"Madam told me that you only have to say that your kiosk (gumti) was not demolished by the district administration. I was afraid… There were a lot of people who came with CMO madam last night and everybody told me to say that my shop wasn't demolished by the administration," Wasim Sheikh, an amputee whose shop was demolished after Khargone riots, claimed.
Talking to The Quint on Tuesday, 19 April, a day after he recanted his statement that his "shop had been demolished by the administration post the Khargone riots," Wasim said that he was also given Rs 2,500 and was promised by Chief Municipal Officer (CMO) Priyanka Patel that the "administration would help him in re-establishing his shop."
On Monday, a video released by Madhya Pradesh's Khargone district administration showed Wasim retracting his earlier statements and saying that his shop wasn't demolished by them.
However, talking to The Quint, Wasim said he was afraid as he was called out of his house in the night by CMO Patel, who was accompanied by a lot of people.
"I didn't tell them at that time but there are CCTV cameras installed which they can check. I was told to give this statement along with urging for peace and harmony. I didn't know I would be played like this,"Wasim Sheikh to The Quint
The CMO of Khargone district Priyanka Patel and Sub-divisional Magistrate Milind Dhoke didn't respond to The Quint's calls and texts. Their responses will be included if and when they are received.
Meanwhile, the district collector Anugraha P when contacted responded with a WhatsApp text, "Don't Spread Hatred."
When asked why he recanted his statement, Wasim said, "I was afraid. I was called out alone at night, they didn't even let my child come."
Wasim Sheikh is a father of two and has five members in his family, including his ailing mother who are dependent on him.
State Takes Strong Stand
After the communal clashes in Khargone on the occasion of Ram Navami on 10 April, both Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state Home Minister Narottam Mishra took a strong stand, promising that rioters would not go unpunished.
"Jis ghar se patthar nikle hain us ghar ko hi pattharon ka dher banayenge (The houses of stone pelters will be turned into a pile of stones)," Mishra said on 11 April.
Post the riots in Khargone, 16 houses and 29 shops were demolished by the district administration.
What Did Wasim Say Before the Khargone District Administration Got to Him?
Wasim had earlier said that his kiosk located at Chhoti Mohan Talkies was demolished on 11 April, a day after the riots.
"I am a man with no hand; how could I have pelted stones? I was operating my kiosk for the past 10-12 years and after the clashes that happened on 10 April, the district administration demolished multiple establishments citing action against stone pelters and those involved in Khargone riots. In this drive my kiosk was also demolished. I have two kids and an elderly mother to look after."Wasim Sheikh
Wasim also alleged that he wasn't given any notice or information prior to the demolition.
What Did Wasim Say After the Khargone Administration Met With Him?
The district administration on Monday released a video where Wasim Sheikh could be heard saying, "Neither my PM Awas Yojana house nor my gumti was demolished by the district administration."
Following this, Wasim also appealed for peace and harmony in the district, after which CMO Patel could be heard saying:
"Administration took actions near Chhoti Mohan Talkies area which was 'lawful.' His kiosk wasn't demolished in that action."
However, according to an India Today report dated 18 April, a senior official requesting anonymity had said, "Sheikh's kiosk was not marked illegal and it could have been demolished by mistake."
Eyewitnesses Testify to 'Demolition by Administration'
Sadulla Baig, whose house is built on the plot of land beside which Wasim's kiosk was built, told The Quint that he had requested the administration to not demolish the kiosk as it was run by a man with disability.
"When they came to carry out the demolition, they started with the plot third from mine. They also demolished Wasim's gumti. I told them that he is a person with disability, but they didn't listen. They turned to me and demolished my house too. This is injustice but who will listen to us? Who will listen to the man who has no hands and now has a destroyed livelihood."Sadulla Baig
Mukeem Khan, who owns the land where Wasim had established his plot, told The Quint:
"I had allowed him to continue his shop because he is a needy man and has to feed his family. What he first said is true, all my neighbours have confirmed it. The administration is trying to hide that they have demolished a shop owned by a man with disability."Mukeem Khan to The Quint