Communal strife may force feted MP artists to shift to US

  • Ritesh Mishra and Punya Priya Mitra, Hindustan Times, Bagh, Dhar
  • Updated: Jan 25, 2016 17:07 IST
The Khatri family, pioneers in the field of Bagh printing, has won seven national and international awards. (Ritesh Mishra/HT Photo)

One of India’s most prominent families in the field of art is considering shifting shop to the United States after facing attacks amid the communal violence that broke out here earlier this month.

Yusuf Khatri’s family, which produces and exports award-winning Bagh prints, is thinking of buying a one-way ticket out of the country over a series of violent incidents. While Yusuf’s brother and nephew were attacked by miscreants on January 6, attempts were made to set their factory afire on the night of January 9.

The Khatri family, pioneers in the field of Bagh printing, has won seven national and international awards between themselves.

Stating that this was the first time in 60 years that he felt scared to step out onto the streets of Bagh, Yusuf said their attackers were still at large despite cases being lodged in both the incidents.

The violence in the area was sparked by an eve-teasing incident on January 6, which rapidly escalated into clashes between two communities.

The Khatri family was not the only one in town to suffer. Four other shops belonging to Muslims were looted and burnt as clashes erupted in the Madhya Pradesh town.

Sitting with his family outside the factory, Yusuf recalled the fateful day his relatives were attacked. “About a dozen people surrounded my brother Mohammad Dawood and nephew Abdul Kareem near the nullah in the evening, when they were returning from the masjid after namaz. They attacked them with rods and swords, and left them for dead,” he said.

Luckily for the two, a passerby spotted them and called up the police. A complaint was lodged, and the critically-injured people were rushed to Dahod in Gujarat for treatment. While Dawood suffered serious injuries to the head, Kareem’s right hand had been torn open — three fractures lining it due to desperate attempts at staving off fatal blows. Incidentally, Dawood had received a national award for his work just a few days before that.

Mohammed Bilal Khatri, Yusuf’s son, said he smells something fishy in the episode. “We identified some people involved in the assault. They are all members of local right-wing units, but are yet to be arrested,” he added.

However, Bagh in-charge TI Rajendra Narwaria said some suspects have been arrested, and the remaining will be taken into custody soon. The Khatri family feels that the attack on the factory could have been prevented if the police had taken swift action.

The cratftsman said the family plans to move to a plot of land overlooking a river in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as flowing water is a much-needed factor in the manufacture of Bagh print.

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