Rights

Hindutva Groups Stoked Communal Tensions With MP Govt's 'Tacit Approval': Fact Finding Report

A nine-member team found a 'pattern' in the incidents of communal violence reported in late December 2020: that police did not act to protect the citizens.

New Delhi: A fact-finding team looking into the incidents of communal violence reported in late December 2020 in Madhya Pradesh has said that the Hindutva groups which were holding rallies to collect money for the Ram temple in Ayodhya were allowed by the administration and the police to create “an atmosphere of terror” and to burn and loot houses of Muslims.

The nine-member fact finding team included a former police officer, journalists and activists. It visited Ujjain’s Beghambagh, Dorona village in Mandsaur district and Chandankhedi village in Indore January 28 and 30 and perceived a “pattern” in all the incidents of communal violence.

“In the name of collecting donations for the Ram mandir to be built in Ayodhya, large numbers of armed Hindu youth with saffron flags, weapons and DJs deliberately chose bastis and mohallas with Muslim presence to hold rallies, creating an atmosphere of terror and trying to provoke the Muslim residents there, and foment trouble,” the report said.

The report adds that there was retaliatory stone-pelting by Muslim residents in some places, whereas the state government and Hindutva mobs also “demolished and damaged the houses of many Muslims”.

The team found that permissions were not taken for the rallies and that the police did not act to protect the citizens. The police and administration were “either silent bystanders when Muslims houses were being demolished or the administration themselves demolished the houses“, the report claims.

Muslim residents also told the team that their FIRs were not registered and there was no attempt to conduct investigations or enforce the rule of law. “It appeared as if these incidents were the hand work of a well planned strategy involving the Hindutva fascists groups and the state,” the report says.

The team also reported that some Christian Adivasis at Alirajpur were threatened with assault by saffron organisations.

“The team calls upon the government to stop these rallies of weapon clad youth in Muslim areas for collection of donations for the construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, to immediately carry out investigations and arrest the guilty, to compensate those whose houses were demolished or properties looted, or who were beaten or injured, and to restore the rule of law in these areas,” the report says.

The complete report is republished below.

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PRESS RELEASE BY FACT FINDING COMMITTEE ON COMMUNAL INCIDENTS IN WESTERN MADHYA PRADESH

A nine-member fact-finding team in a 3 day tour on the 28th, 29th and 30th, visited a number of places in Western Madhya Pradesh, where gross incidents of communal violence had occurred in December 2020, and had been reported in the media. The team perceived a pattern in all the incidents whereby in the name of collecting donations for the Ram mandir to be built in Ayodhya, large numbers of armed Hindu youth with saffron flags, weapons and DJs deliberately chose bastis and mohallas with Muslim presence to hold rallies, creating an atmosphere of terror and trying to provoke the Muslim residents there, and foment trouble. In some of the places, there was retaliatory stone pelting by the Muslim residents. The State and Hindutwa mobs also demolished and damaged the houses of many Muslims. In some places the mobs also looted the houses of the Muslims, beat up the buffaloes, and robbed the cash kept in the houses. In one place, saffron flags were put on each house and the masjid, the chadars at the local Dargah were burnt and crumpled underfoot and a large number of DJs read out Hanuman Chalisa in front of the Masjid thus preventing the local Muslims from offering their namaz.

The team found that there was a similar pattern in these incidents, namely that no permissions were taken for the rallies, that the police did not act to protect the citizens, and that the police and administration were either silent bystanders when Muslims houses were being demolished or the administration themselves demolished the houses. There seemed to be a disquieting and complete seamlessness between the fascist Hindu groups and the police. After the incidents too, hardly any police action was taken by the police and the authorities, FIRs of many Muslim people were not filed and there was no attempt to conduct investigations and enforce the Rule of Law. It appeared as if these incidents were the hand work of a well planned strategy involving the Hindutwa fascists groups and the State.

The first incident took place in Ujjain’s Beghambagh area on December 25, the second in Dorona village in Mandsaur district on December 26, followed by the third, in Chandankhedi village in Indore on December 29, 2020.

After visiting these places between January 28 and 30, and talking to a large number of people belonging to both communities, as well as the police administration, the team observed, with shock and dismay that the state government not just abdicated its role as protector of the victims but even demolished the homes of some of the victims. It is apparent that MP’s ruling BJP government gave tacit approval to aggressive Hindutwa groups to “teach Muslims a lesson”’.

Given the state government’s blatantly partisan role, the team members believe that the police force miserably failed to act against Hindutwa groups whereas youths from minority community bore the brunt of state-sponsored repression. Strangely, all the arrested in the incidents are Muslims.

The team also met some aggrieved Christian Adivasis at Alirajpur who alleged that members of saffron organisations are forcibly preventing them from conducting prayers at their respective villages. Some members reported that the youths of the majority community were also threatening to assault Christians and damage their properties.

The team calls upon the government to stop these rallies of weapon clad youth in Muslim areas for collection of donations for the construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, to immediately carry out investigations and arrest the guilty, to compensate those whose houses were demolished or properties looted, or who were beaten or injured, and to restore the rule of law in these areas.

Fact-finding Team:

Vibhuti Narain Rai (Former DG Uttar Pradesh), Delhi.
Irfan Engineer (Centre of Study of Society and Secularism), Mumbai.
Rakesh Dixit (Senior Journalist), Bhopal.
Chittaroopa Palit (Narmada Bachao Andolan), Khandwa.
Sarika Shrivastava (State Secretary, National Federation of Indian Women), Indore.
Advocate Shanno Shagufta Khan (Human Rights Law Network), Indore.
Harnam Singh (Senior Journalist), Mandsaur.
Nidah Kaiser (PhD candidate, SOAS, University of London) Mumbai.
Vineet Tiwari (National Secretary, Progressive Writers Association), Indore.