After Communal Tensions in Chhattisgarh's Kawardha, Cops Book Over 90 People
In all, seven FIRs have been lodged against both the communities naming over 90 people.
On Sunday, 3 October, locals present near Loahara Naka Chowk in Chhattisgarh's Kawardha witnessed an altercation.
A local, Durgesh Dewangan got into a verbal tussle at the area with some people for name-calling and religious taunts, which ended in him being beaten by the same people.
Two days later, this incident turned into a riot that spread across the town.
In the wake of the communal tension that has ensued in the Kabirdham district (previously known as Kawardha) since Sunday, 90 people have been booked under various sections including sections for inciting violence and rioting.
Fight Became a Riot, Claims Local
“After Durgesh was beaten for name-calling, some people later came in and removed the green flag and other decorations. A few hours later the saffron flag was removed by another group and the fight became a riot,” claimed a local, wishing not to be named.
“There wasn’t much that we could do. Youngsters from both sides then got into the brawl, hurled stones, beat each other up and the situation became worse,” he added.
Rally Called by Hindu Groups Turns Violent
On Tuesday, members of Hindu outfits including Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal planned a massive rally with thousands of people to protest against the police, alleging a failure on their part.
The protest rally, which was allegedly called by present MP Santosh Pandey and other senior leaders of Hindu outfits, turned violent as soon as the mob reached areas inhabited by Muslim residents.
Stones were pelted, even allegedly hitting the police and people were abused. As the violence escalated, the senior leaders escaped from the scene.
The police then lathi-charged the mob in order to disperse them, but not before people had been thrashed and homes and public property were damaged.
Over 5000 troops were deployed in the district to control the situation and strict measures like internet shut-down have been initiated to control the tensions in Kawardha.
Police File 7 FIRs, Name Over 90 People
In total seven FIRs have been lodged against people from both the communities, naming over 90 people in total.
14 more names have been been added to the FIR registered for inciting violence in the Kawardha district of Chhattisgarh.
Among the BJP leaders named in the FIRs are Rajnandgaon-Kawardha constituency MP Santosh Pandey, Abhishek Singh, the son of Dr. Raman Singh and Yuva Morcha President Piyush Thakur among others. These names comprise the first line of BJP leadership in the area.
BJP Leaders Say Charges 'False, Baseless'
Talking to the media, Pandey said, "All the charges against me are false and have no basis. It was a large crowd and some miscreants took over and entered the areas where violence happened. I was in the rally but not with the mob that resorted to violence."
Opposition leader Dharamlal Kaushik termed the case against BJP leaders as vendetta, saying, "Both the seniors leaders that have been named in the FIR were actually trying to contain the tension prevalent in the area and it was the administration that failed to act and curb the tension at first."
Piyush Thakur, who is one of leaders named in the FIR, told The Quint, "I have been named in the FIR when in fact, I was stopped 15km before Kawardha and wasn't allowed to enter on the said day."
“I was informed that some people had beaten up a guy named Durgesh Dewangan and that police was present but did nothing. So I decided to volunteer and went with the group along with Durgesh to lodge an FIR against the culprits, however, no action was taken against them instead later Durgesh was put behind bars," he added.
What Have the Cops Said?
“Prima-facie we have gathered evidence that led us to name 14 more people in the FIR for inciting violence, rioting, damage to public property, and other charges. Several senior leaders including MP Santosh Pandey and son of former CM have been named in the FIR,” said Mohit Garg, Superintendent of Police, Kabirdham.
Garg further told The Quint that they are doing everything in their power to diffuse the tensions and investigating further for more concrete evidence.
"Videos are also being scrubbed to gather more facts before we can take further action," the cop added.
Following high tension SP Mohit Garg and District Collector Ramesh Sharma, who visited the place where the altercation took place, called for a peace talk between the representatives of both sides.
However, this did not have the expected result. Both sides were already on the edge, and fearing further incidents, curfew was imposed in the area.
'Incident Will Surely Impact Both Communities'
Kawardha is home to former CM Dr. Raman Singh and present state forest minister Mohammad Akbar.
While the former has questioned the role of administration and targeted them for their inability to resolve the issue that led to violence, the latter claimed that the situation has been controlled and the administration is working to ensure peace among the communities.
Locals alleged that there haven’t been communal tensions in Kawardha of this scale in over a decade and this incident will surely have an impact on both communities in the coming days.
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