On whose orders did MP police demolish a Muslim daily wager’s home?
Visuals of a JCB ripping down the modest dwelling, is perhaps to remind the community of the states unlimited powers
By Karuna John
‘Jahan se pathar aaenge, wahin se toh nikale jaaenge’ (the evictions will happen where the stones came from), Madhya Pradesh’s Home Minister Narottam Mishra’s words of justification for the demolition of a poor Muslim man’s house, are not a sign of things to come. It is a sign of how things already are in the Bharatiya Janata Party-run state. The minister’s words are also a clear indication that the state government’s attitude and approach towards Muslims, especially if they belong to an economically backward section. The demolition is a clear act of instant punishment for the Muslim man, even as allegations of ‘stone peling’ at a mob, as communal clashed broke out in the Ujjain neighbourhood, are yet to be investigated.
The visuals of a JCB claw ripping down the dwelling, which just seems like a brick and mortar shanty, is also perhaps a strong message to the entire community, that any attempts to dissent, resist communal slurs and attacks, will be dealt with strongly by the state powers. The state’s Home Minister, to who the state Police also reports had confidently issued the ‘warning’ in response to media’s questions on the demolition drive being carried out in Ujjain at the Muslim home.
According to an extensive report in the Indian Express, it was the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), which allegedly raised provocative slogans while it marched through Begum Bagh area, which then resulted in the alleged stone pelting. This set the Ujjain district administration to launch its demolition action in the Muslim-dominated locality on December 26. The victim was one Abdul Rafeeq, whose house was razed, and his 19 member family rendered homeless.
The family is reported to have found temporary shelter in one room of the home of their neighbour Meera Bai, a Hindu. She bravely agrees that the police had no reason to pull down Rafeeq’s two-storey home. He’s a daily wager, who took over 35 years to build the house, on the small plot allotted to him by the government. It took the powerful machine, powered by the state administration less than 35 minutes to pull it down to rubble.
According to the IE, Rafeeq says the “police were looking for two women, identified as Heena and Yasmeen,” as they were allegedly seen on video pelting stones at the BJYM rally “from Meera’s roof on December 25”. However the cops “realised Meera was a Hindu,”, and turned on Rafeeq’s house next door. His family, including 10 children, were left homeless in a matter of minutes.
The IE stated that Meera accepts that Heena, her tenant, was seen hurling stones, but added that the woman “fled” that night itself. Meera begged the authorities not to raze her house when they came the next day. She recalled that they then left her home and went to her neighbours, “Mere ghar se nikle toh udhar ghus gaye (They left my house only to enter that one).”
Yasmeen, a mother of two who also works as a daily wager, was been arrested and charged with attempt to murder. Seventeen others have been booked, 10 of them under the stringent NSA, reported the IE. According to news reports, three FIRs have been registered — by Abdul Shakir, a resident of Begum Bagh; by the BJYM’s Navdeep Singh Raghuvanshi; and by a trust of the nearby Bharat Mata Temple, however, the police say they have evidence only against residents of Begum Bagh so far.
District Collector Asheesh Singh, has said the demolition drive was meant to hurt “criminals who resort to such acts of stone-pelting” economically. He added that while Heena and Yasmeen were indeed pelting stones from Meera’s terrace, Yasmeen lived at Rafeeq’s house, reported IE. When asked why no action had been taken on the complaint against the BJYM, the DC said, “The residents claimed that the clashes erupted as those in the rally hurled abuses and chanted offensive slogans, but they have not been able to come up with any concrete evidence. We are ready to take action if any video proving it is brought to our notice.”
On its part, the state government has claimed that this “major action was taken against the land mafia in the entire state” against “illegal encroachment on government land”
However, Rafeeq has clearly stated that his house stood on a small plot he was allotted by the government itself. Meanwhile, the police has booked nearly 100 people in two districts of Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday after communal tensions flared up a day ago following two separate attempts by Hindutva groups to damage Muslim shrines. Prohibitory orders have also been invoked in the affected areas. According to a report in the Hindustan Times, Madhya Pradesh police have claimed that “no damage was done to the shrine” adding that “96 people were booked across two districts and 28 arrested.” Mandsaur superintendent of police Siddharth Chaudhary was quoted, “there was no damage to the shrine. The police immediately swung into action and removed those who were atop the shrine,” Four FIRs for alleged desecration of a religious place and alleged vandalism were lodged, two separate FIRs were lodged by “Hindu groups against Muslims, alleging they were abused and attacked”
The lawlessness in the State calls for accountability from both the police and the Home Minister. With no thorough investigation of the alleged stone pelting at the mob and instant demolition, the police have grossly violated section 23 (prevention of commission of offence and public nuisance and failure to collect information affecting public peace) of the Indian Police Act, 1894.
The Police have also arbitrarily acted by taking swift action against Rafeeq and his entire family leaving them homeless but not looking into the BJYM’s march that allegedly raised provocative slogans through the area of Begum Bagh. Section 31 of the Police act mandates the men in uniform to maintain order on public roads, streets during any kind of procession but it failed to do so. The police’s inaction during the BYJM’s march also attracts sections 129 (failure to disperse an unlaw assembly likely to affect public tranquillity) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Madhya Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act, 1956 also provides one-month time to the owner of the property before the Commissioner can issue a demolition notice under section 309 (4) of the Act. But this prerequisite was not followed before pulling down Rafeeq’s house.
In the vandalism and communal unrest reported from rural Indore, eight people were said to be injured during stone pelting. The ”jan jagran rally” was taken out by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) but it is not known yet if they had police permission, and if they were allowed to raise slogans they reportedly did when they passed through the Chandan Khedi village. The Police have confirmed that “some people climbed a Muslim shrine in nearby Gautampura and attempted to damage a part of the structure” they were removed by the police but “an FIR was lodged against unknown people under section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) of Indian Penal Code (IPC).” It is not clear why the FIR does not name miscreants if they had been physically removed by the police themselves. Did the men who allegedly attempted to vandalise and desecrate a place of worship run away from an area that was under strict police’s watch?
Reiterating that “There was no damage to the shrine as police acted swiftly. During violence a motorbike was set afire and a man sustained injuries in a firing incident,” Indore superintendent of police Mahesh Chand Jain, told media persons.
As MP’s Home Minister Narottam Mishra had said, “Jahan se patthar aayenge, wahin se toh nikaale jayenge (They will have to be removed from where the stones came)” such state backed “instant punishment” is likely to add to the communal fires flaring up Madhya Pradesh.
Courtesy : Sabrang