The National Minority Commission (NMC) firmly rejected the assertions given by several ministers of the BJP ruled Madhya Pradesh government that SIMI activists were behind the riots in Indore.
In a shocking revelation the NMC Chairman Mohammad Shafi Qureshi, a former Governor of Madhya Pradesh, said that riots were pre-planned. He was on the visit to riot affected areas of Indore along with two other Commission Members – Harcharan Singh Joshi and Lama Chosphel Zopta – to report on the communal riots that took place on July 3 and 4 and claimed seven lives.
On the assertion given by the state ministers, Qureshi said that such assertions were 'fabrication' and helped in diverting attention from the real issues.
"Why did it take place on Friday? Because a group congregates for prayers and they can be made the target", he stated. To a query on the role of the police, Qureshi said, "They do not appear(ed) biased or lethargic. However they could have acted in a better manner in containing the riots once it had started".
Regarding the compensation to the victims it was told that besides what the Madhya Pradesh government gives, the Centre would provide Rs 3 lakh each to the kin of the deceased. Qureshi said that it was up to the state government to call for a judicial probe into the riots.
Two Muslim politicians exchange abuses, insults
In a shameful display, two politicians of Muslim community hurled insults and abuses and even resorted to violence as they vied to outdo each other in impressing the Minorities Commission delegation when it visited Juna Risala in Indore.
Congress woman Corporator Sarwar Khan and the BJP leader Saddam Pathan were the protagonists in the shameful performance that left the Muslim community red-faced. The sparring continued long after the delegation had left. Both Sarwar and Pathan reached Sadar Bazar police station along with their supporters. Worst, here too heated exchanges were witnessed before the police had to intervene to calm the fighting leaders and asked them to better go home. According to eyewitnesses Sarwar's son infuriated at his mother being insulted slapped Pathan while others maintained that the BJP leader also retaliated and slapped Sarwar who then pushed him back. Sarwar maintained that Pathan had abused here verbally and also slapped and jostled her.
Shots fired by both civilians and cops: residents
The residents of Juna Risala have alleged that arm shots were fired by both the civilians and cops during the shootout, after the VHP sponsored band call against the revocation of land allotted to the Amarnath shrine led to communal clashes that claimed seven lives.
Two youths Rizwan and Zeeshan were killed during the firing that took place shortly after Friday prayers. Similarly, the residents of Khajrana where four people were killed in firing have equally accused the civilians and cops. The resident charged that the firing at Risala was preceded by totally unprovoked stone pelting by the other side after Friday prayers. Many complained that the police acted in a very biased manner all through the period of violence. A female relative of Zeeshan – who was killed – claimed that the family had captured images of police targeting minority community members on their mobiles.
"But we are afraid that the police will book us on trumped up charges if we show them the clippings," she said. Almost same thing had happened to 'other witnesses', it was told.
Private weapons used, who fired?
The people admitted to Mayur hospital (which Mohammed Shafi Qureshi visited) have both bullet and pellet injuries. Since the police don't use a double barrel gun this indicated that private weapons were also used in the firing.
A middle aged man, who does not wish to be recognised charged that most of the shots were fired from privately-owned weapons and not by the police. People alleged that the district administration had issued more than 500 gun licenses to members of particular community. "It was snots fired from these weapons that led to the deaths", a man who claimed to be an eyewitness said.