Shops belonging to Muslims were set on fire, looted and vehicles torched by the Hindutva groups during Ganapati Visarjan processions in Kukshi town of Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, September 27.
Allegedly three Hindu groups Shirvi Samaj, Patidar Samaj, and Bhausar Saman belonging to three different localities were carrying out their separate ganapati processions and ended up halting at one junction, Patel Chowk via Bus stand.
Competition between groups wanting to reach the destination first resulted in a stampede-like situation in the main market as it cannot accommodate people in large numbers. This further escalated into a scuffle-like situation between the three respective groups.
On receiving the information, Dhar Superintendent of Police Manoj Singh and Collector Priyanka Mishra reached Kukshi and controlled the situation.
The matter which settled for some time took a communal turn when allegedly Hindu groups played provocative songs on DJ and raised communal slogans in front of a mosque late at night leading to friction which led to stone pelting.
9 shops in total were attacked, out of which 4 were set on fire and 5 were looted. Some of them are mobile shops and others are used to sell clothes, all belonging to Muslims.
Other nearby shops remained untouched which mainly belonged to Hindus.
Mohammad Idrees Khan, a resident told Maktoob, “They were already playing songs and dancing outside the mosque and were raising provocative slogans like Topi Wala Jai Shree Bolega and Har Ghar Bhagwa Chhayega.”
Khan said, “A fight occurred between three groups over reaching the destination first and one group among them threw stones at the other and they mistook it coming from the mosque. That’s when they went out of control and started throwing stones at the mosques.”
An eyewitness to the entire incident said, “Their confusion created the ruckus which resulted in arson and taking advantage of it they burnt and looted shops of Muslims.”
“It is always Muslims who bear the brunt, economically and physically during their festival. Thankfully, nobody was hurt,” the witness added.
A local on a request of anonymity said, “Two separate complaints were given one by the residents and the other by a shop owner whose shop and its belongings were set on fire but no FIR has been registered by the police so far.”
As per police officials, a scuffle-like situation occurred during the Ganesh Chaturthi final procession three groups quarrelled over the route and it was settled as police arrived.
“During the Chaturthi celebrations at midnight, some miscreants pelted stones. Miscreants set shops on fire, torched vehicles and looted a mobile shop,” Maktoob learned from a junior police official who responded to the landline of Kukshi police thana of Dhar District.
However, the police didn’t briefly explain the identity of the miscreants and said, “We are examining the situation and action will be taken accordingly.”
Senior police officers didn’t respond to the calls made by Maktoob.
A former councillor turned social worker told Maktoob, “Muslims had no involvement and role in brewing communal tensions, they are being used as scapegoats as always.”
He said, “Without investigation, BJP leaders are pressuring the administration to bulldoze the homes of Muslims alleging that they threw stones at the processions.”
Madhya Pradesh government is infamous for excessively using bulldozers as an extrajudicial tool to punish people accused as “rioters” in any communal violence that takes place in the state.
In April 2022, Khargone district in Madhya Pradesh saw one of the worst communal violence that took the life of one Ibraish Khan and the homes of hundreds of Muslims.
Khargone administration while “investigating” bulldozed the houses and establishments mostly of Muslims to punish the “rioters” following violence during Ram Navami celebrations giving Chief Minister of MP, Shivraj Singh, the title, “Bulldozer Mama”.
An incident similar to Kuskhi, happened in the Ratlam District of MP where a minor Muslim named Sameer was beaten and abused by a mob as he was passing through a Ganapati procession.
Sameer (17) alleged that when he was passing by the procession some people asked him his name.
He said, “As soon as I mentioned the name they started beating me, abused me based on religion, broke my bike, took away the mobile phone and all my money.”
On Sameer’s complaint, Ratlam Police registered an FIR against an unknown person under sections 294, 323, 506 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code at Station Road Police Station.