HARDA – As the Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh prepares to go to polls later this month, the state’s politicians fear that the right-wing Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may incite communal violence in order to stay in power.
“We oppose fascist ideology of these Hindu organizations,” Lajja Shankar Hardenia of National Secular Forum told Onislam.net.
“We want that people of all religion should remain in peach with each other. Members of any particular community should not be persecuted.”
Going to polls on November 25, Madhya Pradesh has been ruled by the right-wing Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the last ten years.
In an incident that occurred in September this year at Khirkiya Nagar Panchayat in Harda district of the state, which has a sizeable number of Muslim population, large number of Muslims lost their movable and immovable property after a mob, led by a local BJP leader, attacked Muslim homes.
A local school and a mosque were also attacked by Hindu fundamentalists who accused Muslims of cow slaughter.
According to a recent report of civil society groups, the skinning of a dead cow by a member of an oppressed caste on the premises of his Muslim landlord sparked the riots.
The police could not control the ensuing mob fury, standing as a mute spectator to the incident.
“The police also fired shots to disperse the crowd, which resulted in injuries to three people. Later, the police arrested 30-35 people,” a fact-finding report said.
“From the nature of the riots, it is highly probable that it was pre-planned. Bottles and kuppiyo (funnels), filled with petrol, were used in the attacks. Muslim households were looted before being torched.
“The mob was composed of people from other districts as well. It cannot be ruled out that some locals helped the mob in locating Muslim houses and properties. During the riot, children were in schools.
“The mob attacked the schools as well. However, Muslim children were unhurt due to the presence of mind of school teachers, who locked the children in one room to hide them from the attackers,” the report added.
The timing of the riots, according to the fact-finding report, has also stirred many doubts about being planned by Hindu politicians.
“The date of the riot appears to have been decided beforehand to coincide with a public meeting attended by the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister in the neighboring Betul district,” the report further said.
“A large number of police personnel were sent to Betul for providing security to the Chief Minister. Hence the rioters outnumbered the police personnel and there was hardly anyone left to control the mob.
“The masterminds behind the incident were Surendra Purohit (alias Tiger) and Sadeep Patel, son of local Member of the State Legislative Assembly, Kamal Patel. Mr. Purohit had reportedly been stationed at the place for the past two months.
“He claims to be the chairman of Go-Raksha Commando Force and also the Secretary of the local Charuwa (cattle shed). He has been absconding since the day of the riot. It is alleged that he incited the mob through hate speeches.”
Since the BJP came to power in 2003, the minority communities, namely Muslims and Christians, have been at the receiving end in Madhya Pradesh.
Cities like Khandwa, Indore, Ratlam, Jabalpur and Betul are communally sensitive. Between 2005 and 2013, more than 965 incidents of communal violence have taken place in Madhya Pradesh alone.
Earlier in August in Indore, the biggest town of Madhya Pradesh, Hindus and Muslims were at loggerheads after a dead cow was found near a temple.
\More than 40 people, including police officials, were injured after Hindus pelted stones at a Muslim locality. Finally the administration imposed curfew in the area.
However, this time after 15 years, the BJP has fielded a Muslim candidate from a Muslim-dominated North Bhopal seat.
They have fielded 78-year-old Arif Beg against four-time Congress MLA Arif Aqueel. North Bhopal is the only safe seat for Muslims along with Burhanpur, where they are in a position to decide the outcome of the election.
“The BJP wants to rule this country by dividing Hindus and Muslims,” Congress MLA Arif Aqueel said.
“We are against such politics. They have shown their true face through communal politics and they could go to any extent to remain in power.”
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