“No explanation,” say Muslim employees sacked from work during Khargone violence

Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone city witnessed an anti-Muslim violence by Hindutva groups during the Ram Navami procession in April 2022. Photo: Meer Faisal

Hours after anti-Muslim violence in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone during the Ram Navami procession, three contractual workers and their supervisor — all Muslims — were laid off by the city authorities for allegedly “spreading rumours”.

Indore Range Commissioner Dr Pavan Sharma publicised about it to the press. Chirag Idris, Masoom Kala and Ijraeed Raool are the contractual workers and Akbar Rafiq Khan is their supervisor.

But even after 10 days, the workers are unable to find an “explanation” from their senior oficials about the action. All they recieved was just a WhatsApp message informing that they are removed from work.

“I have been terminated. My only mistake was that I followed the orders of the Nagarpalika Health Officer Prakash Chitey,” Akbar Rafiq, a supervisor of Khargone Nagarpalika, told Maktoob.

Although the news reports say the supervisor is “suspended”, there are no details available to confirm the action against him. Health officer Chitey told Maktoob he doesn’t know the reason of “termination” and only the Chief Medical Officer knows it.

CMO Priyanka Patel didn’t pick Maktoob’s call to make enquiries about the action.

According to Rafiq, he was assigned to clean the roads after the Ram Navami celebrations. “At around 9 pm, I was ordered to bring some men for work. We were in Talaab chowk that whole night and till the next day as it was ordered by the HO. There was shortage of workers. I was asked to get the Nagarpalika official van and accumulate workers and bring them to the Nagarpalika Head Office,” says Rafiq.

“There were three main spots wherein I asked my workers to gather and I picked them up. One of the spots was Allah waali Masjid, where the Ram Navami Rally had passed and the stone pelting took place the day before.”

“Three of my workers were on the bike as the van was full. They were stopped by the police at the spot and their pictures and videos were clicked and then they were let go.”

Chirag Irdis, one of the workers removed from job, is worried as he was the sole bread earner ih his family.

“I can’t understand my mistake,” Irdis told Maktoob.

“We were at the head office and the CMO and HO told us to sit in the town hall. Suddenly the police van comes, treats us as criminals and takes all of us to the police station where we say for 3 hours for no reason at all”.

Although Rafiq tried to talk to Chitey, he either not receiving the calls or just trying to ignore the whole topic.

“We are suffering, we want our jobs back. We haven’t done anything wrong. It wasn’t our mistake that our HO sent us to work even though a curfew was imposed,” Chirag added.

So far, 41 cases have been registered in connection with the violence and 144 people were taken into custody, according to police. The police crackdown is widely criticised for targetiing Muslims and demolishing buildings owned by Muslims.