MP Reported Over 160 Cases of Communal Violence During COVID, Reveals NCRB Data
Bhopal: Hours after the news of elopement of a dalit girl and a Muslim youth spread in Uday Nagar locality of Dewas district, a group of Right-wing men attacked a boy’s house with stones, vandalised a mosque and chanted communal slurs.
According to police, 20-year-old boy Saifi* eloped with 19-year-old Ritika* on August 26.
After the news of elopement spread in the Uday Nagar locality, Right-wing groups carried out a rally picketing the local police station demanding stern action against the youth and also chanted Muslims “will be cut” and gave calls to damaged mosques.
Hours later, the police booked the Muslim youth under sections of kidnapping and began tracking the couple who were spotted in Surat city of Gujarat three days after the incident.
Seeing the backlash from the other community, police lodged another FIR against over two dozen people, including two named under Sections 147 (rioting), 452 (trespassing) and 427 (mischief causing damage) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
District administration, to de-escalate the situation, carried out a flag march and beefed up the security. The city remains on edge nonetheless.
Around 260 km from Dewas, communal tension gripped Neemuch city on May 17 after a group of Right-wing mobs set a mosque on fire and pelted stones on Muslim localities hours after placing a Hanuman idol in a century-old shrine erected on the Waqf land bringing one community against another.
Police used tear gas and cane to disperse the mob, imposed a curfew on sensitive areas and lodged four FIRs in connection with the incident.
Several purported videos of the incident also show an enraged mob chanting slogans like Jai Shree Ram and Jab Ka*u* K**e Jayenge outside Madni Mosque at Old Court city locality, which was later set on fire, but police promptness saved it.
Considered as ‘Shanti Ka Tapu’, (Island of Peace) Madhya Pradesh has reported 34 communal or religious riots and 128 cases of enmity between the groups in the last two years, which is considered as COVID-19 period, according to the latest National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB).
The report says that the state has witnessed over 2,290 riots, including caste disputes, political, water disputes and others. As many as 1,050 cases of riots were reported in 2021, including 22 communal incidents and 50 cases of enmity between the groups, while in 2020, it reported 1,240 cases of riots, including 12 communal and 78 cases of enmity between the groups.
While in 2018 and 2019, the state reported 74 cases of communal riots and 150 instances of enmity between the groups, says the latest NCRB report, which is higher than the COVID19 years.
The country has reported 378 cases of communal violence. The highest cases were reported from Maharashtra, which registered 100 cases, Jharkhand 77, Bihar 51 and Haryana 40.
According to Jaswinder Singh, state secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist), since Bharatiya Janata Party returned to power after toppling the 15-month short-lived Kamal Nath-led Congress government, the state has been witnessing a spike in the cases of communal incidents, and the role of right-wing groups in fuelling these incidents are widely noticed.
After the BJP returned to power in Madhya Pradesh in March 2020, the state saw a wave of communal riots in the Malwa region - which saw three communal riots in the last week of December 2020 in Ujjain, Indore and Mandsaur - which erupted during a donation rally for a Ram temple in Ayodhya. Since then, the incidents have been on the rise.
A closer look at the clashes reveals a pattern: participants in Hindu religious processions allegedly brandished weapons and chanted anti-Muslim or provocative slogans as they passed through largely Muslim neighbourhoods or mosques. The Muslims allegedly pelted stones in response, leading to communal clashes. Besides, the action taken by the district administration came under criticism for selectively targeting a community.
A day after the news of the riot and stone pelting in Ujjain which was carried out by the BJP’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Home Minister Narottam Mishra said, “Jis ghar se patthar phenke jaye ge usi ghar se patthar nikale jayenge (We will take stones from houses of those who pelt stones).”
The following day, a three-storey building of Muslim man was demolished in Ujjain, and over 13 homes of Muslim men were razed in riot-hit Chandan Khedi village of Indore’s Depalpur locality for encroaching government lands.
A week after the incident, a fact-finding team led by social activist Medha Patkar, Supreme Court advocate Ehtesham Hashmi, socialist leader Rambabu Aggarwal and others from Indore visited Chandan Khedi village on January 6. The seven-page fact-finding report made spine-chilling revelations; 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.
“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 state also saw a steep rise in the cases of attacks on Christian missionaries in the last two years.
Madhya Pradesh hit the international headlines after the BJP government demolished 49 properties of Muslims within two days of the intense communal clash that broke out in Khargone on April 10 during the Ram Navami procession.
In the midst of the Khargone riot, the opposition Congress accused the ruling BJP of “sponsoring” the recent communal violence in various parts of Madhya Pradesh and said houses of the riot accused in Khargone were razed without due legal process.
In a memorandum submitted to the Director General of Police in Bhopal, a delegation led by leader Arun Yadav alleged that the houses of those allegedly involved in violence were being pulled down without following due procedure. The BJP was running a parallel law and order machinery in the state, it claimed.
“The ruling party has been misusing the power and sponsored the communal violence in other districts like Barwani, Ratlam, Raisen, Khargone and others,” the Congress alleged in the memorandum. The Congress also claimed that after the incident, Home Minister Narottam Mishra’s “inflammatory” statements exacerbated the communal tension.
Soon after the Khargone riot, Congress leader Ravi Joshi, the Khargone MLA, alleged, “The Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government is fuelling riots to polarise voters to regain its hold over the region ahead of assembly elections next year by returning to their tried and tested mechanism – riots – to win elections after the BJP failed in almost all fronts in last two decades,” he said.
Jaswinder Singh, who headed the fact-finding team in Khargone, observed, “As the lockdown lifted and people began to question the failures of the government through small movements or protests, the BJP government conspired communal riots to keep people busy and win its lost seats again.”
“The state does not have a history of communal violence. But reports of communal confrontations are happening with a greater frequency. One clash is triggering another clash. The frequency of the skirmishes shows the loss of trust between the two communities, which is the gift of eight years of the NDA government,” added Singh.
The state also reported 23 cases of rioting during protests in the last two years.
Sajid Fareed Shapo, ADG Law and Order, was not available for comment despite repeated attempts.
*Names have been changed to maintain anonymity.
(With PTI inputs)
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