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Communalism

Watch | ‘Scared but Hoping for Justice’: Families Share Their Ordeal After Karauli Riots

The Wire's Yaqut Ali went to Rajasthan's Karauli to speak to families affected by the communal clashes, who also alleged that the police assaulted a minor Muslim boy.

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Karauli (Rajasthan): A curfew was enforced in Rajasthan’s Karauli on April 2 after communal clashes broke out in the area on the first day of the Hindu new year. The clashes began when a motorcycle rally celebrating Nav Samvatsar (the Hindu new year) was allegedly pelted with stones while passing through a Muslim-majority neighbourhood. In retaliation, several people vandalised shops and automobiles, the police said.

The Wire’s Yaqut Ali reached Karauli on April 5, Tuesday. On asking the district magistrate why journalists were not being permitted to report on the conflicted site, he said, “We are not allowing anyone into the city without a curfew pass, and we’re only allowing journalists to visit the location for an hour, between 12 and 1 pm.”

The Wire entered the city at 12:15 pm with the curfew pass; however, the Rajasthan Police were still obstructing the media’s attempts to talk to people. “We don’t want any conflict to happen because of the media,” a local constable told The Wire. But this reporter managed to talk to a few people in the city.

A total of 13 shops were burnt in Karauli, out of which 11 were owned by Muslims and two were owned by Hindus.

The Wire spoke to Sabir, who owned a garage that was charred in the communal clashes. 

“There are many garages in the area but only my garage was set on fire because of my identity. I had to suffer a loss of almost Rs 20 lakh. I believe it was done by the Bajrang Dal and the RSS. The one who burnt my garage and the one who did the fire extinguishing, both were Hindus. I believe Karauli is a peaceful place and the people here (both Muslims and Hindus) are peace lovers. I believe that those who burnt the city were not locals,” Sabir said.  

The Wire also spoke to a Muslim family, who lived near Sainath Khidkiya. They were scared but hoping for justice for their 14-year-old son who was allegedly beaten up by the Rajasthan Police in the lockup and tortured the whole night. “Police arrested my son and beat him the whole night,” Pappu, the father of the boy, said.

The boy told The Wire that when he told the police that he is a minor, they responded, “You have facial hair and you don’t look like 14” and pulled his facial hair. 

According to the family, he was threatened by the police to not speak about the incident to anyone.

Near Wazirpur Gate, which is barely five minutes away from Sainath Khidkiya, 18-year-old Danish was also allegedly arrested and beaten up in police custody.

“The police said what’s stopping you from saying Jai Shree Ram?” Danish and his family told The Wire, adding that they were asked to “go to Pakistan”.

The Wire asked the superintendent of police (SP) about the alleged assault by Sadar Police officers on the minor and Danish, to which he replied saying: “This has not happened and if the family believes that this has happened, then they should file an FIR and we will find out and take necessary action [against the officers].”

When a Hindu-Muslim riot happens, both communities are severely affected. Akhilesh Parashar, 26, who holds a BTech degree, went out on April 2 to bring food for the cow. He was assaulted during the communal clashes and is now admitted to Karauli’s district hospital. His injuries are so severe that he’s being referred to go to Jaipur for treatment.

“My son’s condition is deteriorating, I don’t know who assaulted my son. My son is not in a condition to speak,” Chotelal, father of Akhilesh Parashar, told The Wire.

Meanwhile, the SP said, “Twenty-two people have been arrested and many have been detained so far. The situation is under control. A peace committee meeting is also going on.”