By Kashif Kakvi
Bhopal: A Muslim family of eight was allegedly attacked by a mob armed with iron rods chanting religious slogans on Saturday evening in Indore’s Kampel locality, after the family refused to leave the village dominated by the Hindu community. There is only one Muslim family living in the village
The victims are blacksmith by profession who had moved to Indore’s Kampel two years ago and run an agricultural equipment repairing workshop on the outskirts of the Pewday village.
According to the Indore police, the incident took place 22 km away from the Indore district headquarters in Pewday village, which falls under the Khudel police station, on Saturday at around 8 pm. The attackers left five people of the family gravely injured. They were referred to the Indore’s MY Hospital for treatment.
Based on a complaint from one of the victim, Shahrukh Lohar (25), the Khudel police registered the FIR against nine people of the Hindu community under Sections 323, 294, 506, 427, 147 and 148 of the Indian Penal Code almost eight hours after the incident. “Nine people have been booked under various sections of the IPC based on the complaint of the Muslim family,” said sub-inspector Vishwajeet Tomar, who is also the investigating officer of the case. “No arrests have been made yet.”
The police, however, registered a counter FIR against the victim Muslim family based on a complaint from Vikash Singh, a shopkeeper, who hails from Kampel village hours after the first FIR. In his police complaint, Vikash claimed that he has given Rs 75,000 to the Muslim family to built a tractor trolley two months ago which they failed to deliver. Dispute over money led to the violence, he alleged.
“An FIR has been registered against five people of the Muslim family for assaulting, rioting under Sections 323, 294, 506, 147 and 148 of the IPC. But no arrest has been made,” said investigating officer Tomar.
When asked about the family’s allegation that the attackers were associated with the RSS and had been threatening them for months, Tomar denied having received any such information.
Speaking to The Wire over the phone, Vikash said, “I gave Rs 75,000 cash to Farooque to make a tractor trolley almost two months ago. When he did not deliver it, I went to inquire. Instead of returning money or a trolley, he began to hurl abuses which led to the incident.”
He denied any association with right-wing groups and the allegations that people had been threatening the Muslim family.
The former sarpanch of the village, Subhash Choudhary, however, told The Wire that Vikash is associated with the RSS and often goes to shakhas. “Almost two weeks ago, my younger brother who has a close friendship with the Muslim family had a scuffle with Vikash for threatening them. The issue settled down between them after the police’s intervention.”
Ehtesham Hashmi, an advocate practicing in the Supreme Court who had received a call from the victims after the police was dilly-dallying in registering an FIR, alleged, “When the police were not registering an FIR, they [the Muslim family] called me and I visited the village, accompanying Congress spokesperson Ameen-ul-Khan Suri and Congress Indore’s minority wing head Irfan Shaikh. We urged the police to register the FIR, which then happened late at night.”
Claiming that the FIR against the Muslim family is baseless, he pointed out, “This is not the first time when the Indore police is trying to protect the accused by framing the victim in false cases. Initially, the police refused to register the FIR, when pressured, they refused to lodge the complaint based on the written complaint of the victims. Later they registered the FIR for assault and rioting. There is no mention of an attack owing to religious identity. By the morning, police registered a counter FIR by the name of one of the accused under almost the same charges. The police did the same in bangle seller Tasleem Ali’s case.”
Spelling out the details of the incident, the eldest member of the family, Farooque Geyasuddin (47), claimed that on Saturday evening when they were working in the shop, a mob of around 100-150 men picketed their home and workshop chanting religious slogans. “Accused Amit Maheshwari, Vikash Singh, Rahul, Kapil Pramar and others began abusing and attacked Shahrukh, Firoz and me with iron rods, saying, ‘Why haven’t you left the village, ignoring our previous threats?’” said Farooque. According to him, the attackers claimed themselves to be members of right-wing Hindu organisations and the ruling party.
Meanwhile, the armed mob allegedly sneaked inside the victims’ home and molested and attacked the women. “When I tried to make a video of the incident, one the attackers smashed the mobile and tried to molest me and my mother,” said Fouziya (27), Shahrukh’s elder sister, who had returned home from her in-laws’ a month ago to meet her parents.
Speaking to The Wire over the phone, Shahrukh said the attackers are from a nearby village and had been repeatedly telling the family to leave the area for the last three months, as they don’t want Muslims there. “On September 9, around a dozen of the attackers threatened us to vacate the village within a month or else be ready to face consequences.”
“Sensing the gravity of the situation, we called a meeting of the village’s elders who resolved the issue, assuring us of protection. But this assurance turned out to be hollow,” claimed Shahrukh. “Since we live in a rented home, we had finalised a deal to purchase a patch of land to construct a home. But owing to the threats, we cancelled it, deciding to migrate elsewhere.”
This story first appeared on thewire.in