Residents blame inaction for Khargone violence

Published on Apr 13, 2022 01:32 PM IST

At least 95 people have been arrested while Rapid Action Force has also been deployed in the violence-hit area

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan chaired a meeting over the violence. (ANI)
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan chaired a meeting over the violence. (ANI)

Bhopal: A scuffle between members of two communities was reported hours before the violence during a Ram Navami procession in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone, residents said and blamed police inaction for the flaring up of the situation.

Ramesh Gupta, a local shopkeeper, said there was a gathering of over 5,000 people but only 50-60 police personnel were present. He added police dispersed a mob that gathered following the scuffle.

Gupta said later in the evening, an organiser of a procession of 17 tableaus by a Hindu group had an argument with a member of the Muslim community when it was passing by a mosque in the Talab Chowk area. “Songs were playing...and suddenly a few stones were thrown at the procession. People started running and police used canes to disperse the mob. Police also used tear gas shells but the news spread and violence broke out in half a dozen areas,” said Gupta.

Rafique Khan, a local resident, said people were throwing stones and petrol bombs. “Women were crying for help. I have never seen such a tense environment.” He blamed the police’s callousness for the incident

Police superintendent Siddharth Chaudhary denied inaction and said enough police force was available. “The procession was passing very peacefully but a few pelted stones at the procession. Police personnel were also injured in the stone-pelting. We used force and tear gas shells to control the mob. We controlled the situation to an extent in the area but news of the clash created tension in other areas.”

He said around 7 pm on Sunday, the situation was under control at Talab Chowk but clashes were reported from other areas. “I rushed to Sanjay Nagar, where a man, who had a sword in his hand, was following some people to attack them. I stopped him but another man, who was giving cover to him, shot me in my leg.”

Chaudhary said everything will get clear following an inquiry and added some people fuelled tensions.

At least 24 cases have been registered against over 250 people. The government has named retired district judge Shivkumar Mishra as the head of a tribunal constituted to recover the losses. Chief minister Shivraj Singh chaired a meeting over the violence.

At least 95 people have been arrested while Rapid Action Force has also been deployed in Khargone. The demolition of houses and businesses in the aftermath of the violence continued for the third day on Tuesday. Former Congress corporator Aleem Sheikh’s hotel constructed allegedly illegally was demolished along with a bakery and two other houses. Rohit Keswani, a police officer, said Sheikh was not accused of stone-throwing and arson but was found allegedly involved in flaring up tensions. “We are investigating his role.”

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