sandeep Shiv, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, said, “Houses of three accused, including Salman’s father Aklu Pathan, Sohail’s father Jafar Khan, and Rais Khan were constructed without building permission from the panchayat department. A notice was put up on October 3 and the houses were razed to the ground the following day.”

“Adequate time was given to the accused to present their side,” he added.

What Happened in the Incident

On October 2, after a rift over rash driving, Shivlal complained to Salman’s grandfather Hafiz Khan (62), who was seated close to the Garba pandal erected alongside the Ambe Mata temple of the village. Seeing this, Salman who was standing metres away with his teenage friends Sohail and Rais, misbehaved with Shivlal for complaining. 

Salman’s 62-year-old grandfather scolded and slapped him in front of the village. But it did not resolve the issue; it was still simmering.

Sensing a brawl, Shivlal’s friend Mahesh and others, who were standing near the Garba pandal, rushed to him armed with sticks and rods. Salman and his teenage friends also gathered there. After a heated argument between the two groups, the village’s busiest locality turned into a battlefield. Both groups also pelted stones at each other, leading to some being injured, said eyewitnesses while speaking to NewsClick.

Hafiz Khan further pointed out that within minutes of the brawl starting, boys from both communities assembled, and a fight broke out. It soon intensified with stone pelting from both sides. During this fight, Shivlal’s friend Mahesh sustained injuries on his head after being hit by a belt buckle. 

After locals alarmed the police control room around 8 pm, cops reached the spot. Dinesh Parajapti, inspector at the Sitamau Police station, detained three Muslims from their homes and took them to the police station after hearing about the incident from Shivlal and other villagers. Four were arrested in a late-night search operation. A team of over 200 cops was also deployed at the village to prevent further clashes.

“There were only members of the Patidar community when police reached the spot. The other side had fled the scene. We arrested three people on the spot, and four others, including Salman, were arrested a day later,” said Inspector Parajapti over the phone. 

The news of the scuffle spread like wildfire. A WhatsApp message that was being circulated on the social media groups of nearby villages claimed that Muslims had attacked the Garba pandal at Surjani village, assaulting women and damaging the idols. Within an hour, a mob of over 2,000 men reached the village, but the police stopped them from entering the Muslim locality called Pathan Mohalla.

Salman’s grandfather Hafiz Khan alleged that one of his relatives, Ansar Khan’s truck, which was parked on the main road of the village close to a petrol pump, was set on fire at around 11 pm on October 2. The CCTV footage of the incident possessed by NewsClick shows that the truck parked on the main road was set ablaze by unidentified persons around 11 pm.

“Under police security, the mob tried to provoke Muslims by setting the truck on fire and hurling stones to the Muslim localities. But Muslims did not retaliate,” said a local resident while requesting anonymity.

“When we tried to lodge an FIR, police officers threatened to book and arrest along with Salam and others if anyone dared to lodge a complaint,” he added.

On the complaint of Shivlal Patidar, police booked Salam, his father and 17 others under eight sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including the charge of attempt to murder.

The chain of events described by Patidar in the FIR differs from the ones described by eyewitnesses and Salman’s grandfather. 

In the FIR registered at 2 am on October 3, Shivlal Patidar alleged that while he was watching over the Garba pandal on October 1, Salman crossed him by over-speeding, and subsequently, he complained about it to Salman’s father Aklu Khan (38).

The FIR further said, a day later, at around 9 pm on October 2, while he was standing near the garba pandal along with his friends, Mahesh Bansilal Patidar, Shyamdas Bairagi, Salman Khan along with his father Aklu Khan, grandfather Hafiz Khan, and Sohail Khan along with his father Jafar Khan, Raes Khan and 13 others came near the Garba venue. They were allegedly armed with sticks and stones and began hurling abuses at him and his group.

Shivlal Patidar, in his FIR, claimed that while he and his friends tried to stop them, Aklu Khan hit him with a stone, picked up an iron stick lying nearby, and hit Mahesh on his head. As chaos ensued, the group began pelting stones on the Garba pandal in which two other people sustained injuries, including a villager named Mangubai.

Countering Shivlal’s allegation in the FIR, Hafiz Khan claimed that it was on October 2 around 6:30 pm, while he was seated a few feet away from the Garba pandal, Shivlal approached him to complain about Salman’s rash driving; the clash broke out afterwards.

“Salman, who was standing nearby while looking at Shivlal complaining, tried to get aggressive with Shivlal when I gave him two to three tight slaps. It was at that time that Salman’s friends, who were standing nearby, also tried to get aggressive with Shivlal. Seeing this Shivlal’s friends who were standing near the pandal came armed with sticks and a tussle broke out between the two groups,” said Hafiz Khan.

Houses Bulldozed

Within 12 hours after the FIR was lodged, building permission notices were pasted outside the houses of the three accused. However, while Aklu Khan and Jafar Khan’s houses were razed to the ground, Raes Khan’s mother, Shamabi Rahman alleged that the authorities demolished her house instead of her son's.

“My house along with two separate houses build by my two sons have the same entry gate. They put up a notice in the evening on the main gate to demolish the Raes’s house and the next day came and demolished by house instead of the two-room house that belonged to Raes. My son had moved out of the house and set up his own about 20 years ago,” claimed Shamabi.


When asked about it, SDM Sandeep Shiv said, “The demolition was done as per the findings of the panchayat department as they are the authorities to give permissions. If there is any family who has any complaint, they can approach us.”

Muslims of the village fear that the district administration may demolish other houses. “On duty police officers are murmuring that the houses of all 19 accused will be demolished. There are 29 Muslims homes in the village; if the administration demolishes the remaining 16, nothing will be left in the village for us,” a local told NewsClick requesting anonymity. 

“We want to approach senior officials to stop our oppression but fearing that police may arrest us,” he said, last month a 14-year-old Muslim girl was raped by a man named Sagar Suryawanshi in Suwasra locality of Mandsaur district, but despite repeated appeals, the police neither took strict action nor bulldozed his home.

Anurag Sujaniya, Mandaur Superintendent of Police, said in a video clip, “The illegal construction of more than 4,500 sq ft worth more than Rs 4 crore, belonging to three of the accused, was demolished on Tuesday with the help of the revenue department.”

On the question of complaints from Muslims, he said, “We have not received any complaints from the other side and, if approached, action will be taken as per the evidence."

Despite repeated attempts, Mandsaur district collector Gautam Singh was unavailable for comment.

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