relaxed in violence-hit Ratlam
Situation in the curfew-bound areas which witnessed communal
violence here is fast returning to normal with the district
administration on September 06 relaxing the restrictions for
two hours in phases. The curfew was relaxed from 8 am to 10 am and
The usual festivities associated with Eid-ul-Fitr, at the
culmination of month-long Ramzan, in Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP),
ruled Madhya Pradesh were subdued as Muslims protesting the
atrocities of police on them in Ratlam town, about 280 kms. from
Bhopal, did not celebrate it but rather “observed” it.
There was no feasting after fasting
for a month in the day-light hours.
Reportedly in about 48 Eidgahs all over Madhya Pradesh state
Muslim men-folk did not offer Namaz-e-Eid-ul-Fitr (special Eid
prayers) to register their protest against the police action and
its brazen highhandedness in Ratlam town following communal
violence after cow-dung was thrown in a Masjid of the town.
The Muslim men and children
abstaining from donning new outfits in Ratlam and adjoining
districts offered Namaz in mosques in their cities in their old
clothes while sporting black arm-bands. The residents of nearby
villages and towns like Neemuch, Badnawar, Nemawar etc. celebrated
Eid in a low-key manner in a show of solidarity towards the
riot-affected Ratlam Muslims.
The Coordination Committee for Indian Muslims, Madhya Pradesh
unit, submitted a memorandum on Tuesday to the chairman of Madhya
Pradesh Human Rights Commission urging it to investigate the
Ratlam riots and one-side police-action against Muslims wherein
their human rights were infringed severely. Similarly, the
memorandum is also being submitted to the state Governor Rameshwar
Thakur, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Home Minister Uma
Shankar Gupta demanding a magisterial inquiry into the whole
The Coordination Committee also demanded strict action including
the transfer of Ratlam Superintendent of Police Dr. Mayank Jain,
City Superintendent of Police, (CSP), Mahendra Tarnekar, Town
Inspector, (TI), Ranawat and three constables namely Neeraj Tyagi,
Jagdeesh Prasad and Vijay Kumar who played pro-active role in
police-action against Muslims during and after the violence so
that a fair magisterial inquiry could be conducted.
Meanwhile, another delegation of Madhya Pradesh Congress
Committee, (MPCC), led by its president Suresh Pachauri along with
spokesman Arif Masood and few victims of Ratlam police-action also
submitted a memorandum to the state Governor and Madhya Pradesh
Director General of Police S. K. Raut on Monday. The memorandum
demanded immediate action against the guilty police officers and
revoking of false cases under Section 307 IPC, (Indian Penal
Code), against the innocent people including some women and
minors. It also demanded arrests of those who threw cow-dung in
the Masjid and necessary legal action against the culprits as they
are still roaming free due to police inaction.
It may be mentioned here that the trouble started in Ratlam when
some mischief-mongers objecting to “Azaan” (call to faithful for
prayers) on loudspeakers from Mohalla Danipura Masjid hurled
cow-dung at about 7 p.m. on September 3 last from the balcony of
an adjacent house to desecrate the place of worship and hurt the
religious feelings of Muslims in the holy month of Ramzan. Despite
forthwith complaint to police no action was taken by it for
complete three hours after which communal frenzy erupted. Soon,
thereafter, curfew was unnecessarily clamped in the affected areas
and police took onus on itself to teach Muslims a lesson and
thereby allegedly indulged in one-sided police-action.
Meanwhile, in Bhopal Shahar Qazi Maulana Syed Mohammad Fazil Qasmi
while delivering his Eid sermon from the pulpit of Eidgah on
Saturday narrated the heart-wrenching woes of the Muslims of
riot-hit Ratlam whom he visited in a delegation headed by him a
day earlier. The delegation met Ratlam Qazi Khursheed Ali and
other prominent members of the community and had detailed
discussions with them.
Delivering the sermon in an emotionally charged and chocked voice
Maulana Fazil said that actually it was no Hindu-Muslim riot in
Ratlam city but the rioters were the maintainers of law and order
who forgot their duties and went berserk to unleash terror. It is
no irony that peace enforcers became demon while ransacking
Muslims’ homes and picked up men and minors to send them to jail.
They did not even spare aged men, women and children who became
victims of their wrath while broken limbs and bruised body parts
bore testimony to police’s barbaric action which in the end left
them to writhe in agonizing pains, he moaned. He said that he was
informed that over 500 members of the community, most of whom were
innocent and minors, were incarcerated in police-action.
Tears welled up in the eyes of Maulana Fazil as he narrated what
he saw without taking the name of Ratlam city or the police, who
perpetuated the untold misery on Muslims. The huge assemblage of
over 1000,000 people present at the packed to capacity Eidgah and
even overflowing heard the Bhopal Shahar Qazi in rapt silence with
a twitching in their hearts over the happenings their
co-religionists had to undergo on the intervening night of
September 3-4 and the following day after cow-dung was hurled from
the balcony of an adjacent house in a Masjid of the town. He said
the entire Muslim community in the city was writhing in pain after
one-sided police-action while the district police maintained that
it had done nothing abnormal.
Shahar Qazi said that he had gone to Ratlam with a delegation to
appeal the aggrieved Ratlam Muslims to change their decision and
celebrate Eid traditionally with offering Namaz-e-Eid-ul-Fitr at
the Eidgah as it would not be a good gesture not to celebrate.
However, seeing their pitiable plight and listening to the
people’s grouse against police’s severe excesses on the community
members during and after the violence, he could not gather courage
to request Ratlam Shahar Qazi Khursheed Ali to call off the
decision of not celebrating Eid in the traditional manner. It is a
very sad moment that in some parts of the Madhya Pradesh state,
which has be known as “Aman Ka Tapu” (Island of Peace), Muslims
feeling insecure from law enforcing agencies unanimously gave up
the plan to offer the traditional Namaz-e-Eid-ul-Fitr at Eidgah
and decided to offer it at local mosques, he bemoaned.
He said that during the day-long visit of Ratlam city wailing and
weeping women-folk jostled with each other to narrate their woes
of police atrocities on them to the delegation. He said men and
women in the eighties and nineties and minors also had to bear the
brunt of police’s ruthless terror as Muslims ran helter-skelter to
save their skin. However, hardly anybody could run to safety as
police laid siege and surrounded their houses from all exit
points. The police became marauders as they vandalized homes and
shops while smashing and overturning all utility household items
such as refrigerators, TV sets, washing machines, cupboards,
utensils etc. They also smashed mirrors, window-panes and wooden
doors in a fit of anger, Shahar Qazi lamented. The tell-tale
scenario which he and other members of the delegation saw saddened
them to the core, he added.
Expressing deep concern over the incident, he appealed Muslims to
restrain themselves from being provoked in any circumstances.
Without naming the Babari Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi dispute he also
appealed Muslims to accept the impending verdict gracefully and
maintain peace in all circumstances. He cautioned Muslims about
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) message of never to indulge in oppression,
tyranny and outrage as it leads humanity towards self-destruction
and keeps them away from seeking the blessings from Almighty
Allah. He recalled that the Prophet had said if Muslims indulge in
tyranny against non-Muslims then he would plead the case of the
latter rather than the former.
The Muslims of Ratlam narrated in graphic details the mayhem
unleashed by police on them and showed the wounds they sustained
in the police-action to the delegation. They alleged that a police
ASI even urinated in a mosque. The delegation saw cow-dung was
still sticking to the walls, pillars, windows and floor of the
Masjid. This Masjid is deserted and no Namaz is being held there
and as such the cow-dung dirt is in its place. Some other Masjids
are also deserted as Muslims fearing arrests are not venturing out
of their homes.
Tablighi Jamaats (Groups of people working among Muslims calling
them to path of Allah) from Bhopal, Gango in Uttar Pradesh and
Godhra in Gujarat from Ratlam railway station along with local
Muslims observing “Etakaaf” (staying voluntarily in Masjids for
last 10 days in Ramzan month) were picked up from Masjids and
beaten up ruthlessly. Bhopal Jamaat was, however, let off at the
intervention of Madhya Pradesh Director General of Police S. K.
Raut. Later on the other two Jamaats along with three local
persons observing “Etakaaf” were released but not before they were
beaten up black-and-blue.
Apart from Shahar Qazi the delegation comprised of Adv. Sajid
Siddiqui, national vice president of Social Democratic Party of
India; Masood Ahmad, secretary, & Abdul Wahid Naqvi (Haris), vice
president, Coordination Committee for Indian Muslims Madhya
Pradesh unit; Dr. Mohammad Mubarak Khan, a medical practitioner,
and journalists Mushahid Saeed Khan & Ansar-ul-Hasan.
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Police has maintained a defiant posture
blaming Ratlam Muslims for the whole episode while charging them
with indulgence in use of fire-arms, loot and arson. The Ratlam
Superintendent of Police Dr. Mayank Jain reportedly told the
delegation led by the Shahar Qazi that it is Muslims who initiated
the attack and went berserk and fired at the members of other
community. When pointed out the beating up of Muslim women Dr.
Jain claimed that the police did not even look towards them.
The position was so grim Dr. Jain claimed, that police resorted
only to air fire to control the situation and later cane charged
but did not fire at the mob when a group of people set afire a
number of vehicles. While Muslims claim that over 500 members of
the community are under arrest, police has, however, officially
stated that only 132 persons are under custody.
Inspector of Ujjain Range Pawan Jain has reportedly said that it
did not behoove a community to support the goonda elements in its
midst. Those who have been arrested were actively involved in
flaring up violence and there is strong evidence against them, he
It may be stated here that the riots in Ratlam and tension in
Talen town in Ujjain district are only the latest manifestations
of a series of similar communal conflicts in Madhya Pradesh in
recent months. Badavda town in Ratlam district had also simmered
recently but situation was controlled. Begumganj in Raisen and
Nasrullahganj in Sehore district , have had tense days recently.
In Obaidullahganj one person was killed in communal riot in July.
While the spreading, though sporadic, communal incidents have
freshened memories of the conflicts that marked the Ram
Janambhoomi agitation in the early nineties. However, the state
Home Minister Uma Shankar Gupta is not alarmed with these
developments and sees the latest Ratlam flare up as an isolated
incident. In an interview Gupta said that Ratlam incident does not
have any relation with the ongoing movement of Vishva Hindu
Parishad, (VHP), wherein the saffron outfit has claimed that it is
creating awareness among the people about the Ayodhya dispute. He
said that as such there is no possibility of recurrence of such
incidents in the state. However, certain areas which did not have
track record of being communally sensitive may become tense, the
Home Minister said.
This is true and alarming. Nearly half-a-dozen towns in Madhya
Pradesh that witnessed communal tension recently have had no such
history. Earlier, tension had gripped Mandla and Raghogarh on the
occasion of Ram Navami this year. A person was killed in the riot
in Khategaon also in March. Maksi town in Shajapur district had
also been rocked with communal tension in the beginning of the
year when a minor fight between two groups while playing cricket
had led to riot. One person was killed while over half-a-dozen
persons were injured. Curfew had to be imposed in the town.
It may be mentioned here that it is for the second time in the
history of Independent India when Muslims in Madhya Pradesh did
not celebrate Eid in the traditional manner rejoicing the
successful culmination of the month of Ramzan. It may be recalled
here that in the late eighties of the last century Muslims in
Bhopal did not celebrate Eid with pomp and show at the call of the
then Shahar Qazi Syed Abid Ali Wajd-ul-Husaini to protest police
brutalities following a communal flare up in the state capital.
The cloth merchants, usually non-Muslims, were left high and dry
as Muslims did not go for new clothes at the call of the Shahar
Qazi. The cloth merchants, thus, lost business worth crores of
rupees that year.
Meanwhile, it may be pointed out that MPCC had alleged that the
violence which occurred in Ratlam on September 4 was pre-planned
and sponsored. It was the political rehearsal of what a particular
ideology intends to do after the decision on Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri
mosque issue that is expected in this month.
MPCC spokesman KK Mishra in a statement had said, “The manner in
which communal violence spread in whole of Ratlam city after the
two incidents in Danipura and Hakimwada areas proves that it was a
Mishra had sought clarification from the BJP Government in the
State that when the members of Muslim community informed the
police at 7 pm about throwing of cow dung at their Masjid then why
did the police not take action on it till 10 pm? If the incident
was untoward, how come the district collector and Superintendent
of Police were among the rioters and how come the firing was done
in their presence?