At least three separate incidents of communal violence took place in Madhya Pradesh owing to violent rallies by Hindu right-wing groups. In all three of them, the pro- Hindutva groups rallied through either Muslim-dominated or communally sensitive areas to create awareness for collecting donation towards the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Police now claim that the situation is under control, that a policeman has been suspended and people, mostly Muslims, have been booked.
Two mosques were attacked and dozens of homes of Muslims were burnt by mobs carrying saffron flags in three districts of the State – Ujjain, Mandsaur and Indore.
Muslims, aggrieved at police action, claim the violence was started by the rally members and that the violence took place in the presence of the police.
The first incident was reported in Ujjain district on December 25. Members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Youth Wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) organised a bike rally to gather funds for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. When the rally was passing through Ujjain’s Muslim dominated Begum Bagh neighbourhood, members of the BJYM provoked residents by abusing and taunting them. The provocation led to stone-pelting and in the ensuing clashes, multiple vehicles were damaged, one person sustained serious injuries and eleven people were injured.
The following day, however, the Ujjain collector invoked the stringent National Security Act (NSA) against four Muslim Begum Bagh residents Ayaz Mohammad, Wasim Aslam, Shadab Akram and Altu Aslam. The administration also demolished the three-storey building of a resident of Begum Bagh, from where the stones were allegedly pelted, citing encroachment.
Another incident was reported from Indore’s Chandankheri of Depalpur panchayat where the minaret of a mosque was vandalized and a house was burnt down. An eyewitness of the incident, Shakir Patel, said, “A mob of around 500 people entered the village with policemen and vandalised the minaret of Eidgah’s mosque, chanting “Ek hi Jhanda ek hi naam, Jai Shree Ram, Jai Shree Ram.”
He claimed that all this happened in the presence of police. “When local residents resisted and began hurling stones, the mob dispersed before returning with reinforcements and attacking a house on the outskirts of the village,” Shakir added.
In Dorana village of Mandsaur district, a rally of an estimated 5,000 workers of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) not only vandalised the minaret of a mosque but also around 50 houses in the village, with no effective intervention by the police. Villagers claimed that a day before the rally, they had petitioned the Superintendent of Police, Mandsaur and sought protection, citing messages allegedly circulating on social media which called “Hindu brothers” to teach “descendants of Aurangzeb” a lesson for allegedly stopping a Hindu rally from passing through Dorana.