Khargone: Tribunal fined Muslim boy on BJP leader’s complaint filed 4 months after violence

On 10th April 2022, Khargone city in Madhya Pradesh witnessed anti-muslim violence by Hindutva groups during Ram Navami processions which led to large-scale destruction of government and private property, many injured and one death.

Overwhelmingly Muslims were on the receiving end.

In the following days, the properties of Muslims were demolished as “punishment” by the civic body, while saying they are going after illegal structures. No due proceedings for the demolition of illegal buildings were followed and targeted properties were tied to Muslim leaders or men accused of rioting.

Now five months after the event, per the guidelines of the Supreme Court, the Madhya Pradesh government constituted the first Claims Tribunal in the country to compensate for the damage caused to private and government property by rioters. 

On 14 October, the tribunal gave six judgments ordering a compensation collection of Rs 7.37 lakhs from 50 accused.

“We were both at home the night all this happened. My son is underage, he mostly stays at home. How can a 12-year-old boy cause rioting?”

Kalu Khan

The 12-year-old boy Asif (name changed) has also received a notice wherein he has to pay Rs 2.9 lakh for allegedly damaging public property and his father Kalu Khan a sum of 4.8 lakh for the same within 15 days.

Asif is booked under an FIR filed by Rakesh Gangle, who was on his way home from work at 9 pm when he saw a mob of “50-60” Muslims armed with swords, sticks, stones and glass bottles in his neighbourhood. 

The FIR names 36 Muslims as rioters, but it didn’t name the boy.

But four months after the violence, on 25 August, Rakesh’s neighbour Surujbai Gangle, local BJP leader, filed a claim with the tribunal naming Asif.

Arif was only 11 years and ten months old when the violence happened and received the notice one month after turning 12.

“We both were at home the night all this happened. My son is underage, he mostly stays at home. How can a 12-year-old boy cause rioting? Our neighbour has wrongly registered this FIR. Their daughter-in-law Sunita bai was the one who made sure that the constable reached the right address. She showed him our house. She was also a candidate of the BJP in the Nagar Palika elections. I do not get it as to why they are targeting us,” Kalu Khan told Maktoob.

“We requested in the tribunal that the case should go to the Juvenile court. In their feedback, they said there is nothing in the act about how a minor’s case should or should not be heard by the tribunal,” says Sajid Pathan, the lawyer representing the family in the sessions court.

“When we went to the high court, they asked us to request the session court about how the child is underage and present them the documents. We did what they told us, and when we reached the high court, they rejected our application, said whatever tribunal has ordered is right.”

Section 83 of the IPC states that “Nothing is an offence which is done by a child above seven years of age and under twelve, who has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge of the nature and consequences of his conduct on that occasion.”

Anyhow, according to law, Asif can only be tried by a juvenile justice board.

Asshar Ali Warsi representing Kalu Khan and his son in the High court, told Maktoob how any case in the tribunal does not have any reality and any act coming in the tribunal for the passing or granting of the award needs proceeds of crime.

But in Asif’s case, there is no proceed of crime. And when there is no record of whether he was involved in any activities of rioting, looting, destruction or any crime, then the claim tribunal’s act in this order is against the law.  

“When it comes to the mode of operation regarding this scenario, the claims coming to the tribunal, there is a procedure of investigation first before passing any order or giving out any notice. So till today, at this point, I can say that the claim tribunal has no criteria for investigation. They are giving out names abruptly. The whole procedure of the tribunal is very ambiguous and suspicious. You cannot just give out names saying that this person has committed a crime until and unless there is an FIR against them. And when there is no FIR, there is no ascertainment of the crime. So you cannot give out recovery for damages notice, the same case is with Asif’s order,” Warsi added.

270 people accused of rioting are being tried by a tribunal: 177 Muslims and 93 Hindus.