Sangeeta’s house is amongst the 26 houses that were burnt in the communal clashes that broke out in Khargone on Sunday evening, 10 April during a Ram Navami procession.
But the stage for the clashes that broke out on Sunday was set earlier during the day when the first procession was crossing Talab Chowk at 11 am.
When the procession, organised by Raghuvanshi Samaj which has a sizeable population in Khargone, reached near Talab Chowk, they had to stop owing to the police barricading. The members of the procession objected to the barricading claiming that it did not leave enough space for the procession to turn around.
How & Why the Situation Escalated:
Talking to The Quint, Manoj Raghuvanshi, the organiser of the first procession, said, “Members of the rally were demanding the barricades be pulled back to make space for the procession.”
He added further, “There was a minor verbal tussle over barricading and Shyam Mahajan, district BJP president also arrived at the scene. Then Shyam got into a heated argument with the Additional Superintendent of the Police, Neeraj Chaurasiya. However, after senior officers got involved, we were given space to turn around and reached the city’s Ram Mandir. We conducted the ‘Bhandara’ (a religious feast) and then everybody returned home."
Raghuvanshi claimed that this "scuffle" might have alerted the other members of his community, which is why other members of the rally were more aggressive and ‘hyped’ during the second rally.
As people pooled into the procession in front of the Jama Masjid situated at the Talab Chowk in the second procession, the situation grew tense.
Around 5 pm the clashes broke out while the procession swelled at the chowk. As the police tried to dispel the clashing mobs at the chowk, multiple reports of stone-pelting and arson started pouring in from Sanjay Nagar along with Qazipura and Tavdi area.
According to BL Mandloi, in charge of Khargone police station, the procession was supposed to leave between 2-3 pm but got delayed until 5 pm.
“There was a crowd of over 1,000 people in the procession and they were near the mosque when the situation grew tense and stone-pelting commenced,” said Mandloi, who was himself hit with a stone.
“When the government knew it won’t be able to control the procession why did it permit it in the first place? Who will return to us what we have lost? Will the government compensate or will the Rambhakts who carried out the procession?” Sangeeta asked.
'Called Police Twice, But They Didn’t Come'
Following the clashes on Ram Navami, Khargone witnessed multiple incidents of arson and stone-pelting resulting in the loss of property, homes and livelihood from both communities.
Talking to The Quint, Manju Bai, a resident of the Sanjay Nagar area said that they didn’t know when the clashes broke out, but there were stones being hurled at the homes and their two-storey house was set on fire.
“I was with my daughter and my son had gone to see the procession and my husband was out working. Suddenly everybody started shouting, ‘Bhago, Jaan Bachao'. This is what we heard and the next thing we saw was a wave of stones being pelted from the backside of our homes. I rushed to my daughter and we both left our homes to save our lives. We were not at home when they came and burned down everything."Manju Bai, as told to The Quint
While Manju Bai was forced to run from her own house, Nawab Khan, another resident of the Sanjay Nagar locality, also had to leave as rioters tried to barge into his house.
“The other families started moving out of their houses and locked them, we sensed something is going to happen. By the time I understood, there were stones from all sides. I was alone in the house and I locked myself up. A while later when they started banging on the doors and tried to set the house on fire, I called the police. I called them twice but they didn’t come, they kept saying we are reaching, but nobody came until 1 am. By this time the situation had escalated a lot, I feared for my life and so I fled from the scene from the backside of the house,” Nawab Khan.
According to police sources, 26 houses, 10 bikes and a godown were set ablaze on the intervening night of 10-11 April, following the clashes.
'Demolished House Was Built Under PMAY'
A day later, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said to the media, "There is no place for rioters on the soil of Madhya Pradesh. These rioters have been identified, they will not be released. Strictest action will be taken against them.”
Meanwhile, MP Home Minister Narottam Mishra said, "Jis ghar se patthar aaye hain us ghar ko hi patthar ka dher banayenge" (the houses from where stones were pelted will be turned into a pile of stones).
Following both ministers' statements, the district administration on Monday, 11 April, set out on a spree of demolition razing down 16 houses and 29 shops citing involvement in the clashes. According to the official sources, all the demolished establishments are minority-owned.
Amjad Khan, a resident of Khaskhaswadi area, whose house was one of the 12 houses demolished by the district administration a day after the clashes claimed that his house was constructed under the benefits of Pradhanmantri Aawas Yojana (PMAY).
“They came with 5-6 bulldozers and crushed the house which they themselves had given permission and money to build. My house was a kaccha house and I made a pucca house after I got the money under PM Aawas Yojana. Everyone is saying that my house was demolished as an action against the stone pelters, but I never pelted stones. I live over 1km from the area and I am a daily wage labour working every day to feed my family. I can’t afford to take a day off,” said Amjad Khan with a heavy voice.
The district administration claims that they have demolished the illegal establishments built on the encroached land.
Khargone collector, Anugraha P, has, however, claimed, “These names were already on the list of people who have built establishments by encroaching on the government lands and coincidentally many of them were involved in the riots. The demolition drive is completely legal, everyone was given prior notice."
Notably, Sadulla Baig, whose house was demolished for the second time in last one year said that he is not a rioter but is fighting to live through the day.
“My house was demolished once last year after the government told me that a part of my house is built on government land. They came, tore down the front portion and demarcated the limit of the house. This time they came and further demolished my house. I live with four kids and they destroyed everything, where am I supposed to take my kids and go?" said Sadulla Baig breaking down.
Apart from the demolition drive till Tuesday, 12 April, 25 First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered from the Hindu community while only one FIR has been registered on the complaints of the Muslim community.
A total of 89 people have been arrested and 70 of them have been sent to jail, police has said.
Following the orders of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, the Madhya Pradesh government set up its first claims tribunal in Khargone to recover the damages to the property from the accused.
The tribunal has been set up under section 4 of the 'Madhya Pradesh Lok Evam Niji Sampatti ko Nuksaan ka Nivaran Evam Nuksaani ki Vasuli Adhiniyam 2021' after the Khargone riots.