, by DR. M. IQBAL SIDDIQUI
He was on his house’s roof, when he heard people shouting and running for shelter towards their houses. “There is riot in the city,” someone shouted. Abdul Ghani’s house was in the Keer Khera mohalla of Chittore Garh. He thought his house was safe, as he had enmity with none. There were two more houses in the mohalla which belonged to Muslims.
Suddenly he saw a crowd of fanatic people shouting slogans against Muslims heading towards his house. Now he was a bit anxious, as he had an adolescent daughter. He went downstairs and closed the main gate of his house and bolted it thoroughly. Then he called his wife and daughter to the inner room and closed it firmly. He heard the sound of breaking of the main gate and in no time the rioters were on the door of the inner room in which he had hidden himself with his daughter and wife. The door could not resist the bumping and it fell open. Abdul Ghani now gathered his whole courage and tried to stop the hooligans from entering the room but he was hit by a knife in his belly, again and again, till he fell unconscious. Now his wife Bismillah tried to defend her daughter but she was beaten by sticks so badly that she had multiple fractures. Now the girl was there, unprotected and afraid. They dragged her and brought out to the street. There were about 40 people who ripped her clothes to make her stark necked. The intention was obvious. A few people of the mohalla felt ashamed as the girl belonged to their locality. They came to her rescue and the girl was saved except for some bruises on her body.
The riot broke in the city on the day of Holi. It was not all of a sudden, but well designed by the communal forces. The Police and administration didn’t take any action for complete four hours. The miscreants burnt, ransacked and looted the shops of Muslims freely for four hours. The Police Control room happens to be only 30 feet away from the Dargah of Sufi saint Hazrat Chal-Phir Shah, where all the menace was going on and the rioters were selectively burning and looting the shops belonging to the Muslim community. Even if there had been a shop of a Hindu among the Muslim shops, it was left out and only Muslims’ shops were set afire. The shameless nuisance continued even after curfew was imposed in the city.
Though it is commendable on the part of the Police that they prevented any direct clash between the communities, but just after gaining control, they started arresting innocent people from both sides in the name of ‘rapid action’ till the number reached to about 45. Most of the detainees had nothing to do with the riot. The actual culprits, against whom FIRs have been lodged with their names, are still roaming about fearlessly and threatening the victims, even after one and a half month. According to the local residents, the offenders belong to the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party and are fully protected.
During this unfortunate riot, about 60 shops, belonging to the Muslims were burnt, damaged or looted. According to the survey done by the administration, the loss amounted to Rs. 63 lakhs, but according to local people, it amounts to about Rs. 85 lakhs to one crore. Till now only eight persons have been paid Rs. 50,000/- each and 49 have been offered Rs. 2000/- to 5000/- in lieu of their damaged properties worth lakhs of rupees. What a joke? The communal forces must be rejoicing on the success of their plan to pull down the Muslims economically. Most of the victims have refused to accept such a meagre help from the government.
The District Chittore Garh of Rajasthan has been in the clutches of the fascist and communal forces for a year. Recently in December, 2007, on the very next day of Eidul Azha, six villages of Kapasan Tehsil of the district underwent fierce riots in which several acres of fields with the crop either awaiting to be reaped or already reaped and dumped there, were set ablaze, 19 tube wells were destroyed, hundreds of metres of PVC pipes were burnt, a tractor and a motor cycle as well as quintals of fodder and manure were set on fire. Here too is the same story. FIR was lodged against 51 people, but not a single person was arrested from among the chief culprits who are threatening the plaintiffs and amusing that the latter can do nothing against them.
Recently a delegation of Rajasthan Muslim Forum (a united forum of the Muslim organisations of the state) headed by Er. Muhammad Salim (State President JIH and member Forum) visited the affected areas of the district. The villagers of Raghunath Pura, Umand, Hathiyana etc., informed the delegation that the culprits are enjoying the shield provided by the ruling party. They also complained against the District Collector P. L. Agrawal, Kapasan Tehsildar Himmat Singh and sub-section officer Manveer Singh Atri of being communal and biased against the Muslim community and said that due to these officers the culprits could not be nabbed till now.
Here (Kapasan Tehsil) also, the compensation amount being given to the sufferers is very small which they have refused to accept. Tehsildar Himmat Singh is reportedly forcing them to accept the amount and threatening that they will be charged falsely with serious allegations if they refuse to take the compensation.
The overall situation is that the district is fully in the hold of the communal and fascist forces, who consider themselves above the law. They are pretty confident, that no action will be taken against them. Another tragedy is that the Opposition party Congress didn’t play any role in bringing the rioters behind the bars or in seeking justice for the victims. Moreover, some members of the party were found to be indulged in the December 07 riots of the Kapasan Tehsil.
The Rajasthan Muslim Forum has demanded from the government to arrest the culprits without delay, release the innocent people, give away the appropriate compensations for the losses and take stern action against the officers who are guilty of saving the criminals and discriminating communally.