Khargone violence: Administration a mute spectator, says CPI-RJD investigating team

The team had met with locals to get facts about the Ram Navami violence

Khargone violenceImage: Kashif Kakvi / The Wire

A report by a joint investigation team of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) had demanded that action be taken against those who carried sharp weapons and guns during Khargone’s Ram Navami yatra and caused the death of local Idris alias Saddam.

CPI State Secretary Jaswinder Singh, Secretary Board member Kailash Limbodia, Indore Secretary C. L. Sarawat, CPI Indore Secretary Rudrapal Yadav and RJD State Secretary Swaroop Nayak  visited affected areas on April 25 to take stock of on-ground situation in wake of communal riots. The team spoke to victims and locals about the alleged conspiracy behind the violence. The team found that the miscreant group carried out a second yatra without permission. They called for a CBI inquiry into the death of Idris who, as per witness account, was brutally throttled by 7-8 miscreants.

“The administration remained a mute spectator,” said the report. Further, they demanded the opening of all religious places, especially mosques that were closed in the month of Ramadan. “Why are they not being opened? If religious places are to be closed, then both sides should have been there. But this has not been done,” wrote the team.

They further demanded that unilateral proceedings be stopped. The government should also fully compensate victims whose houses and shops were demolished without the order of the court or the collector. Further, they called for a criminal case against those who do this illegal action.

What caused the Khargone violence?

According to the team, there have been attempts over the last one year to create tension between the two communities. When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won state elections in four states on March 10, the victory procession in Khargone raised objectionable slogans and created a ruckus outside the mosque. Locals claim they also tried to throw firecrackers in the mosque premises.

In this already tense environment, the Ram Navami yatra began on April 10. Minorities too welcomed the first procession that reached their area. Some locals even arranged for water along the route. This group reached Talab Chowk peacefully. However, from there BJP State Vice-President Shyam Mahajan insisted on taking the procession to the minority settlement. The team said that Mahajan threatened to transfer Additional SP Neeraj Chaurasia.

Later, people were exhorted to gather at Talab Chowk from 2 PM to 5.30 PM. This crowd had sharp weapons and raised provocative and objectionable slogans against the Muslim community. They also played aggressive songs and raised a hue and cry outside the mosque during namaz prayers.

According to Singh, the mobs were headed by Anil Control Wala and Rahul Doodh Dairy Wala, who are affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and their various organizations. Aside from Mahajan, Delhi BJP leader Kapil Mishra was also in Khargone and had made hate-inciting tweets at the time.

“This proves that BJP Sangh Parivar wanted to riot at all cost,” wrote members in their report.

The report said that the administration had received intel of a potential communal clash eight days before the violence. Members said that if appropriate steps had been taken, this riot could have been avoided. Senior police officers also admitted to the team that there was not enough police force at Talab Chowk.

Loss of lives

According to the report the most important aspect in this riot is the death of Idris. On Monday around 1:30P.M, two witnesses said that seven to eight people were beating a person outside the cotton market. When the police arrived, they fled. The SP told the Indian Express that they were shouting, “Hit him more!”

He was declared dead on arriving at the hospital. His short post-mortem, conducted in the night, detailed the cause of death as a “head injury”. Yet the police lodged an Accidental Death Report. The body was sent to Indore the next day after post-mortem. Moreover, the team said that the body had cuts on the head and neck area.

At 11 A.M on April 14, a missing report was filed by Idris’s family. After an hour, the police register a case under murder citing the post-mortem. No information is given to anyone in this regard on April 15 or 16. On the night of 17 April, Idris’s relatives were taken to Indore and handed the body. The report therefore asked, “The question is, when he died on 11th April, why was he hidden till 18th April?”

The police kept this information hidden from the police headquarters for five days until April 15. Then for eight days, the police could not even get the body identified. As soon as it was identified, they also recovered the three accused and the sword in use.

Then, an employee in the cotton market Kamal Salve allegedly died during surgery at a hospital. However, in the police report, the man admitted in the night is shown as alive next morning at 8:40 AM. The report asked, “The same Kamal Salve who had come to get admitted in the night, is also present at 8.40 in the morning? Is this possible? What is the reason for bringing up this second story?”

Impact of the violence

As many as five people, including the Superintendent of Police, were allegedly shot during the incident. The report asked, “Shivam Shukla is injured. Earlier it was said that he was shot, now it is being said that he was stoned. Why is the forensic report of the five people including the SP who were shot, not being made public?”

Instead of addressing the unrest, the Home Minister made further inflammatory statements that houses of the stone pelters would be pelted with stones.

Meanwhile, all the houses and shops demolished by the administration belong to the minority community. Nine shops in the mosque of Talab Chowk were vandalized. Three Hindu shopkeepers were asked to remove their belongings before breaking the shop, while belongings of Muslim shopkeepers were also destroyed along with the shops. All the proceedings were done without notice and or any orders.

“Now neither the district administration nor the collector is taking responsibility for this,” said Singh in the report.

Houses built 30 years ago were turned to dust despite water, electricity bills and house tax reports. One Hasina Fakhru’s house was also built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. Wasim Sheikh’s hut was also broken on the charge of throwing stones although the man had lost both limbs! Seven 70-year-old shops of Ayub Khan were vandalised, despite proper documentation. According to the team, Khan’s shop was demolished because of its location in front of Mahajan’s land. The BJP leader used to repeatedly ask him to sell the shops to him.

Why did all this happen?

According to the report, Khargone and Barwani have 10 vidhan sabha seats. Between 2003 and 2013, BJP won six or seven seats. But in 2018, the BJP lost nine out of 10 assembly seats. The team alleged that the BJP conspired to win the next elections by communal polarisation.

As for the administration, the team said that all proceedings were one-sided.

“The way the minority community has been accused, it seems as if the names have been written in front of the voter list. Altaf was admitted in the hospital, but his name is also in the rioters and his house was also demolished. Azam was in Karnataka from April 8 to April 14 and his house has also been demolished,” said the report.

In light of all this, the team demanded that the Home Minister resign and take moral responsibility for the incident.


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