How RSS keeps the communal pot simmering in BJP-ruled MP

A series of communal incidents in Madhya Pradesh has raised the question about the security of Muslims in the state.

Dhar Violence
Image: Hindustan Times

A series of communal incidents in Madhya Pradesh has raised the question about the security of Muslims in the state. In all these incidents Muslims were the main targets.

According to the findings of a team of All India Secular Forum, more than 40 houses and about the same number of shops owned by Muslims were set on fire. Besides destroying the houses and shops the culprits also looted the belongings in houses and various commodities stored in shops.

The destruction was total. According to the report submitted to the state’s director general of police (DGP) the scene in the burnt houses and shops was such as if it was the handiwork of the army of an enemy country.

The two villages of Dhar district where arson and loot took place are Gandhwani and Pipalya. The incidents of arson and loot took place on October 12. The affected families related the sequence of events.

According to villagers there was a disputed ground which was used by Hindu right wing organisations for religious activities. Some Muslim organisations objected to the misuse of the area. In order to close the controversy the administration, in consultation with people belonging to both the communities, set up a police chowki on the land.

Despite this the RSS/Bajrang Dal installed Ganesh idol and later Durga idol on the disputed land. Representatives of Muslim organisations objected recalling that the decision to set up a police chowki was taken at the meeting of ‘Shanti Samiti’ (peace committee).

It was also pointed out that Ganesh and Durga idols were installed on a government land where police chowki was already set up. It was also violation of the unanimous decision taken at the meeting of shanti samiti.

The local administration ignored the objection and the misuse of the government land. On Muharram day a tazia procession was taken out. The procession stopped near the chowki. Just then a rumour was spread that some Muslims insulted the ‘Havan Kund’ which was still there.

Following this Hindus started attacking those in the tazia procession. The other party retaliated. In the clash, a Hindu young man received serious injuries on his hand. Some Muslims also received injuries. Next, thousands of Hindus belonging to the RSS and affiliated groups attacked Muslims shops and houses. After setting shops on fire in Gandhwani the violent crowd entered Pipalya village and set many houses on fire.

In order to escape the fury of the violent crowd, residents fled their homes. This gave a freehand to the crowd which burnt everything in the houses, took away with TV sets, refrigerators and other valuable things like ornaments, food grains, clothes, beddings, children's, books, furniture, copies of the Quran.

In fact nothing was left behind. Valuable clothes and ornaments put together for the forthcoming marriages of young girls were either looted or destroyed. The most disturbing thing is that all this happened in the presence of police.
The fact-finding team noted that Hindu organisations have adopted a unique method to assemble a crowd at short notice. A siren was installed in a multi-storey building.

That night also siren was sounded thrice which alerted residents of the nearby villages. The team was informed that that night a poet-gathering was on in a nearly village. Hundreds of people were enjoying the Kavi Sammelan.

The moment they heard the siren they rushed to Pipalya and Gandhwani and started attacking Muslim houses and shops. Many women and children who were still under shock told the team members sordid stories of the violent mood of the crowd. The crowd attacked every Muslim they came across. One woman said that it was a war-like situation. Members of the crowd were hurling choicest abuses like, "Why you are here? Go to Pakistan, you traitors!"

Another significant development is that the police officer who did make sincere efforts to control the situation was punished. A team of two BJP MPs was sent to these villages and also to Petlawad where earlier communal violence was let loose. It was on the basis of their report that honest police personnel were punished perhaps because they did not allow situation to take an explosive turn.

A local newspaper (DB Post) carried a special report contributed by NK Singh, former editor of The Hindustan Times and Dainik Bhaskar titled, "This government needs more spine". According to this report, "A series of incidents over the past few weeks have sent alarm signals in administrative circles.

The RSS which describes itself as a social-cultural organisation has come into direct conflict with the police on several occasions. With the RSS winning every single round of the skirmish, the consequences are disastrous for the morale of the force. The Congress Party is alleging that the RSS has become an extra-constitutional authority.

"The RSS, in its role as the moral watchdog, has a larger than life presence in MP as in other BJP ruled states. After all, it is linked by umbilical cord to the Sangh. Those ties are so important for the BJP that it had sacrificed power in the 70s over the issue of ‘dual membership’. In its role as housekeeper, the RSS manages BJP organisation through its full-time workers.

"Hence, although it was unprecedented, but not a huge surprise when nine policemen were booked for attempt to murder, robbery and rioting after they allegedly beat up an RSS pracharak at Baihar in Balaghat district last month. Many of these policemen are now absconding to avoid arrest.

“A pracharak, a full-time worker, is as important as they come in the Sangh parivar. Balaghat case is a bit different. The police seem to have exceeded its brief. There was no serious charge against the pracharak, who had been picked up from the Sangh office, dragged out and beaten up just for posting an offensive comment on What’s App.

"But what happened at Petlawad in Jhabua district was ominous. There was a communal flare up in the small town on the night of Muharram. The police registered cases against 400 persons and arrested several of them, including some with RSS background. The RSS has alleged that the action was one-sided and exerted pressure on the administration. The administration responded by suspending and transferring police officers involved in the action.

"It is not the first time that this has happened. Earlier, Anuradha Shankar, one of the most intrepid IPS officers in the state, was transferred after the police had beaten up Bajrang Dal hooligans at Dhar. In July this year the SP of Raisen was transferred because the Sangh was annoyed over "excessive" use of force during a communal flare up."

The above quotes from the fact-finding report establish that the communal situation is alarming in the state. In view of this the team demanded that those who are guilty of committing acts of communal violence should be punished. The team led by LS Herdenia also demanded 100 per cent compensation to the victims of organised attack.

It was pointed out that besides houses and shops the crowd also destroyed vehicles, tractors and two-wheelers owned by Muslims. The team also demanded that the affected Muslims should be assured adequate security.



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