Processions on Ramnavami and Hindu New Year festivals were stoned in several cities of India this time. There seem to be some conspirators at work who want to foment communal violence.
On April 2, a Hindu New Year procession was stoned inside a Muslim locality in Karauli, Rajasthan, which led to stabbing and arson. This was followed by the stoning of Ramnavami processions in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh, and Anand, Gujarat on April 10. In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Wednesday night, we showed how the moulvi of a dargah in Anand, executed a plot to stone a Ramnavami procession, by assigning tasks of collecting stones, arranging the finance, and bringing in outsiders. Gujarat Police has arrested nine persons after unraveling this conspiracy. Local Muslims were completely kept out of this conspiracy so that the plot was not leaked out.
The inputs that were gathered by the police were amazing. On April 10, Hindus took out a procession in Khambhat of Anand town, it was stoned and this soon led to arson. Several shops were burnt. Ramnavami processions used to be taken out in Anand every year peacefully, and Muslims used to welcome these processions near the graveyard, but this time, there was a sinister plot at work.
The mastermind was Razzaq Hussain Patel alias Moulvi Ayub Malik, who had planned the stoning a week ago. The procession was taken out by Sri Ram Sena in Khanbhat by taking prior permission from authorities. Police investigation showed that Moulvi Razzaq along with his two associates planned a violent end to the procession. Those arrested told police that their aim was to strike fear in the minds of Hindus so that they would refrain from taking out a procession in the future.
Gujarat police said Moulvi Razzaq was helped by Majid, Jamshed Zorawar Khan, Mustaqueem alias Moulvi Yunus Khan, Mohammed Sayeed, and Matin Alti. Matin arranged finance, while Jamshed, Zorawar Khan, and Moulvi Yunus Khan arranged to bring outsiders to stone the procession. The location of the graveyard was identified so that stones could be collected and stone throwers could escape easily, said Ajit Rajan, SP of Anand district. The plan was to foment communal violence across Gujarat.
India TV reporter Nirnay Kapoor went to Shakkarpur locality in Khambhat and visited the spot where the stoning took place on April 10. Moulvi Razzaq Hussain stays in the dargah built at the kabristan (graveyard). The plot was unraveled when the Gujarat Police anti-terrorist squad arrested Jamshed Zorawar Khan, who admitted that youths were brought in from Bharuch and Ahmedabad to Anand the day before the violence. The stone-throwers were paid money, and were promised legal assistance if they were caught, Anand SP said.
This was the first time that a Ramnavami procession was attacked in Anand, where Hindus and Muslims used to celebrate the festival peacefully. The aim this time was to strike a wedge between both communities, and the plotters succeeded to some extent, when Hindus who took part in the peaceful procession, ran for their lives when stoning began. Several shops were set on fire and one person died. It goes to the credit of Gujarat Police that it unraveled the conspiracy and arrested all accused within 72 hours.
But in Himmatnagar of Sabarkantha district, people are still living in fear. Police arrested 40 persons after violence took place in Himmatnagar during Ramnavami. Stones and petrol bombs were thrown at the devotees. Eight Vanzara families decided to leave their localities out of fear but later agreed to stay after local officials promised them adequate security.
Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghvi visited Sabarkantha on Tuesday and ordered local police to provide full protection to affected families. Describing the attack, one of the affected persons said, huge stones were rained on their houses and soon after petrol bombs were thrown leading to fire. He said, their houses remained intact because the roofs were built with galvanized iron beams. One of them said a mob of nearly 500 people came from Chand Nagar.
In Khargone, Madhya Pradesh, several Hindu families have already joined an exodus from Muslim localities. Curfew is still in place since Ramnavami (April 10). MP police alleged that the rioters had collected stones in Talab Chowk locality and many of them were armed with lathis, knives, swords, and guns. Police have obtained several videos which clearly identify the faces of rioters. At present, there is peace but there is still an undercurrent of tension between Hindus and Muslims.
Armed police have been deployed in large numbers and security has been beefed up. Local residents say this is the third time, riots have taken place in the last ten years, and every time, riots take place during Hindu festivals. In 2015, Hindus returning after Ravan Dahan at the Vijayadashami festival were stoned. There was communal violence in 2018, and this year, the Ramnavami procession was stoned and shops were burnt. Hindu families are living in fear inside Muslim localities. Police officials are going through videos made by people who were cowering in fear inside their homes when rioters not only stoned the procession but also homes belonging to Hindus.
Some rioters tried to break over the gates to enter homes but failed. This was, by no means, spontaneous violence, but was carefully planned in advance. The rioters were armed with petrol bombs and guns. The local SP was injured when a bullet hit his foot.
The injured SP told India TV how rioters threw petrol bombs when police started firing tear gas shells to disperse the mob. The presence of petrol bombs clearly points towards a carefully planned conspiracy. MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has set up a Tribunal consisting of Retd Justice Shiv Kumar Mishra and former Secretary Prabhat Parashar, to assess the damage caused to private and public properties by rioters and submit a report within three months. The tribunal will also suggest measures to collect damages from rioters.
Till now, 16 houses and 34 shops belonging to rioters have been destroyed by local authorities by using bulldozers. Ninety-five rioters have been jailed. When former CM and Congress leader Digvijaya Singh opposed the setting up of the tribunal, MP Home Minister Narottam Mishra retorted by saying, “Digvijaya Singh has exposed the double character of Congress. On one hand, state Congress chief Kamal Nath has asked his workers to celebrate Ramnavami and Hanuman Jayanti, Digvijay Singh is supporting those who resorted to violence during these festivals. Our government will not desist from taking stringent measures against rioters”.
Meanwhile, the city Kazi of Bhopal Syed Mushtaq Ali Nadvi has advised Maulanas of all mosques in the city to install CCTV cameras to record all violent activities. He said this after meeting the state police chief. Kazi said that CCTV cameras installed outside mosques will clearly identify the miscreants, otherwise, Muslims will have to face bulldozers on their houses.
Whatever happened in Khargone during the Ramnavami festival was part of a well-planned conspiracy. The videos clearly identify the rioters, and on the basis of this identification, the local administration used bulldozers on the houses of those who indulged in stoning and arson. This is now being wrongly propagated as a questionable act against Muslims on the part of the government. Those making such allegations are doing a disservice to the Muslim community. The rioters shot the SP of Khargone in his leg, shops and vehicles were burnt and all these were part of a pre-planned conspiracy. It is unfortunate that action taken by the government is now being politicized.
At least, rioters were arrested in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, but in Karauli, Rajasthan, the main conspirator, Matlub Ahmed is still underground, and is yet to be arrested. There was stoning, arson, and violence during the Hindu New Year rally in Karauli on April 2. The rioters have been identified, but the main conspirator is still at large.
Karauli has now become a political hot spot for Congress, BJP, and other political parties. On Wednesday, Rajasthan Police prevented BJP’s youth wing president Tejaswi Surya and state BJP chief Satish Punia from going to Karauli. The party had planned to take out a ‘Nyay Yatra’ in the town, but the state government refused to grant permission. BJP workers were stopped at Hindon, nearly 30 km away from Karauli. BJP leaders were taken into custody by police but were released soon afterward.
BJP youth leader Tejaswi Surya lashed out at Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot by saying: “Is Karauli now in Pakistan? Should we apply for a visa to visit Karauli?” State Minister Pratap Singh Khachriawas said, “there is no problem in allowing entry to Karauli, but the objective of this BJP procession was intended to cause more tension. Since there is now peace in Karauli, BJP leaders want to take out ‘Danga Yatra’ and not ‘Nyay Yatra’”.
Till now, Rajasthan police have arrested 23 persons, but the main accused is still underground. Seven Hindu families have left the Muslim locality where they were staying. Former Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said, the Congress government imposes Section 144 to stop processions but simultaneously orders 24-hour power supply in Muslim localities during Ramzan. He alleged that the Congress government was “working against Hindus in order to appease Muslims.” AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said, the Gehlot government could have prevented violence in Kasauli had it wanted so, but now it should at least give compensation to those affected and punish the rioters. Owaisi was also stopped from entering Kasauli on Wednesday.
Most Hindus and Muslims want to live in peace in India. Nobody wants riots, violence, or bloodshed, but there are elements in both communities, who are trying to spread hatred and inflame passions. They try to pit one community against another. This was a clear, uniform pattern that has been noticed in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan during festival days. It is not a coincidence that violence took place at a time when handlers sitting in Pakistan are trying to mount a Hate India campaign on international and social media. Their sole aim is to level charges that Muslims are under attack in India, which obviously, is not the ground reality.
The female US Senator Ilhan Omar, who wears a hijab in America, projects herself as a self-styled crusader for Islam. She has tried to compare PM Modi with dictators like Augusto Pinochet of Chile. She did this at a time when India’s External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister were in Washington and were busy in top-level 2+2 dialogue. It was because of such reactions on social media, that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about “human rights abuses’ in India.
People in India and abroad should realize the nefarious objectives of such forces and must nip their conspiracies in the bud. All of us must ensure that both Hindus and Muslims should live in peace.
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