Violence broke out in Junagadh, Gujarat on June 16 after a demolition notice was pasted on the walls of Majewadi Dargah. A day after the notice was pasted, around 500 people gathered around the dargah and blocked the road in protest which escalated police presence in the area as well. Several videos of protesters being flogged surfaced on social media. Some videos show Muslim men being made to stand in a line and being flogged. Even the police lathi charged the crowd and deployed tear gas shells.
Receiving videos and photos from Gujarat’s #Junagadh which show Muslims being publicly flogged for protesting against the demolition of a local Dargah constructed in 1964.
As of last night, 176 Muslims were detained by the local police. pic.twitter.com/O21x3vjpYe
— Tarushi Aswani (@tarushi_aswani) June 17, 2023
More than 170 Muslims were detained by the police. The person seen collapsing at the end of the video is reportedly Zakir Makwana, 36, who was not a part of the protest, but was picked up, flogged and then beaten so brutally that he was unable to stand when his family saw him at local police station, his brother Noor Makwana alleged.
Zakir Makwana, 36, who was not a part of the protest, but was picked up, flogged & then beaten so brutally that he was unable to stand when his family saw him at local police station, his brother Noor Makwana alleged!
— Muslim Spaces (@MuslimSpaces) June 18, 2023
The Superintendent of Police, Junagadh, Ravi Teja, is however, completely unaware of the said flogging incident. He said, if there has been such an incident, the culprits will be held. He further said that at least five police personnel, including the deputy SP, were injured in the incident and one civilian died allegedly due to stone pelting.
Reshma Mohammed Chand, 24, a local from the Majevadi Gate area said she has been traumatised by what happened at the protest and its aftermath. Her father and two brothers who were invested in dispelling other Muslims from protesting and arguing with the Police, were in turn harassed and beaten up by the Police, she alleged, as reported by The Wire. She further alleged that the police raided her home and picked up the male members of her family and even hit her mother. Another local, Ebrahimbhai Sama, told the publication that the police barged into his home, which is a good 1 km from the dargah, around 1 am and accused him of taking part in the protest. Sama alleged that the police ransacked his house. “It is easy to harass Muslims, damage their homes, because no one in the government cares about us,” he told The Wire. Similar stories are of many locals who have alleged that they were meted with similar harassment from the police.
— Tarushi Aswani (@tarushi_aswani) June 18, 2023
Dargahs on target?
On June 14, the Junagadh Municipal Corporation had pasted a notice on the dargah seeking evidence of its ownership and it stated that if the same is not provided within 5 days, it would be demolished. Reportedly, dargahs in Junagadh have been on the Municipal Corporation’s radar for months. This particular Dargah, after being served the notice, submitted relevant documents and even shared the documents with The Wire, and the documents show that the shrine was initially laid in 1938, and was even registered when the region was a part of the Bombay state until 1960 and currently registered under the Gujarat State Waqf Board since 2016.