Curfew back in place after Madhya Pradesh police record first death in Khargone

Victim  Ibraish Khan’s family alleges police cover up, RTI reveals a bizarre new twist to demolition of Muslim homes in the area 

KhargoneImage: PTI

On April 10, Ibraish Khan, alias Saddam had left his home in Khargone for the evening namaz, and to share iftar with others at the local mosque. He never returned home. His body was found eight days after his brother Iqbal said the family had filed a missing persons report.

“The police did  not even tell us where our child was,” Iqlakh told the media on Monday. “The child was injured, his body was mutilated, there were injuries on his face. He was in police custody,” he says. According to Iqlakh, his brother had stepped out in the Anand Nagar mohalla that evening to share ifrari with those who were observing rozas. He says, “There was stone pelting and he was injured. The police arrested him in that condition. Some people claim they saw him in the police station on April 12.” However, by Sunday/Monday, police came to the family seeking details about Khan, according to Iqlakh, police told him there was a dead body that they should take away. “They [police] called us within five minutes yesterday, after I had threatened to go to the media [days after Khan went missing]. We had gone to the same M Y Hospital a few days ago and were told there wasn’t a body there then.”

This is the first death that Madhya Pradesh police have recorded in the Khargone communal violence. The 28-year-old’s body was identified by his family at Indore’s Maharaja Yeshwantrao Hospital on Monday, reported Hindustan Times and other media. “He was seen by locals who are not willing to testify now,” said Iqlakh. However, according to the police a body was found on April 10, sent to the hospital and later identified as Khan’s after which his family was informed. The family was then taken to officially identify Khan’s body at M Y Hospital, Indore on Monday.

Rohit Kaswani, officiating Khargone superintendent of police, told the media that Khan was found unconscious with head injuries in Khargone’s Anand Nagar area, taken to the district hospital where he succumbed to injuries on April 12. “The body was shifted to M Y Hospital’s morgue in Indore as the (Khargone) district hospital did not have any facility to keep the body,” said Kaswani adding the “body remained unidentified for six days.”

However the victim’s family maintains that this is a case of an alleged “cover-up by the police. Iqlakh said that on April 14, Kotwali Police registered a missing complaint at the instance of his mother, Mumtaz, “My brother was brutally thrashed by rioters and later detained by police. Several people told us they saw my brother in police custody. They said that my brother had suffered injuries on his head and was bleeding.” Iqlakh alleged that on April 13, the family asked the police about his brother but they denied that he was in custody. “On April 14, my mother filed a missing complaint but police did not inform us about his death. On Sunday night, a policeman came to our house to collect information about my brother,” he was quoted by HT.

According to the police statement cited by the media, “as many as 50 people, including the district superintendent of police Siddharth Choudhary, were injured in the clash which erupted after a few people allegedly threw stones at a Ram Navami procession on April 10.” However, alleged that the procession was playing objectionable songs which led to a heated argument between the clashing groups, leading to violence. 

The curfew that was relaxed in the area on Saturday, for a few hours in the morning and evening, is now back in force after the news of Khan’s death spread on Monday. There are now “complete prohibitory orders” reimposed in the area. Around 121 people have been arrested by Khargone police in connection with the Ram Navami violence and its aftermath, the District Public Relations Office told SabrangIndia. However, the minority community has also alleged that “police are only targeting Muslims.”   

On April 13 the Business Standard had reported that Muslims clerics were alleging that the police and state administration were only targeting Muslims with arrests. Qazi-e-Shahar, Bhopal and Syed Mushtaq Ali  submitted a memorandum to Director General of Police (DGP) Sudhir Saxena accusing the administration of demolishing Muslim houses and putting community members in jail “in a clear violation of the law of the land.”

According to the complaint many houses in the Muslim basti that were bulldozed allegedly for being on government land, including one that was, ironically, constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, but Municipality CMO Priyanka Patel accused house owner Hasina B of using the accommodation for commercial purposes.

Bizarre new twist to demolition of Muslim homes in Khargone

On April 16, members of the Muslim community had told news agency PTI, that they will approach the Madhya Pradesh High Court against the “selective” demolition drive launched by the BJP government in the state. The government had started razing the houses of those allegedly involved in the recent violence in Khargone city and a few other places. Bhopal Shahar Qazi Syed Mushtaque Ali Nadwi, a senior Muslim cleric asked why the government was punishing the family members of those who were allegedly involved in the violence, “I have asked the advocates from our community to move the high court against the selective demolition drive going on in the state. We are certainly going to move the high court against this unilateral drive.”

However, now according to RTI activist and politician Saket Gokhale, the District Magistrate Khargone, in an RTI response has claimed “no demolition orders were issued by her office.” According to the DM only “unauthorized encroachments” were demolished, which Gokhale says “is not true” adding that the “homes in Khargone were demolished under the Land Revenue Act, 1959. The DM is the officer in-charge of land revenue matters. If the DM didn’t issue the order, who did?” he asked.



According to Saket Gokhle, while MP’s Home Minister Narottam Mishra had said  homes of alleged “stone pelting accused” were demolished the DM “does a U-turn & says “unauthorized homes” were demolished. But the DM also claims that no official orders were issued by the District Administration.” He has stated that “these demolitions of Muslim homes was a clearly illegal act and that he will be approaching the Madhya Pradesh High Court on this.”

Among those whose homes were demolished allegedly because they were pelting stones was Qasim Sheikh from Gulshan Nagar in Khargone. His hands were amputated after an electrocution, and now his small shop was razed to the ground in the demolition drive, allegedly for pelting stones he cannot even grasp. 



On the same day, another tweet by journalist Meer Faisal, brings to light how a businessman named Arif Sufi’s factory in Bhadli, Khargone was set on fire at around 12 midnight in Khargone. Shockingly, this incident took place despite the heavy police force during curfew.



Media remains vulnerable too

On April 15, multimedia journalist Ghazala Ahmad who reports for digital news platform, ‘The Cognate’ tweeted about her horrible experience in Khargone. She alleged that she was harassed by the PRO JS Khargone (Public Relations Officer Jansampark, Khargone) and the Collector of Khargone for an entire day. While other journalists were allowed to report, she claims that she was deliberately singled out and restricted from reporting. She was refused a Curfew pass and was asked to show a letter from Press India Bureau which is not a mandate to report on any issue. She wonders if this was because of her Muslim identity/hijab and her organisation the cognate which is a news platform for Indian Muslims. 



Following the communal clashes, as many as 121 people were arrested by Khargone police but members of the minority community have alleged that the police are only targeting Muslims. Raising further questions about the due process of law, many houses in the Muslim basti belonging to those accused in the communal clashes were bulldozed allegedly for being on government land. On April 11, there were reports of buses in a garage being set ablaze. “The buses were not in use and were just lying in the garage. Nonetheless, we’re looking into what all damage has been caused,” said PR Assistant Director Pushpendra Vaskale.

As many as 10 houses were set on fire in Khargone Madhya Pradesh, during clashes between members of a Ram Navami procession and locals in Khargone Madhya Pradesh. This year, clashes, stone-pelting, trishul diksha, attacks on students and many other instances of violent communal confrontation were seen across at least five Indian states including Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal, on the occasion of Ramnavami. More than two dozen people were injured in Khargone, including Superintendent of Police (SP) Siddharth Choudhary which resulted in curfew provisions.

State government announces compensation for violence affected

The state government has announced compensation for the families affected in the violence, stated news reports. Rs 4 lakh will be given to the family of the deceased and seriously injured, Rs 2 lakh to the disabled, Rs 59,100 to the partially-disabled and Rs 25,000 for those who received minor injuries, reported HT. The state govt has also announced compensation of Rs 95,100 for “owners of kutcha and pucca houses which were damaged during the violence. These owners will also get a sum of over ₹1 lakh under Integrated Action Plan. An aid of ₹6,000 will be given to the slum dwellers.”


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