Against the backdrop of anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat’s Himmatnagar and Khambhat in April this year, a fact-finding team consisting of Neha Dabhade, Deputy Director at Centre for Study of Society and Secularism and Hozefa Ujjaini, social activist and Director of Buniyaad visited Khambhat and Himmatnagar from 25th to 27th July, 2022. This is an excerpt from their fact-finding report:
On 10th April, communal riots broke out in different parts of India including West Bengal, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Gujarat on the occasion of Ram Navami. The occasion saw Hindu right wing organizations organize processions in these states. In the state of Gujarat, organizations including Ram Sena, Antar Rashtriya Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad organized “Shobha Yatra” processions in Khambhat situated in Anand district in Central Gujarat and Himmatnagar situated in Sabarkantha district in North Gujarat on 10th April, 2022. It was reported in the media that the Hindu and Muslim communities clashed during the processions and Muslims indulged in stone pelting in which several people including police personnel were injured. One person, 57-year-old Kanhaiya Lal Rana, lost his life in Khambhat. Shops and vehicles were set ablaze during the riots and stones were thrown. The police had to resort to lathicharge and lobbying of tear gas shells for bringing the situation under control.
It is alleged by the police that the residents in Chhapariya/ Ashrafnagar locality dominated by Muslims threw stones on the two processions that took place in Himmatnagar. In Khambhat too, it is alleged that Muslims pelted stones on the procession. In Khambhat, the local administration ordered bulldozers to raze down the properties of those accused of stone pelting during the communal riots which took place in the minority dominated area of Shakarpur. The media reports quoted the police alleging “that the violence in Khambhat was a ‘pre-planned conspiracy’ hatched by a ‘sleeper module’ to achieve dominance of the minority community in the town (Times of India , 2022)”. Consequently, the police arrested 11 persons for their alleged role in the violence. According to some news reports, the number of arrested in Khambhat has reached 40.
Anand Collector M Y Daxini commenting on the demolitions said, “We have issued orders to remove all illegal encroachments. Miscreants had used the bushes and thick vegetation to attack the procession. The encroachments are being removed from government land based on government records. These are those encroachments which had come up on government land and against which notices were already issued in the past.” He said carts and stalls are also being removed to free government land.
Against this backdrop of communal riots and violence, a fact-finding team consisting of Neha Dabhade, Deputy Director at Centre for Study of Society and Secularism and Hozefa Ujjaini, social activist and Director of Buniyaad visited Khambhat and Himmatnagar from 25th to 27th July, 2022.
The team met in Khambhat Additional Commissioner of Police, Abhishek Gupta, Sarpanch of Shakarpur, Dinesh Balun, some of the Muslim residents of Shakarpur whose stalls were demolished by the local administration and some Muslim residents who were arrested in the case. The team also met Jayveer Joshi, leader of Ram Sena and member of BJP Yuva Morcha regional committee in Khambhat. The team met one prominent journalist and head of an educational institute who actively follows the local politics. However, they requested anonymity and thus their identity will not be divulged. In Himmatnagar, the team met residents of Ashrafnagar, Rafique Qureshi, resident of Hasan nagar and accused in Hasannagar violence, Chagan Vanjara along with other neighbours from Vanjaravas, members from Devipujak community living in Hasannagar and Kanak Jhala, leader of the Antar Rashtriya Hindu Parishad. The team gathered relevant material like copies of FIR, photographs and videos, posters from social media related to the incidents etc.
This story was originally published in maktoobmedia.com . Read the full story here