Ujjain Hindutva leader’s threat to Muslims: ‘Will create so many graveyards you will struggle for space to bury your dead’
Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India
NEW DELHI — Amidst the prevailing communal tensions triggered by the rallies of right-wing groups at multiple places in Madhya Pradesh, Municipality officials accompanied by police came with bulldozers and demolished the homes of poor Muslims in Chandankhedi village of Indore district.
According to the locals, the village is under the presence of heavy police which have installed barricades at different entry points to restrict the movement of the public.
“Seven JCBs (bulldozers) are busy demolishing houses of Muslims which are situated close to the road,” a local resident told Clarion India over the phone from his village in Indore district on Thursday morning. He said some houses were demolished on Wednesday evening. “When I was there I saw five houses razed,” he added.
The demolition of houses came a day after the area witnessed clashes between Muslims and Hindus who were part of a rally that marched through the village and raised “provocative slogans” outside a mosque. “Our locality is fully Muslim and there are no Hindu households here, still they came to provoke us,” said another Muslim resident over the phone. None of the people spoke to Clarion India wanted to be identified.
Visuals from the clashes show some people throwing stones and brickbats on motorcycle-borne men.
Videos circulating on WhatsApp show a crowd of Hindu men singing hymns in front of the mosque and blocking the road for movement. Some Muslims raised objections and started arguing which eventually led to violent clashes.
Following clashes, hundreds of policemen swooped in on the locality and rounded up a number of Muslim men and boys. Some of them were reportedly booked under the National Security Act. The police action has trigged a dread among the Muslims who say they do not spend their nights at their homes due to fear of raids. “Policemen come, search our houses and whoever they find, they nab them,” said another Muslim resident. “From my locality at least 12 people have been arrested so far but they are targeting many more.”
The officials argue that the demolition is part of an anti-encroachment drive to clear the road of illegal structures. But Muslims say that the drive is “lopsided”.
“Encroachment is just an excuse, this is reprisal because we opposed rallies,” said the resident. “This is not a legal action, just destruction.” He cited the example of a neighbouring village “where homes of Hindus are on road but no such demolition is being carried out there.”
The Hindu right-wing groups have launched an “awareness campaign” in parts of Madhya Pradesh for the upcoming fund-raiser for Ram Mandir which is under construction in Ayodhya. These rallies have caused communal disturbances and so far three incidents of violence have been reported. A pro-Hindutva crowd on Tuesday descended on Dorana, a Muslim-dominated village in Mandsur of Madhya Pradesh with weapons, vandalized the properties and allegedly looted lakhs of cash and jewelleries from their houses while the villagers fled away due to fear. Police later claimed to have arrested five men on charges of rioting and vandalism.
Abdur Rauf, a leader of Muslim community in Indore, denounced these rallies and the police action alleging these rallies and the demolition is happening with proper planning with help from the government. “Why are they coming in Muslim areas. We will never donate. Why should we”
Like Chandankhedi, a house in a Muslim locality of Begumbagh in Ujjain district was demolished by local administration on December 26 a day after cashes triggered by the similar rally of rightwing groups
The officials, according to media reports, claimed the demolition was done to remove the illegal structures but Muslims say this was under retribution for stone pelting. A local resident said that a lady who lived on rent in the house owned by Hindu had thrown a stone during the clashes. “When the officials started to demolish the house they found it belonged to a Hindu, they stopped and moved to next house of a Muslim and brought it down completely,” he said. “The woman, however, was arrested and charged with attempt to murder.”
Following the incident in Ujjain, a local Hindutva leader Acharya Shekhar put out a video giving violent threats to Muslims. Warning Muslim to refrain from “disturbing environment”, Shekhar says, “We will create so many graveyards in Madhya Pradesh that you will struggle for space to bury your dead.”
In the two-minute long video, he says, he is responding to reports of the “challenge of a Muslim cleric” Khaliq ur Rehman who had appealed to the police officials that they should stop action against Muslims otherwise situation would go out of hand in 15 minutes.
He asks the administration to “give up eating sewaiyan (vermicelli) of Muslims and stop being their slaves and focus on their duty”.
Clarion India approached the Ujjain Police for the threats mentioned in the video. “I have not seen the video yet and will be able to say anything only after I see it,” said Additional Superintendent of Police, Ujjain.
Shekhar boasts about 25 lakh Hindu population of Ujjain district and asks the administration to demolish the properties to evict those Muslims who have given “threats at the behest of Owaisi”– purportedly referring to AIMIM leader Assaduddin Owaisi.
Back in Indore a delegation of elders from the Muslim community met the inspector general of police to convey their resentment to the communal rallies, and the subsequent police action and demolition of houses. A member of the delegation Ishaq Ahmad described the meeting as “positive” saying, the IG listened to their demands and assured them that actions will be taken against miscreants from the other side as well.