Constituting the Fact-finding Team
In the month of December, the newspapers reported that there were a series of communal riots in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh. Some social scientists pointed out that riots are more likely to occur closer to election time. The Shivraj Singh Chouhan led BJP Government had been installed about nine months ago on 23rd March 2020 after 22 Congress MLAs resigned from the Party reducing the then ruling Congress Party Government led by Kamal Nath to a minority. Elections to these 22 Assembly Constituencies were held on 3rd November 2020 along with 6 other Assembly by-elections. It was a bit surprising that communal riots took place after the elections. Narottam Mishra, the Home Minister of the state reportedly issued a statement that stones will be removed from the homes from which stones are pelted (Sabrangindia, 2020) (Tanwar, 2020). Such a statement is not only illegal, but also highly objectionable, coming from the Home Minister of the state and one of the aspirants to the post of Chief Minister. To prove that he was equally aggressive and intolerant to any defensive action taken by the minorities, Chief Minister Chouhan announced that he would bring in a stringent law to punish the stone pelters. An independent fact-finding team was formed by the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) to investigate the incidents of Hindu-Muslim and Hindu-Christian communal clashes, which occurred in Madhya Pradesh in the month of December 2020.
The team consisted of:
- Vibhuti Narain Rai, Former DG Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
- Irfan Engineer, Centre of Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai,
- Harnam Singh, Senior Journalist, Mandsaur,
- Chittaroopa Palit, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Khandwa,
- Sarika Shrivastava, State Secretary, National Federation of Indian Women, Indore,
- Rakesh Dixit, Senior Journalist, Bhopal,
- Advocate Shanno Shagufta Khan, Human Rights Law Network, Indore,
- Nidah Kaiser, Researcher, SOAS, University of London, and
- Vineet Tiwari, National Secretary, Progressive Writers Association, Indore.
Between 28th and 30th January 2021, the team visited Chandankhedi village in Gautampura District, Begum Bagh colony in Ujjain, Dorana village in Mandsaur and Alirajpur in Madhya Pradesh. These places were reported to be rife with communal tension, with aggressive posturing by the majority community in December 2020. The team met with victims of the communal violence, eyewitnesses, religious leaders, village heads, police personnel, journalists, and activists and took their testimonies. In view of the sensitive nature of the information provided, the names of all those who were interviewed and gave information and views are not being disclosed, unless they are already in the public domain.
Chapter 1: Background
Malwa region, which is a strong saffron bastion since early Jan Sangh days, has been a major contributor to the BJP’s ride to power in MP since 2003. Even earlier, when Janata Party (1977) and the BJP (1990) had come to power, the region overwhelmingly sided with the ruling party.
The BJP had won 56 out of total 66 seats in Malwa-Nimar region in the 230 strong assembly in the 2013 elections and was hoping to repeat the performance in 2018 polls. But the Congress upset the saffron party by winning 35 seats. The BJP was reduced to a mere 28 seats and independent candidates won three seats.
The setback for the BJP in the 2018 assembly election was primarily due to the party’s inability to win over angry farmers with its time-tested strategy of polarising voters along communal lines. In June 2017, Madhya Pradesh was in turmoil due to farmers’ agitation with Malwa being the epicentre. The 10-day stir took a turn for the worse with five farmers being gunned down in a police firing in Mandsaur on June 5, 2017. The firing and consequent intense political squabbling changed the narrative from Hindutva- pride to farmers’ anguish. It amply reflected in the assembly elections held the next year. The Congress’s promise for loan waiver proved more appealing to the aggrieved farmers than BJP’s Hindutva. The Congress returned to power after 15 years. However, the ruling party’s wafer-thin majority kept the BJP tantalisingly hopeful of recapturing power. The party got that opportunity sooner than later with disgruntled Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia leading a revolt along with his loyalist MLAs against the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government in March last year. The revolt paved the way for Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s ascension to the chief minister’s post for a fourth time.
By the time the C.M. Mr. Chouhan took oath for the office, corona virus had already begun to spread in the state. However, the growing menace of the pandemic did not deter the chief minister from mobilising the party cadres for by elections that had become due owing the resignations of rebel Congress MLAs who later joined the BJP. Presiding over the stolen mandate that was facilitated by Scindia’s treachery, Shivraj Singh Chouhan quickly shed his moderate Hindutva image that had characterised his earlier three terms. His language towards Congress opponents turned more offensive, and even abusive. His strategies to mobilize saffron cadres acquired brazen communal overtones. He seemed to have become acutely conscious of the reality that unless he pandered to the baser Hindutva instincts, the Hindutva cadres may not be easily persuaded to campaign for the Congress rebels who were to fight on the BJP tickets in the by-elections on the very seats the party had lost barely one and half years ago.
The massive media demonization of Tablighi Jamaat for having congregated in Hazrat Nizamuddin in April 2020 and their subsequent scapegoating for the spread of Covid-19 came in handy for the Chief Minister to advance his communal agenda. Without any empirical data or any other basis, Chouhan blamed Tablighi Jamaat members, who had returned from the congregation, for spreading the pandemic in Madhya Pradesh. Other BJP leaders wasted no time in joining the Chief Minister in the vicious propaganda against the Muslims. The propaganda was particularly widespread in the Malwa region which accounted for the maximum number of returnees from Hazrat Nizamuddin. An incident of stone-pelting was reported in a predominantly Muslim slum of Indore when a team of medical staff visited the area. The same was hyped up in the media to denigrate the entire community as super spreaders of the corona virus. The government ordered detention of three Muslim youths under the NSA on the charge of stone-pelting. Suspicion against Muslims intensified.
Assisted by negative media coverage targeting the Muslim community, the BJP and its ideological affiliates succeeded in deepening hatred against Muslims. Having thus set-in motion Muslim-bashing, the saffron activists felt more emboldened as campaigning for the forthcoming by elections gathered momentum amid the growing menace of the pandemic. They organised religious functions, held public gatherings, took out Kalash Yatras and launched a door-to-door campaign, contemptuously defying the protocols for the necessary precautions during the pandemic.
The state government did not object to this flagrant violation of the covid protocol in the gatherings which were mainly organised by the local BJP leadership. The local administration and police treated the BJP functions with kid-gloves while coming down heavily on common people for ignoring corona appropriate behaviour.
It was during the campaign for the by-elections that the saffron activists realised the futility of seeking administrative permission for their public mobilisations. They cocked a snook at the administration during the election campaign with as much impunity as they did while taking out bike rallies in the name of donation collection for Ram temple in December. Significantly, none of the rallies that resulted in communal violence against Muslims in the three districts of Malwa, had formal police permission.
The by-elections were to be held in seven assembly constituencies spread across Malwa and Nimar regions. They included Sanwer, Hatpipliya, Badnawar, Suwasra, Mandhata and Nepanagar. The BJP and the RSS had geared up their entire force in the region to ensure victory in the bye-polls. At no stage of campaigning did the volunteers face any restrictions on account of the corona protocol. Since the very survival of the government was at stake in the by-elections, the campaigners at the grassroots had all kinds of incentives from the ruling party to keep the momentum going.
A no-holds-barred campaign with protection from the government paid off in favour of the BJP. The saffron party won six out of seven seats. Overall, the BJP won 19 out of 28 seats in the by-elections. The anti-Muslim platform was a very important plank for the BJP to win the by-elections in the Malwa region.
Having regained the lost fortress of Malwa with massive deployment of saffron cadres, the ruling BJP was keen to ensure that its winning strategy –essentially of terrorising Muslims – is not derailed by any secular narrative such as the farmers’ agitation having learnt a salutary lesson from the 2018 assembly elections wherein BJP’s divisive politics were overwhelmed by farmers’ anger.
Another context to the communal violence in the three different places were the impending election of local bodies in the coming months, and the farmers’ agitation in the country which threatened to afflict Madhya Pradesh again, as in 2017. Those who helped Chouhan secure his government now wanted the Chief Minister to help them win local elections as a quid-pro-quo.
It is not surprising that groups owing allegiance to Hindu nationalist organisations chose predominantly Muslim areas in districts of the Malwa region for rallies to solicit donations for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Any reasonable person would know that the passage of such rallies through minority dominated areas was not to solicit donations but to provoke members of targeted community to react to their abusive slogans which then could be used as an excuse to trigger communal violence. This is what seems to have happened in the last week of December 2020.
The VHP-sponsored campaign for donation collection in the name of the Ram temple in Ayodhya was launched simultaneously across Madhya Pradesh in December. In the Malwa region however, the motorbike rallies with saffron flag aflutter turned violent targeting the Muslims, leaving behind a horrifying trail of traumatised victims, damaged homes, loot and pillage and desecrated mosques in their wake.
Why did Malwa’s three Muslim areas bear the brunt of the communal frenzy? The answer needs to be sought in electoral politics. Given the results of the assembly by-elections that were held barely one and half months before the three communal incidents, it is tempting to conclude that the saffron aggression was a kind of celebration of the ruling BJP’s political reassertion over the region the party had significantly lost in the 2018 assembly elections.
Chapter 2: Begum Bagh, Ujjain
The fact-finding team visited Begum Bagh in Ujjain on 28th January 2021. Begum Bagh colony is a Muslim-majority area, close to Mahakaleshwar Mandir in the Ujjain district. As per the 2011 census, the population of Ujjain comprises 77.5% of Hindus and 18.88% of Muslims, with the remaining 3.7% of people belonging to other communities. Every year, thousands of Hindu pilgrims pass through Begum Bagh on their way to Mahakaleshwar Temple. Never in the past have the pilgrims faced any trouble from the area, nor have they complained about the residents’ behaviour. On the contrary, as a gesture of harmony, the Mahakali procession is showered with flowers from the rooftops of the Muslim homes. Muslims from the area remain present during the religious festivities and sit in during the recitation of Hanuman Chalisa. During the festival of Mahashivratri, mosques and ‘jamaat-khanas’ (Muslim halls for assembly) of the area open their doors and offer hospitality to about sixty thousand Hindu pilgrims.
On Friday, 25th December 2020, the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) known as the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the Bajrang Dal and the Samagra Hindu Samaj were among the Hindu organisations that conducted a bike rally in Ujjain. The rally, organised by the different Hindu groups, set out from different parts of the city, including Nana Kheda bus stand, Agar Naka, Nagziri and Bherunaka. The route, taken by a group of about 150-200 rallyists, which started at 11.00 am, passed through Begum Bagh on its last leg to the Bharat Mata Mandir. The rally was planned as a prelude to the nationwide fund-raising campaign, due to begin from 14th January to seek donations for the construction of the Ram Mandir on the site of the demolished Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. The Ramnidhi Sangrahan rally was supposedly conducted to create public awareness. The groups were meant to meet at Bharat Mata Mandir to plan and discuss the process of the donation drive. Hordes of men, carrying saffron flags, drums and some armed with lathis, rode their bikes through the city chanting and sloganeering.
The rally was taken through the Muslim-majority area between 4:30pm and 6:00pm. The bikers passed through Begum Bagh thrice within a span of an hour raising objectionable slogans, communal jeers, and name-calling. As reported by the residents, these included,
(a) “Bacchabaccha Ram ka, chachiyonkekaam ka” – a slogan that has sexual connotations, loosely translating to “All of Rama’s male children are useful for Muslim aunties”;
(b) “Hindustan meinrehnahogatoh Jai Shree Ram kehnahoga” which means “If you want to reside in India, you have to chant ‘Hail Lord Rama’.
(c) “Chacha bole Jai Shree Ram, chachi bole Jai Shree Ram, Mullah bole Jai Shree Ram…” translating to, “Muslim uncles, aunties and priests all chant ‘Hail Lord Rama.’”;
(d) “Baccha bacha Ram ka, Mussalmaan haram ka” translating to, “Hindus are children of Ram, Muslims are illegitimate offspring”; and
(e) “Aurangzebkiaulaado, sudharjao, deshhumarahai” translating to, “Children of [Mughal Emperor] Aurangzeb, reform yourselves. The country belongs to us [sloganeers]”.
Passing thrice through a Muslim majority locality, chanting abusive and insulting slogans was obviously meant to provoke a reaction. The matter was brought to the attention of the armed policemen present at the site but to no avail. The bikers passed through Begum Bagh twice, without any reaction to their communal slogans. However, during the third round an argument ensued between the bikers and the locals, who objected to the repeated parades through their residential area. The arguments led to name-calling, abusing, and finally stone pelting on both sides. The police tried to keep the rally moving, to prevent crowding. While the police drove off men on the streets, a few women, and children, threw stones at the bikers from the balconies and rooftops. This escalated into a clash between the bikers and the residents. The clash occurred at 5:40pm and lasted for 20 minutes. While some men dropped their bikes and ran, others engaged in stone pelting and began damaging vehicles parked on the street. Video footage of the incident is available as evidence of the hurling of stones between the two sides on the ground as well as from the homes onto the street, and from the street up to the homes. Two women and a few children can be seen hurling stones from the rooftop; saffron clad men can be seen using stones and lathis to break cars and rickshaws. Our informant from the Majlis-e-ittehad-ul Ummah informed us that one youth from the rally was injured.
The residents reported that eight vehicles were severely damaged, with broken windshields, windows, and dented bumpers, and bonnets. These included three-four auto-rickshaws, three cars and two bikes. Several homes had their windows broken, including a local clinic. Eighteen members from the rally belonging to the BJYM and RSS were reportedly injured in the clash.
The State’s Response
During the incident, armed policemen deployed in the area tried to calm the situation and scatter the crowd. The video footage during the clash shows policemen walking through Begum Bagh-Mahakal Temple road alongside men who are seen swinging lathis on vehicles and hurling stones into Muslim houses. After the clash ensued, the state administration imposed Section 144 in Mahakal, Kharakua, Jiwajiganj and Kotwali police station areas which prohibited public gatherings of more than four people.
On the eve of 25th December, Anil Firozia, the BJP Member of Parliament from Ujjain and Paras Jain, BJP MLA along with others staged a ‘dharna’ at the Mahakal Police Station. The MP and his supporters demanded stringent state action against the residents of Begum Bagh within 24 hours. That night, the police filed a First Information Report (FIRs) against 24 people. Nineteen Muslims were arrested, five were booked under the draconian National Security Act: Ayaz Mohammad (21), Wasim Aslam (26), Shadab Akram (22), Altu Aslam (53) and Yusuf Mohammed Shafi (36). Fourteen others were charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 307 (attempt to murder), 147 (rioting), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others) and 427 (mischief causing damage). One rooftop was identified in the videos as the site of stone pelting, from where two women and children were seen pelting stones. From among them, a 42-year-old woman named Yasmeen Bi was arrested. The arrests have been made based on evidence obtained from video clips and information from local informers. As of 28th January, when the team visited Begum Bagh, none of the 19 people had been granted bail. An FIR has also been registered by the locals of Begum Bagh, however, no arrests have been made so far.
The day after the clash, 26th December, the Ujjain Municipal Corporation along with the District Collector Asheesh Singh and Superintendent of the police Satyendra Kumar Shukla came to Begum Bagh to demolish the home from where the stone pelting took place. The home belonged to a Hindu man named Kikaram who belonged to the Yadav community; the woman who was seen pelting stones lived there as a tenant. When Kikaram and his wife Meerabai presented their Hindu credentials, the authorities reportedly deferred the decision to demolish the house and instead decided to bulldoze the house adjacent to Kikaram’s, which belonged to Abdul Hamid.
As a mark of protest against this arbitrary, unjust and unfair decision to inflict financial losses on an innocent Muslim homeowner, Abdul Hamid, men and women gathered on the Begum Bagh-Mahakal Temple Road and staged a ‘chakkajam’ or a road blockade. A senior Muslim leader, the Shehr-e-Qazi, Khaliqur Rehman, appealed to the administration to refrain from taking such an arbitrary and hasty action in the name of dispensing justice. The confusion that followed regarding which home to demolish and the discussion with the locals took almost three-hours. The Qazi claimed that, if the state would demolish the house, “in 15 minutes the situation could worsen, to such an extent that neither party would be able to control.” The police took Rehman and other discussants to the control room while the administration remained adamant and finally, at 6pm, Abdul Hamid’s home was razed, and his family was rendered homeless.
The residents of the locality strongly condemned the state’s illegal and arbitrary action of demolishing a home purely on the grounds of suspicion that it was the site of stone pelting. The residents claimed that the administration’s decision of bulldozing Hamid’s house instead of Kikaram’s was based on their respective religious identities. The woman Yasmeen Bi who was arrested did not live in Kikaram’s house, and the locals claim that she was not the woman seen pelting stones. The Shehr-e-Qazi, Khaliqur Rehman alleged that the state administration was targeting the residents of Begumbagh, while ignoring the video footage of the bikers shouting communal slogans, pelting stones and damaging vehicles.
After the demolition drive, the Special Action Force staged a domination march through Begum Bagh and nearby areas. Section 144 was imposed, and the armed forces were deployed in every nook and corner of the neighbourhood.
The Administration’s Responsibility
The administration’s justification for the demolition of Hamid’s house was because allegedly stones were hurled at the rally from his rooftop. Later, the administration changed its stand and claimed that the home was an illegal encroachment. Regardless of the reason, the district administration acted illegally by bulldozing the home of a family of 16 without notice, reducing it to ruins. Hamid’s house-hold belongings, clothes, bedding, kitchen utensils, food-grains, furniture wereall thrown out.
Like the 200 other homes in Begum Bagh, Hamid’s home was built in the Mahakal Ghati on ‘patta’ land allocated by the state government. Hamid is a ‘patta’ homeowner and his family has been living there for the past three decades. The district administration’s plan to expand and beautify the Mahakaleshwar Temple premises by 70m involves the razing of these patta houses in Begum Bagh. The destruction of Abdul Hamid’s home is seen as the first step towards this project, conducted under the guise of ‘penalisation’ or ‘illegal construction.’
The Secretary of the organisation – Majlis-e-Ittehad-e-Ummah – Haafiz Mohammed Ayyub who is a social activist and runs a local hospital, claims that the residents of Begum Bagh will pursue the matter and seek justice in court. Their demands before the state administration include: (A) was permission sought for conducting the rallies?
(B) If yes, on what basis were they permitted and why weren’t Covid-restrictions followed?
(C) Why was the rally allowed to cross a sensitive neighbourhood multiple times in the day?
(D) Where does the investigation on their FIR stand and why no arrests have been made so far?
(E) On what basis was an order given to bulldoze Abdul Hamid’s house, without any notice?
Chapter 3: Chandankhedi Village, Gautampura
The communal violence in Chandankhedi village occurred on 29th December, when a rally to collect donations for the Ram Temple was taken out by the BJP leader Inder Patel, Sarpanch of the neighbouring village Dharmat and Bharat Patel from Kanvasa Village. Those in the rally, about 100 persons, first assembled at 10.30 am in Dharmat, passed through Chandankhedi, a Muslim majority village with about 400 houses at about 11.00 am. The rally passed on peacefully initially although all along abusive slogan targeting Muslims were being shouted, stones were thrown at the tail end of the rally towards its border with Kanvasa village. The bikers in the rally deserted their bikes as stones were being pelted and ran away. The villagers in Chandankhedi peacefully handed over the bikes to their owners without causing even a scratch on them. However, by the afternoon, about 3-4,000 Hindus assembled at the border between Kanvasa and Chandankhedi and attacked the Idgah mosque and a relatively better off Muslim family residing near the border.
In Chandankhedi village, 40 km from Indore, there are 400 houses of which about fifteen houses belong to non Muslim families. The 10 Hindu families in the village include 9 Dalits, there are a total of 1800 registered voters in a population of 2500. The main occupation of the village is farming and milk distribution. This village is of Naita Patels. They belong to the Muslim community. Generally, Naita Patels are businessmen or big farmers. They are peace loving by nature who do their business in harmony. On one side of Chandankhedi, about 10 kilometres away is Kanwasa and on the other side is Dharmat village. Kanvasa and Dharmat are Hindu-majority villages. These villages are on either side of the road. Farmers of the village sell milk to milk traders outside the village. Even after these riots, mutual trade relations continue to be cordial.
The villagers told us that the clash that took place after the first rally was settled among themselves. But the riots broke out after the arrival of Bharat Anjana (Patel), a former MLA (BJP).
It is obvious that when we visited Muslim majority villages, we met mostly Muslims. The residents of the village said that when the rally started from the village for the first time, the rally was peaceful albeit shouting of slogans till the rally reached the end of the village, when outsiders joined in, and instigated the youth of the village. They challenged the Muslim youth saying “Look, after all we took out a rally from your village and you guys could not do anything.” Along with this, derogatory slogans were raised, “Ram Mandir Banana Hai, Aurangzeb ki Auladon ko Sabak Shikhanahai” (Ram Mandir will be constructed and the children of Aurangzeb will be taught a lesson), “bacchabaccha Ram ka, chachiyonkekaam ka” (Ram’s children are for the Muslim aunties). After such provocative and obscene slogans were raised, some of the Muslim youth pelted stones at the rally. The elders of Chandankhedi scolded the youth and pacified them to maintain peace. The participants of the rally also dispersed leaving behind their motorcycles in the village. Dilawar Singh said, “We counted, there were 70 motorcycles. But we didn’t let even a single scratch come on any of the bikes. In fact, we told them that these are your motorcycles so please come and take them away. We won’t let any harm come to you. They even came and took their motorcycles away. Peace returned. However, after a few hours, former BJP MLA Bharat Patel came and threatened the villagers and said that “as punishment for what has happened today, everybody’s houses will be pulled down”. He publicly passed derogatory and provocative comments about Muslims. After this incident people started gathering outside the village. Dilawar, Amjad, Hakim Patel told us that the people who had gathered were calling and asking other people to come as well. Within 2-3 hours, a mob of about 5-6 thousand people gathered. Our informants told us that the rioters were members of Karni Sena and Shiv Sena. They had guns, swords, sticks and flags in their hands. The echoes of Hanuman Chalisa were accompanied by loud DJs playing Ram bhajans. There were only a handful of police to control such a big mob. The mob which gathered consisted of strangers. The members of the mob were shouting Ram slogans in an instigating tone and hoisted saffron flags. On entering the village, the agitated crowd started throwing stones and hitting with sticks on people’s homes, breaking windows, doors, electric meters, water pumps, removing religious flags on people’s homes and shouting derogatory slogans targeting Muslims. It is noteworthy that the power of the entire village was switched off before the second rally was flagged off.
On reaching the Imambara, the agitated crowd began to break the dome of the Imambara with swords, sticks and batons. The flags on the Imambara were removed and torn as if a war had been won and the saffron flag was hoisted on the Imambara by the victors and then the Hanuman Chalisa was recited.
On witnessing the mob gathering outside the village, the residents of the village felt restless and anxious. The residents living around the Imambara are financially weak living in houses made of tin or mud. They fled their homes for protection and hid behind the house near a well about one kilometre away from Imambara. The frenzied mob trampled the lush green fields and reached them. Those who could not run away were beaten with sticks and batons.
Sameena’s house was in front of the Imambara. Her three tractors, three motorcycles, water pumps, TVs, logs of wood and her entire house, were all set on fire. The doors of the toilets and bathroom were broken. They tried to break the doors of the house with sticks and swords. They broke the glasses of the windows and hit the buffaloes. When the men of the house came out to save their father and a little girl, they were attacked with gunfire and sticks. Three bullets were fired from the gun, out of which Hakim Patel received two bullets below the knee. The police remind mute spectators. Sameena angrily recalls that when she pleaded with the policemen standing near the window to save the men of her house, they quietly lowered their eyes, bowed their heads and moved away. She along with the other women also pleaded with the bystanders, but no one came to save them. Then finally the women, abandoning all fear, came out of the houses and somehow dragged the injured men to their home. They feared the mob and also realized that if they didn’t go to rescue the men, then the men probably would not have been beaten to death.
“The policemen fired tear gas only after our men were beaten up, our house, tractor, motorcycles and all were burnt. Then the crowd dispersed”. But Imambara and Sameena’s house are at the end of the village. The police swung into action after the village was gutted in the fire of hatred and violence in the name of religion.
The Ten Hindu houses in the Village were untouched:
According to information from villagers and newspapers, 27 people were arrested in this incident, out of which 23 people were released on bail after 8 days. Four people were in Depalpur jail under Section 307 till the visit of the fact-finding team. These four incarcerated belong to the Muslim community. The police did not take the statement of the person who received gunshot injuries until the fact-finding team’s visit. Patwari-SDM made a Panchnama recording a loss of 12 lakhs and 45 thousand to Sameen’s family. However no further action was reported, and nor was any compensation given.
The following day, the state brought in 7 to 8 JCBs to demolish 12 homes in the area which were suspected as houses from where stones were thrown on the rally. Demolitions of those homes was by way of punishment. Earlier, those in the rally fired gunshots and injured three persons, attacked with swords and injured others, damaged tractors, vehicles, food grains, burnt homes, broke their doors, and now the state had come to demolished the homes of others whom they suspected to be stone pelters, razing the structures with JCBs without any notice or prior information. It was painful, even for us, to see the demolished homes. We cannot imagine the pain undergone by the residents of those homes. The state quickly constructed a road to make it appear that the demolition was for road widening and not a salutary punishment for stone-pelting. However, the team noticed that the road widening was done only in a patch of 10-15 metres, the and the temporary, quick, superficial layering of the road was evident. Before and beyond the demolished homes the road continued to be as narrow as before. The plea that demolition of homes for road widening was specious, to say the least.
This attitude of the administration, police and government raises many questions. The first question is that at the time of Covid-19, when Section 144 is imposed, why were the rioters allowed to organize the illegal rally? Why was the rally allowed passage through Muslim dominated villages? Why were the police mute spectators even when the rallyist were openly carrying guns, and wielding swords and rods? Why were the police mute spectators when gun shots were fired and arson for hours together? Why did the police not stop them? Why are the gunmen not arrested yet?
Chapter 4: Dorana Village, Mandsaur
Hindu organisations rise in village Dorana
On December 29, 2020, in village Dorana, about 17 km from Mandsaur district headquarters, a violent incident was triggered by spreading rumours before asking for donations in the name of the Ram temple construction. All this occurred in the presence of top police officers. The fact-finding team reached village Dorana one month after the incident and met the victim and district superintendent of police Siddharth Chaudhary. According to the information given to the press by the police after the violent incident, “A case was registered against six people over a dispute between two parties during the Jan Jagran rally. On receiving information of the incident, the police administration rushed to the spot and controlled the situation.
Incidents in Dorana village
People from the aggrieved Muslim community told the fact-finding team that since 24 December there had been propaganda on social media that “Aurangzeb’s progeny have to be taught a lesson …”. According to Ahmed Noor Mansuri, the village Muslim community’s former head, “on December 25, some youth were playing drums to the music of the DJs, during the Friday prayers in the mosque. The youth asked the children playing on the street for the route to the Saraswati Shishu Mandir. The children asked him to reduce the noise. Later, the youth left and publicized that they were assaulted by Muslim men. Hindu youth from nearby villages were called upon to chant “Chalo Dorana”, on social media. Muslim community members met the police inspector and demanded protection from them, fearing any untoward incident. However, the Town Inspector (TI) told them that the rally will take place, the organizers of the rally do not need any kind of permission, and that they would not stop it. With this answer, the dissatisfied community members met the district Superintendent of Police (SP) with a memorandum. The SP assured them that he had the information and that he would take the responsibility for the safety of the community members.
On December 28, the SP along with the police force arrived in the village and told the Muslim community that they should maintain peace and leave their homes when the Hindu community members take out a rally the next day (on 29th December). That there was a likelihood of their getting provoked if they were present in the village. The Muslim community obeyed the SP and most of the people hid in the fields with their families. Some people were watching the developments from a safe distance
Hindu mobs started gathering at the nearby Nag Bawji crossroad on the morning of 29 December. There were about 7000 people on the road leaving their vehicles before DJing near the mosque with DJ vehicles just before 1.45 pm. According to an eyewitness, there were 14 DJs. The miscreants recited Hanuman Chalisa for 1 hour outside the mosque, sang hymns, gave speeches and at the same time challenged the people of the Muslim community to come forward. On this occasion, all the police officers subordinate to him including the Superintendent of Police were present.
All this went on till about 2:30. As there was no response from anywhere, the miscreants removed the Islamic flag on the mosque and put a saffron flag there. Tucked the sheet of the dargah under their feet and burnt it. Later, the mob identified Muslim houses, broke the doors of the houses, broke the electric meters, looted the homes, and chanted “bachchabachcha Ram ka – chachiyonkekaam ka”. The crowd stretched out till village Bhalot which is two and a half kilometres away.
There are 90 houses belonging to the Muslim community in village Dorana, out of which 60 houses were vandalized. According to a villager Mohammad Hussain, he was watching the entire incident from the nearby cemetery. The DJ’s vehicles were equipped with arms. After finishing the recitation of Hanuman Chalisa, gun shots were fired in the air, there were chants of “Jai Shri Ram”. During this time, sighting the Muslims, including women standing in the fields, part of the mob chased them with naked swords. Frightened, they ran for their lives for more than 2 kms into distant fields to save their lives. Every Muslim house was ransacked in the village which had an Islamic flag. Later at 3:00 pm the mob left.
Testimonies of victims
According to Abdul Ghafur, a petrol bomb was hurled at him, causing a burn injury on his leg. According to the former community head Ahmed Noor Mansuri, the police vehicles parked near the mosque were removed just as the disturbances started. This facilitated the attack on and damage to the mosque by the miscreants. Fakru’s house was ransacked and looted and even after one month, his FIR has not been recorded by the police station. The maximum damage was done to Mohammad Hakim’s house. According to Hakeem, his house was completely ransacked and looted. Hakim and some others were watching all this from a distance. When the crowd saw him, about 500 people rushed towards him with swords in their hands. He was also fired upon with two 12 bore guns. However, he hid in a corner and survived. According to Sher Bano, about five hundred miscreants ran towards them with swords spotting them in the fields. She ran away with her own five daughters and the five daughters of her brother-in-law. Other women from the neighbourhood were also running along with them. Sher Bano fell down while running and injured herself. She was afraid that she would be sexually assaulted by the attackers. She managed to reach the village of Badakhedi, where her in-laws reside, hailed a transport, and escaped. Her husband Sikandar Ali is a teacher. According to her, their house was also vandalized, damaging the windows, TV and other household gadgets and furniture. The mobile phones of her daughter, studying in class 12 and of her son were also damaged. The bangles in her sister-in-law’s bangle shop were broken. Even after a month, they have not been able to get the window and doors of their house repaired as their financial situation isprecarious. The FIR of this woman was also not recorded. Shakira’s husband Noor Mohammad, Raisa, Jubera and others told us that they ran into the fields hungry and thirsty. Running through the standing crop was not easy.
NM Mansuri’s brother is in the police department. A name plate to this effect is also displayed outside his house. Despite this, the miscreants vandalized his house. According to Imam Raza Sultan, the story about a dispute on both sides is false. Namaz could not be recited in the mosque on that day due to the incident. According to the victims, there are several videos of the incident from which miscreants can be identified. They looted 60 houses and damaged their property. Despite the massive damage and loot, only 5 FIRs were recorded. According to the Superintendent of Police, nine accused have been arrested. There is a clear allegation from the Muslim community that this incident took place under the protection and supervision of the administration.
Despite obeying the police and deserting their homes on their instructions, and despite the large police presence, the homes of the victims were badly damaged. The police utterly failed to protect their lives and their property. They did not even record their FIRs. It was a humongous and arduous task to get their FIRs recorded. They could register only 5 FIRs whereas about 50 homes were damaged. Shiv Sena leaders were always inside the police station.
According to the Muslim community, village Dorana is a colony of 500 houses, out of which 90 houses belong to Muslims. Before this incident, there was social harmony. But now after this incident, some people have decided that Hindus will not have any relations with the Muslims. Those who defy this dictate and continue to keep relations with the Muslims will have to pay a penalty of ₹ 2000. There was an announcement that one person from every house should join the rally. The provision of penalty was also made for those who did not attend the rally. Muslim houses were also identified by the same local Hindu youth in the rally. As a result, there is a deep distrust between the two communities.
Testimonies of authorities
The Sarpanch of the village is Rody Bai. However, all the work is done by her husband Gautam Lal. According to Lal, before the incident, he got a call from the police station asking him to take care of the situation during the rally. He had goneout of the village for family work two days earlier but he returned to the village especially for the rally as instructed by the police. He remained in the village till 11:00 am on that day but since the rally did not begin, he left. Lal told us that whatever happened on that day is wrong. It is customary not to play the band in front of the mosque. He was, however, not aware of the social and economic boycott of the Muslims.
When the team members met the Superintendent of Police Shri Siddharth Chaudhary, he denied that anyone left their homes on the day of the incident. The crowd was larger than the police had expected. Rumours were rife due to which the police could not control the situation. Chaudhary compared his situation with that of the Delhi Police on 26th January when the farmers outnumbered the police and forced their way towards the Red Fort. However, the inability to control the mob appears to be an utter failure on the part of the police especially when the SP was present on the spot. Further, more the police appear to have deliberately given a free hand to the “rally” (attackers) for a couple of hours and allowed them to damage the mosques, loot nearly 50 houses, demonstrate their prowess and hegemony, and then disperse. The police force led by the SP didn’t fire a single bullet, or lob a single tear gas shell or even swing a lathi to disperse the mob. They simply presided over the pillage and loot as mute spectators. One wonders, when threatening posts were doing their rounds in social media and Muslims were desperately petitioning the police to protect them, how could the SP claim that the large assembly in the rally was unexpected, and attribute the same to the rumours? What was even more shocking was that he was blaming the entire incident on the head of the Muslim community in the village, who according to him did not want peace. The fact is the allegation is completely unfounded as no one from the Muslim community had as much as lifted a finger to cause harm to anyone. The SP instead was taking credit that no major incident had taken place in the village after that fateful day. Was there an effort by the Hindus to precipitate another crisis which the police were successful in preventing? When asked whether the organizers of the rally had taken permission for the rally, the SP said no such permissions were required. On that day, rallies were held at other places in the district as well and nobody had taken permission. Rallies were taking place all over the state. Section 144 has been imposed in the village after the incident.
Panchayat elections related to the incident
According to the villagers, every time during the Gram Panchayat elections, voters are polarized by spreading communal propaganda. In the 2014 elections, some people were falsely implicated in a case of cow slaughter. Another time Muslims were accused of plastering cow dung on the idol of Hanuman. Later an agreement was signed on condition of voting for a particular candidate. Dorana Gram Panchayat was formed in the year 1984.Till 1995 Narendra Singh was the Sarpanch from the Congress Party as nobody ever contested any election against him. Later, the Bharatiya Janata Party tried to polarize the votes in every election by creating a controversy over religion. Currently elections have been announced. Earlier there was an attempt to stage a rally and cause disturbance during Muharram, but Kishore PatanVala, the then police station in-charge who also investigated the alleged cow slaughter case handled the situation effectively and was praised by the villagers for his fair and timely actions without any external pressure.
The villages of the area have a mixed population of Hindus and Muslims. Most villages are Hindu-dominated except village, Badakhedi where 80% of the population belongs to the Muslim community. But there was never any communal incident there. In village Achera too, both communities are in equal numbers. The state officials, although bound by the Constitution, are acting in a partisan manner. There is an atmosphere of fear as Hindu nationalist aggressors roam around with impunity.The police claims that they are unable to provide protection to the minority community despite prior knowledge of attacks. The brazen abdication of duty by the administration, is frightening to say the least. The police could have easily prevented this fateful incident by increasing their force, prohibiting the assembly of 4 or more persons in the village under section 144 of the Cr. P.C. Instead, the police asked the minority families to go to the fields while the police continued to be mute spectators for nearly three hours.
To prevent communal incidents, all prudent people and social organizations need to unite and make efforts to increase mutual understanding and goodwill between the two communities. We demand from the state government that the victims of Dorana village be given appropriate compensation. All the accused, organizers of the rally and those who were part of the illegal assembly should be arrested and prosecuted. Action should also be taken against all those who propagate hate on social media. Action should also be taken against police and administrative officers who failed to perform their duty. Only then will faith and be instilled in the minority community.
Role of media
This incident was also taken very lightly by the news media, despite three similar incidents taking place in the state around the same time. The newspapers produced the stories and version handed out to them by the police.The media did not report facts from the ground after talking to all the concerned parties.
Most of the people in the village are dependent on farming and wages. Abdul Hakim’s status in Muslim society is better than others. He has a television and air conditioner and a show room on the main road in Mandsaur. Because of this, the miscreants vandalized his pucca two-storey house. Not only were household electronic devices damaged, but also money kept in cupboards was looted. During the incident, his father Abdul Ghaffar was hiding in the house. Seeing him standing outside the house, the SP shouted, “You go inside the house. We will protect you.” Four police men were standing outside the house at that time.
Chapter 5: Harassment of Christians at the hands of Hindutva groups in Adivasi areas of Alirajpur
Hindutva groups are harassing minority communities in Alirajpur as well, just like in other parts of the country. The fundamental right to freedom of religion granted by the Constitution is not protected by the authorities. Officials act in a partisan manner favouring violent groups from the majority community. This is happening largely inremoteareas inhabited by the Adivasis as these areas are rarely covered by the national media.The fact-finding mission visited Alirajpur in Jhabua District to inquire into incidents of communal violence there. We heard the testimonies of the victims of violence who were from the Christian community and belonged to the Scheduled Tribes.
Members of the Christian community had assembled in Alirajpur on the 30th of January 2021, for celebrating the New Year. The congregation included the Adivasis who had been harassed on the allegation of converting people to Christianity. After the programme, we met the people who were persecuted by the Hindu nationalist groups. In Dewada, a village in Thikri Tehsil in the Badwani district, Rakesh,s/o Sukhval, told us that on 31stDecember 2020, he and his wife went to his aunt’s house (Sardar bhai) in Naidar village to visit them and discuss the preparations for the newyear’s programme. According to Rakesh, between 2:00 and 2:30 PM, 25 to 30 people entered the house, snatched their mobile phones and grabbedthe Bible. They began shoving them around and beating them. They pushed his pregnant wife Leela and kicked her on the stomach which made her unconscious. Some people picked her up and took her to a nearby house and later she was taken to Badwani Hospital. The kicks on her stomach caused a miscarriage and she delivered a dead child.
According to Rakesh, the assailants were RSS members from the nearby villages. When the victims went to Thikri police station to file a complaint, the police refused to register an FIR.After a long wait, the police simply took our written memorandum detailing the incident and kept it but did not act on it. The main accused is the leader of Bajrang Dal of Thikri village.
The victim, Leela, stated in an affidavit that more than 25 people had entered Sardar Pita Richu’s house on that day, and she recognised Gaurav Sharma, Ramesh Rathore and Mangal Patel. The accused tried to outrage the modesty of the women by committing indecent acts. They touched our bodies with bad intentions. ‘They took me and other women outside the house and tried to stripoff our clothes.’ One of them kicked meon mystomach. On the 1st of January 2021, we tried to file a complaint at the Thikri police station, but the police abusedus and forcefully turned us away without filing an FIR.
All three assailants are influential members of the RSS. They put political pressure to prevent the hospital from conducting the post-mortem of the dead baby. The hospital staff colluded with them [the assailants] and discharged Leela from the hospital without proper medical papers and documentation. The accused threatened that if they worshipped Jesus ever again, the women would be paraded naked in the village.
Pastor Daasam told us that each Sunday, they met at a different house to pray together but the police stopped them from praying together, saying the Hindutva group would come and beat them up. Suneer Soniya, resident of Badi Sardi village said that on 25th October in Arthi village of Alirajpur tehsil, when they were praying in the church, more than 30 people, riding more than15 motorcycles barged in and attacked them.This resulted in fracturing one woman’s foot. Everyone in the prayer meeting was beaten up. Youth forewarned them about the impending attack which led to some people in the congregation hiding themselves. The assailants also had guns. A report was filed at Chandpur police station. In the aforesaid village, there are 6 families who have been practising Christianity for more than 100 years. The attackers were from the Hindu Rakshak Dal. The victim families were so scared that they couldn’t even celebrate Christmas that year. Alirajpur has more than 80 churches but hardly 15 or 20 churches are functioning. The rest have been closed by the police.
According to Shantavant Dabar, a student of Government School, his family has been practicing Christianity for four generations. On 25th February, 2020, when he was praying at his brother’s house, around 10 people with guns and sharp weapons came and threatened them. They [the family] called the police. The attackers were arrested and taken to the police station but later all were released. The police officer told them [the family] to go to the court as the police couldn’t do anything. Rem Singh Bamniya is a pastor at village Bara Urva. He said that on 23rd December 2020, when the congregation met in the church, some people who called themselves members of the Hindu Jagriti Sangathan attacked them and abused them. Many of the attackers were intoxicated Among the attackers was the brother of the MLA, Dileep Chauhan, who has beenaccused of raping a nun. Apart from him, Sarpanch Param Singh and Madan Patel were also involved in the attack. It was an accepted fact that if Christians offered prayers, they wouldn’t be allowed to stay in the village. There are 150 Christians in the village. Even now, the attackers call them on the phone and threaten them. There are recordings of these calls. Rem Singh said, “The police accused me and my brother of violence and applied pressure on us to compromise/reach a settlement.” They demanded a bribe of 3 thousand from each of the brothers and took ₹ 400 for the court date. Rem Singh’s wife Idi Bamniyan said that the assailants attacked women with lathis (sticks) and beat them black and blue. Even the watchman of the village was present among the attackers. At that time, the Sarpanch, the chief police officer and other policemen were all present there. They used coronavirus as an excuse to stop the Christians from praying.
Kemta Chauhan, a resident of Temachi village of Jobat tehsil, said that he stays in Jobat. His parents are not Christians. On 14 January 2021, the Sarpanch, the village’s part-time police official known as Patel, and the watchman of the village used the corona virus as a pretext to stop him from praying and accused him of calling people from outside to participate in religious conversions. The police are supposed to have apprehended 10 people coming from Gujarat and filed a case against them when nothing of the kind took place.
After hearing the testimonies and perusing the documents, we conclude that the district administration and police utterly failed in protecting the Christians among the ST community. The victims were denied their Constitutional rights. The allegation of religious conversion is false propaganda to justify violence against the Christian community. According to the census of 2011, in Madhya Pradesh, the population of Christians is a mere 0.29%. After 1971, the proportion of the Christian population has been declining.
It is also important to note that most of the attacks conducted by the Hindu nationalists, are taking place in remote Adivasi villages and not in cities. In the cities, many BJP senior leaders have received convent education in schools run by Christian missionaries. And even today, their kids are getting educated in these schools.
An analysis of the attacks by the Hindu nationalists on Christians settled in rural areas reveals a clear caste bias. Furthermore, the administration’s prejudicial treatment has only encouraged violent groups. Now it is time, peace loving citizens who believe in the constitution forward to protect constitutional and human values.
Chapter 6: Conclusion
There is a greater likelihood of communal riots taking place just before elections rather than in normal times. The communal riots in the Malwa region of MP are one such example. The region considered a stronghold of RSS elected 26 out of 50 Congress MLAs in the 2018 State Assembly elections. The Congress won a total of 114 out of the 230 Assembly seats and formed the government with the support of BSP and Independent MLAs. However, in the bye-elections of November 2020 the Congress government was unseated by Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s BJP Government. The local body elections were due in February 2021, and the BJP would have to win these elections to secure their position. The bike rallies at the village levels appear to be organized with the primary purpose of politically uniting the Hindus despite their caste based social stratification. The idea was to exploit people’s devotion towards Lord Ram as a presiding deity of this proposed unity keeping the caste based hierarchical stratification intact. Collecting funds for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya was only a means to achieve this objective. This political unity of the needs Hindus keeping the social hierarchy intact stands on two legs – 1) a sacred symbol which the Hindu nationalists found in Lord Ram and its temple in Ayodhya – a positive pull factor, and 2) fear or threat of an imagined enemy – a negative push factor. The Hindu nationalists have been targeting the Muslims and the Christians and projecting them as a threat to the existence of the Hindu community.
The religious Hindu community is sought to be converted into a political community that would pull its act together to establish its dominance and hegemony over ‘others’. Producing collective violence and mobilizing members of the community in this project deepens the fear as well as hatred of the targeted community. The violence does not only establish social and political dominance and hegemony over the targeted community – Christians and Muslims in this case – but also overawes those castes and social groups of the Hindu community who were not impressed / pulled by the sacred symbolization nor were they influenced by the hatred or threat of the targeted community. We see this in the form of communal polarisation during elections. The Bike rallies seemed to have been planned not at the central level, nor at the state level, as witnessed in earlier large scale violence in which more than 10 people were killed like anti-Sikh violence in Delhi in 1984, Bhagalpur 1989, Gujarat 2002, Kandhamal 2008, Muzaffarnagar 2013 and North-East Delhi 2020 among many others seeking large-scale and massive polarization. After the ascendance of Hindu nationalists with an absolute majority at the Central level, such large scale riots are not needed anymore. What is needed is polarisation of the communities in Southern India and rural areas.
The communal violence in December 2020 in Ujjain, Chandankhedi, Dorana and villages in Jhabua district appears to have been the initiative of the local village level by leaders having political ambitions for the upcoming local body elections and the bike rallies were an instrument to achieve their objective. Only this can explain why the bike rallies were taken out through Muslim residential areas coinciding the rallies with the prayer time in mosques and shouting abusive slogans meant to provoke a reaction from some member of the Muslim community. The slogans had nothing to do with religion. They were politically motivated, vulgar and abusive. If there was no reaction the first time, then, as in Ujjain, they passed and re-passed the area repeatedly till there was a reaction.
That the bike rallies appear to be an initiative by local leaders. The participants were so ill prepared that when a couple of stones were hurled, they abandoned their bikes and ran for their lives in Ujjain, Dorana and Chandankhedi. However, the organizers had the support from other Hindu nationalist groups and the state and therefore, they regrouped within hours in Ujjain and Chandankhedi and after 4 days in Dorana with a larger mobilization, armed with dangerous weapons, including fire arms and sharp weapons and in Chandankhedi, they also had combustible substances to set fire to the properties of targeted the community.
Though the initiators of the rally were ill-prepared, they were fully supported and backed by the Hindu nationalist eco-system and the state. Ordinarily, rallies in which weapons are carried, rallies in which music is played outside mosques and rallies in which abusive and communal slogans are shouted are prohibited by the state as they are a threat to law and public order – Not only were these rallies allowed but also encouraged as the police remained mute spectators to the violence inflicted by those in the rally, including attacks on the mosques in the case of Dorana and Imambara in Chandkhedi. One does not have to be a law and order expert to predict the motivations and consequences of such rallies. Yet these rallies were allowed and the SP of Mandsaur – Chaudhary unapologetically stated that there was nothing wrong or illegal in taking out such rallies. The rally taken out on 29th in Dorana was planned to violently attack the Muslims was obvious to the police as well. The leaders of the Muslim community petitioned the police about such intentions of the organizers of the rally as the mobilization was open and public on social media as was the threat of violence. Rather than prohibiting the rally, securing order and peace, the police asked the Muslims of the village to desert their homes that day. The hapless Muslims deserted their homes with the hope that the police would protect their property. Yet the police took no measures whatsoever to stop the violence. The rioters in Dorana after publicly announcing their intentions and preparing and equipping themselves, could carry out violence to their heart’s content, looted the valuables from homes of the Muslims and yet the police was hesitating to register their FIRs, and arresting the organizers of the rally.
Worst, the political leadership problematized stone throwing which did not injure anyone. The Chief Minister threatened to enact a strict legislation providing greater punishment for stone throwing. They did not speak against abusive slogan shouting, nor against the members in the rally armed with firearms and sharp weapons and firing bullets injuring one Muslim in Chandankhedi and the firing in Dorana village. The Home Minister Narottam Mishra further threatened that the people from houses from which stones were thrown, will be evicted. The BJP leaders called for strict action; the strict action was illegal demolition of the homes in Ujjain and Chandankhedi without following due process and in case of Ujjain, even demolishing the house of a Muslim family in the neighbourhood of the home from where stones were thrown. The administration knew that no stones were thrown from the house they are demolishing, it only happened to be in the neighbourhood of the house owned by a Hindu and from where stones were thrown.
Illegality and even immorality and falsehood are evident in the state action. We are forced to conclude that as the Hindu nationalists are ruling the state, the administration also illegally colluded with the rioting mob by providing JCBs to demolish homes of the targeted Muslim community. The statements by the Chief Minister and Home Minister of the state sent a message to the state administration that even the illegal actions of the members of the majority community are to be protected, while allowing the minority community to be targeted through extra legal and illegal violence. Unfortunately, the officials chose to comply with the wishes of their political bosses rather than uphold the Constitution.
- The organizers of the bike rallies in Begum Bagh (Ujjain) and Chandankhedi (Indore) and rally with large numbers of DJs in Dorana (Mandsaur) were determined to provoke at least a section of Muslim youth to react which would then become a pretext to inflict heavy and violent consequences to demonstrate their political hegemony.
- The state could have easily prevented all three anti-Muslim riots and the anti-Christian violence in Jhabua District as those indulging in riots targeting the Muslim and Christian community members are ill-prepared local level leaders. However, in the case of Dorana, the mobilization of the members of the Hindu community was an open call for violence. Yet the police did nothing and let the rioters have a free hand in all three cases as well as in several cases of anti-Christian violence in Alirajpur.
- On the contrary, large scale arrests of innocent members from the minority communities have been made under draconian laws singling them out for harsh punishments.
- The police are also dragging their feet regarding taking any action against the organizers and members who were part of the illegal assembly and rioting mobs. There is an atmosphere of impunity prevailing as far as the Hindu nationalist leaders are concerned. On the other hand, overzealous and extra-legal harsh punitive actions are taken against the members of the Muslim and Christian communities which is leading to denial of their fundamental rights.
- The political leadership of the state, including the Chief Minister and the Home Minister Narottam Mishra have openly shown partisan attitude and defended the indefensible in violation of their oath of office.
The Fact-Finding Committee demands:
- The perpetrators of violence and those involved in criminal offenses in Ujjain, Chandankhedi and Dorana irrespective of religion and without any fear or favour be brought to justice with the intention of securing exemplary punishment under the law.
- Special Investigation Team be constituted under the supervision of MP High Court to file FIRs, investigate the complaints registered and prosecute those involved in the offenses. Special public prosecutors be appointed to ensure justice with the consent of the survivors of the communal violence. If necessary, witnesses be given protection and security to enable them to depose without fear.
- The charges under draconian laws like UAPA and u/s 124A of the IPC (sedition charges) against members of the minority community be withdrawn.
- Those whose houses have been demolished by the state without any notice and without following due process should be compensated fully and the structures restored. In addition, they should be compensated adequately for the mental stress they suffered.
- The state officials responsible for the demolition of homes and structures without following due process of law should be punished in accordance with the law and the process for their suspension/removal from the service be initiated forthwith.
- Police officers who were mute spectators to the communal violence should also be punished in accordance with the law.
- Those injured in the riots and anti-Christian violence and those whose properties were destroyed in the rioting should be fully compensated
- Rallies with provocative slogans and with members carrying illegal arms and weapons should be prohibited and strict legal action taken against such rallies.
- All those who made statements, including those in the highest political office be prosecuted in accordance with the law for offences u/s 153-A of IPC for promoting ill-will, animosity or hatred on grounds of religion. The media responsible for propagating hatred and targeting any community should also be dealt with in accordance with the law.
- Civil society organisations that work for peace and harmony will have to work hard and make persistent efforts to promote better relations between the communities.