Is Madhya Pradesh steadily turning into a communal hot bed?

A curfew has been imposed in Sendhwa, following communal clashes between two communities, as the state continues reporting communal crimes

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Violent clashes broke out “between groups from different communities” at a garba event in Sendhwa in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday night. It escalated, and according to news reports, “Residents of Moti Baugh resorted to stone pelting around 8:30 P.M and the clashes went on till 12 A.M.” The Town Inspector of Sendhwa (City) Baldev Mujalda, told reporters that “an argument broke out between two groups” and some people in one of the “groups were drunk”. The police have arrested 15 persons, under various charged including “one for attempt to murder”. 

According to Indian Express, Mujalda said that around seven policemen, including him, were injured in the stone pelting. Additional police force of around 70 personnel from seven police stations were deployed to bring the situation under control. The total number of injured persons is said to be around 16, and police have registered “cross FIRs from both the groups while the police filed a suo moto case of attempt to murder against eight unidentified persons and arrested one of them” reported IE adding that “14 others were arrested under Section 151 of CrPC for creating public nuisance.” Section 144 was imposed in the area, and will remain in effect till October 19. 

Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), has written to the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), over attacks on Muslims in Madhya Pradesh since August 2021. CJP’s prayer to the apex minority rights body is to conduct a full-fledged investigation into such incidents and also seek information about such attacks under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. Madhya Pradesh has had a spurt of communal clashes and unrest, especially against the Muslim comunity in the past few weeks. 

Here are just a few incidents that were reported so far in October 2021:

Barwani: Muslims are forced to flee from Borlay village, which according to news reports is dominated by the Hindu Patidar community. It is now a communal hotbed after an old incident of elopement in April. Maktoobmedia reported that houses of Muslims were being attacked several times, following the April elopement of a man named Ameen Khan (21), a resident of Borlay village allegedly with a minor girl from Patidar community. The couple were caught and police booked the young man and three of his accomplices under sections of the Indian Penal Code including 363, 376, and other sections of the POCSO Act. The girl was sent home. However, according to the report, Muslims were targeted, allegedly by the Patidars. The harassment forced them to flee the village. According to the news report, “the boundary wall of the Muslim graveyard was demolished by unknown people. Locks were put on the mosque’s gate prohibiting namaz and azaan. The imam of mosque and his wife were shooed away” and “handcarts of Muslim vendors were also burnt by unknown people late in the night.” 

The administration including the Sub Divisional Magistrate called members of both communities for a peace meeting on April 30 and reportedly “forced” the Muslims “to sign on paper in presence of police and SDM” reported Makrtoob. This reportedly prohibited Azaan using loudspeakers and told them “to recruit imam from another village to perform prayers.” According to Muslim leader Fakhruddin Khan quoted in the news report, “Entire Muslim community would be held accountable if any untoward incident (elopement, etc) took place in the village.” Five months have passed but the restrictions on Muslims continue forcing many to migrate.

Ratlam: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) put up posters outside Garba venues saying “entry of non-Hindus is prohibited” across 56 pandals. The VHP claimed that “non-Hindu men indulge in objectionable activities and thus their entry is being prohibited for Garba”.

Indore: Four youths were arrested for creating “public nuisance” after members of Bajrang Dal caught them outside a Garba organised by the city’s Oxford College on October 10.  

Indore: A Muslim family of eight, including two women, now face an FIR accusing them of multiple crimes, even though it was they who were reportedly attacked by a mob of over 100 people chanting religious slogans. In the Pewday village, Kampel area of Indore city of Madhya Pradesh, this family of blacksmiths is said to be the only Muslim family in the village, and had moved to the area two years ago. The family has claimed to have been threatened before, but did not really pursue the matter due to poverty and lack of support. 

Neemuch: A Dargah (Muslim shrine), named Hazrat Bheda Peer Dargah Sharif, was vandalised allegedly by around two dozen masked men belonging to a Hindutva group. The attackers used explosives, damaging the structure, and also injured its caretaker, Khadim Noor Shah. According to a media report, two devotees were also thrashed and robbed “on suspicion of religious conversion”. Neemuch Police, told the media that “unknown assailants tried to demolish the Bhedabhan shrine, situated in Jawad tehsil, using explosives, and also left a note behind alleging that the shrine was involved in converting Hindus to Islam.”


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