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Chhattisgarh: Communal Fissures Amidst Festival

Pankaj Singh

Pankaj SinghOct 12, 2021, 04:24 PM IST

Chhattisgarh: Communal Fissures Amidst Festival
The mob also vandalised vehicles during the communal flare-up

Islamists removed and desecrated the Saffron flags that are traditionally installed during the auspicious occasion of Navaratri 

 

In Chhattisgarh, a State  known for calm nature, nothing is calm these days. Amid widespread conversions being carried out in the State, communal violence has gripped Kawardha city. Located about 110 km north of Raipur, Kawardha witnessed incidents of stone-pelting and arson. There is stillness on the streets, and people are forced to live in panic in their homes. The city is badly in the grip of communal tension; people  affiliated with some organisations are being picked up from their homes at night. There is an atmosphere of fear and panic everywhere. Stone pelting is taking place in Adarsh Nagar, Thakur Para, Kotwali, Darri Para areas. All this is happening when the Chief Minister of the State is busy scoring political brownie points in Lucknow.

It all started when on October 3, the process of replacing the flags with new ones at Maa Karma Chowk, Lohra Road was being completed by some members of the Hindu community. Meanwhile, some Muslim youths of the area opposed it and pulled down the flag from the street pole. At the same time, frenzied religious slogans were also raised by the mob comprising Muslim youths. When some people from the Hindu community tried to oppose the incident, a fight broke out between the two sides. After this, gradually, the tension took over the whole city. The tension between the two sides has escalated to such an extent that even a peace meeting held by the police has failed. So far, 200 people have been reported injured in the clashes within the city. Many people are reported to be seriously injured. Seeing the deteriorating condition of the city, Section 144 has been imposed by the administration and internet services have also been stopped within Kawardha and the two neighbouring districts.

According to the information received, the Hindu community traditionally changes the flags of religious symbols installed in the city with new flags every year on the occasion of Navratri. But this time, the Muslim community opposed the installation of the flag and misbehaved by taking off the flag.   

Partisan Policing

On condition of anonymity, some officials informed that the Muslim community has started the dispute to prove its supremacy in this peaceful region. The irony is that the police responsible for stopping the violence and restoring law and order are adopting a partisan attitude. Not only are small groups of youths from the Muslim community waving swords and weapons in front of the police, but there have also been incidents of uniformed policemen pelting stones at Hindu community at many places.

In a video viral on social media, it can be clearly seen that people of the Hindu community are being pelted with stones by uniformed policemen in the Adarsh Nagar area. Lathi charge and tear gas shells have been lobbied several times by the policemen towards the Hindu crowd in the last few days. Along with this, about 25 people belonging to Hindu organisations from different areas of Kawardha have been beaten up black and blue by the police after taking them to the Mungeli police station area.

According to Hindu organisations, people of the Rohingya community have been settling here for the last few years with the administration's involvement, due to which the communal harmony in the city has been disturbed

According to eyewitnesses, after communal tensions escalated on the night of October 3,  Hindus were picked up by the police in a one-sided affair; some of these youths were released the next day on the condition that they would not open their mouths to anyone. There is such a state of panic among those youths that they are not ready to come on camera and accept  anything. There is no news of the whereabouts  of the rest of them yet.

The police is playing a partisan role under political pressure. The extent of its brutality can be seen from the fact that Himanshu, a 12-year-old orphan child who had gone out for some personal work, was brutally beaten up by the police in which his eyes got damaged. 

Rohingyas Being Settled

People of Hindu organisations of the city informed that more than 60 of their workers have been taken away by the police on Wednesday night. No information has been provided by the police so far. Along with arresting the workers of BJP and allied organisations, the administration has also ensured that no outside office-bearer of the opposition party can enter the city. The BJP delegation, which came to meet the victims of violence, has been stopped outside the city itself. The delegation included Leader of Opposition Dharamlal Kaushik, State General Secretary and MLA Narayan Chandel, former minister and MLA Brijmohan Agarwal, Dr Krishnamurthy Bandhi. The members of the BJP delegation said that the people of the Rohingya community are being settled in the State for the last few years under a conspiracy; legal documents are also being provided to them by the administration. This is the main reason behind the growing communal animosity in the peaceful State. 

It should be noted that the area of Kawardha where this incident has happened falls in the assembly constituency seat of Mohammad Akbar, the only Muslim community minister in the Congress Government of the State. According to Hindu organisations, people of the Rohingya community have been settling here for the last few years with the administration's involvement, due to which the communal harmony in the city has  been disturbed. 

As far as this incident is concerned, the role of the administration in this entire matter has been one-sided. Not only were the police caught red-handed pelting stones at the Hindu community, but on Wednesday afternoon, they also forcibly removed the flag put up by the Hindu community under their supervision. In view of the growing protests against the incident, the Hindu community flag has been re-imposed by the police at the same place in the dark of night. 

Throughout this incident, the police of the Baghel Government under political pressure, has been  shamelessly pursing Muslim appeasement policies of their political masters. 

 

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