Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh Police have arrested five persons who were allegedly part of a group that tried to damage a mosque at Dorana village in Mandsaur district Tuesday.
The incident occurred when the group, believed to have comprised hundreds of members of Right-wing organisations such as the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal, was taking out a rally in the village, about 20 km from district headquarters Mandsaur, to create awareness about a fund-collection campaign for the proposed Ram temple at Ayodhya.
Another fund-collection drive for the temple resulted in communal tension at Indore Tuesday as the participants of a rally allegedly tried to damage a mosque and read the Hanuman Chalisa outside the premises.
According to police, the incident resulted in stone-pelting, which injured some participants of the rally, and shots being fired. Police have registered four FIRs in the incident and rounded up 27 people as part of the investigation.
Scores of fund-collection rallies for the Ram temple have been taken out across Madhya Pradesh over the last six days but they have caused communal tension only in the Malwa region, which comprises sensitive districts such as Indore, Ujjain, Mandsaur and Dhar that have a long history of communal disturbances.
Most rallies were taken out without permission from the respective district administration in violation of pandemic restrictions, a senior police officer said. Instructions have been issued not to allow rallies without written permission, the officer added.
Instances of violence at the rallies have led the state’s ruling BJP and the Congress to trade charges. While the latter has accused the police of partisan action in an incident reported from Ujjain Friday, the BJP has accused the Congress of appeasement politics.
For Ram temple
A Ratlam-based RSS member said the vehicle rallies planned from 25-30 December were part of an elaborate exercise to raise awareness and funds for the temple.
He said the rallies will be followed by small social gatherings after which activists will call on prominent citizens. The actual fund-raising will begin from 14 January.
According to the RSS member, the VHP was the convener of the rallies and other events because it played the main role in the Ramjanmabhoomi movement, which culminated in the razing of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.
Many instances of tensions
In the Mandsaur incident, a group carrying saffron flags and raising slogans blocked a narrow lane near a local mosque, with some climbing on top of it, according to viral videos from the scene.
Speaking to ThePrint, an officer from the Nai Abadi police station said the group also damaged a few houses belonging to members of the minority community some distance away. However, the officer said nobody was injured because the residents had fled to agriculture fields.
While five persons have been arrested, more are being identified from videos of the incident, the official said.
Those arrested, the officer added, have been booked under sections related to rioting, criminal intimidation and obscene acts.
Mandsaur Superintendent of Police Siddharth Chaudhary said the police immediately ordered those who had climbed on to the mosque to immediately get down. There was no damage to the structure, he added, also pointing out that no permission had been taken for the rally.
The rally at Chandankhedi village in Indore, meanwhile, resulted in skirmishes after participants allegedly tried to damage a mosque. The participants allegedly recited Hanuman Chalisa outside the mosque, leading to stone-pelting that injured some of them. Police said a few rounds were fired at the participants too but no one was injured.
Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Yogesh Deshmukh said four FIRs have been registered in connection with the violence at Chandankhedi, adding that “police will act in a nonpartisan manner”.
He said 27 people have been rounded up in connection with the stone-pelting and firing, and those who climbed atop the mosque are being identified from videos filmed at the scene. He said the rally had been taken out with permission and participants were accompanied by police.
In neighbouring Ujjain, the authorities have invoked the National Security Act against four persons who were among more than a dozen who allegedly threw stones at a fund-collection rally in Muslim-dominated Begum Baug Friday. The administration also pulled down a house from where stones were allegedly pelted.
A delegation of Congress MLAs met the chief secretary and the DGP Tuesday, alleging that police are acting in a partisan manner in the Ujjain case. “The administration acted unconstitutionally by acting only against members of the minority community who were provoked by raising slogans against their religion (Islam). Some were booked under the National Security Act (NSA),” read the memorandum, submitted by former ministers Jaivardhan Singh and Sajjan Singh Varma and party MLAs.
The memorandum demanded that the NSA charges be revoked and those responsible for the disturbances arrested.
Home Minister Narottam Mishra, meanwhile, alleged that the Congress’ demand for an investigation into the Ujjain incident was part of its “minority appeasement and polarisation politics”. He said there was footage as well as photographs to prove stones were hurled from some particular houses.