Riot cases in Madhya Pradesh are on the rise, police records show.
There were 2,205 riot cases registered in 2015, 355 more than in 2014. Riot cases are those registered under Sections 147-151 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for rioting and unlawful assembly of five or more people despite being commanded to disperse.
Western districts of Neemuch, Khandwa and Mandsaur in Malwa region, in particular, accounted for the biggest jump in such cases.
In April last year, violence erupted in Neemuch after miscreants allegedly threw stones at a Hindu procession on Hanuman Jayanti. Twenty people were injured in the incident and several residential buildings, vehicles and shops were set afire.
“The police are keeping a strict vigil in the district to avoid any untoward incident that could disturb communal harmony and peace,” said police superintendent Manoj Singh, adding that those disobeying orders to assemble in large groups were being booked.
Another senior police official on condition of anonymity said opium smugglers too intentionally flare communal tensions. “Opium smugglers many times deliberately flare up communal riots in the region to get the police force engaged in controlling the riots while they easily smuggle opium out of the district,” said the official.
In addition to Neemuch, Khandwa too is grappling with increasing incidents of riots. The number of riot cases registered increased from 39 in 2014 to 54 in 2015, but police attribute the rise to their increased vigilance.
“The rise in the figures in the district is due to pre-emptive actions taken by the police to avoid any incident of communal tension,” said Khandwa police superintendent MS Sikarwar. “There were no incidents of communal riots as police have taken significant actions such as forming committees comprising both police officials and members of civil society to make sure the peace and communal harmony prevails in the district.”
Western districts are not the only ones to see a rise in such cases. In Jabalpur, 96 riot cases were registered in 2015 up from 69 in 2014.
A church in the district was vandalised in March last year allegedly by Right-wing-groups Dharma Sena and Bajrang Dal. The saffron groups were supposedly infuriated over allegations that the church’s father was converting Hindus to Christianity.
However, not all riot cases can be attributed to communal incidents.
Jabalpur police superintendent Ashish said the rise in cases last year was because of local body elections, during which Sections 147-151 are used to prevent disturbances during voting.
“There have been a few incidents of communal tension, but it would be wrong to generalise,” he said. “Police always take care of the concerns of minorities and ensure security of every citizen living in the district, irrespective of his/her religion.”
He assured that strict action is taken against anyone attempting to disrupt peace.
RIOT CASES (under Section 147 to 151 of IPC)
District 2014 2015
Khandwa 39 54
Neemuch 17 51
Ratlam 38 49
Gwalior 108 96
Burhanpur 8 19
Indore 82 95
Bhopal 62 71
Ujjain 66 71