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Subdued Eid Celebrations in Madhya Pradesh, No Eid prayers at 48 Eidgahs

Muslims offer Eid prayers with black arm-bands to protest police excesses; demand Magisterial probe into Ratlam riots

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:57:36 PM,  Pervez Bari,

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Bhopal: 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 incident.

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 has claimed.

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 well planned.”

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?







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