Two Muslim-owned properties were razed by the authorities in Madhya Pradesh after communal clashes broke out during the Akshat Kalash Yatra, a Hindu procession to celebrate the Ram temple consecration in Ayodhya.
In Semli village of Mandsaur district, a dispute erupted between two groups over the passage of the yatra near a mosque on January 8th. Following the dispute, administrative personnel, accompanied by law enforcement from the Nai Abadi police station area reached the spot.
Since then, section 144 has been imposed in the area, along with a large force deployment.
On the matter, a complaint was lodged by Ajay Prajapati S/O Kishore Prajapati on the accusations of disrupting a religious pilgrimage. According to a local source, the police have arrested eight identified persons, primarily Muslims, and registered an FIR against 15-20 other unidentified persons, including Ghafoor.
Ghafoor’s auto garage shop, purportedly encroaching on government land, was demolished by the administration on Tuesday, January 9th.
Visuals examined by The Observer Post indicated that police were present at the scene while men wielding saffron flags threatened Muslims, referring to a previous incident in Dorana village in Mandsaur.
According to respondents, village residents shared messages like “Har Ghar Tootega Jahan se Bhagwan Ram ko aur Karyakartaon ko Gali di jayegi” (Houses, where Lord Ram and his devotees are disrespected will be demolished) on social media.
Rohit Kachhawa, the in-charge of New Abadi police station, stated that currently there is peace in the village and the situation has calmed down after the advice of the police.
At the same time, in the Shajapur district, another Akshat Kalash Yatra dispute reportedly took place between the two groups, resulting in the demolition of a Muslim’s home.
It was around the time when the Akshat ferry was passing through the Moti Masjid locality of the city around 8 PM on Monday, to distribute yellow Akshat of Ram Mandir, among the locals and youths, a tussle unfolded between the two groups of people.
The Akshat Kalash Yatra started from Ujjain on December 25, 2023, and is said to culminate in Ayodhya on February 27, 2024. The VHP said that the yatra will cover more than 5,000 villages and towns in Madhya Pradesh and that it has received overwhelming support from the people.
Meanwhile, a curfew is in force in Shajapur district, followed by the arrest of 9 Muslims, including Rahim Patel, whose house was bulldozed by the administration on Wednesday for his alleged involvement in disrupting the Akshat ferry.
“Heavy police force has been deployed in the concerned areas and the situation is totally under control,” IG-Ujjain Range Santosh Kumar Singh, who has been camping in Shajapur since Monday night only, told a local newspaper on Tuesday.
A case is currently registered against 24 Muslims, based on a complaint lodged by Mohit Rathore, a 24-year-old resident of Shajapur, along with his associates. The charges include Sections 147, 148, 149, 323, 294, 506, 336, 298, 295A, and 153A of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to offences related to rioting, armed with a deadly weapon, unlawful assembly, voluntarily causing hurt, obscene acts, criminal intimidation, endangering life or personal safety, causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety, deliberate act with intent to wound religious feelings, and promoting enmity between different groups, respectively.
Coming to know about the incident, the second time local BJP MLA Arun Bhimawad also reached the Shajapur Kotwali police station on Monday night and demanded strict action against those who stopped the procession. Shajapur district is part of western Madhya Pradesh and is considered a stronghold of RSS-BJP.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is also the ruling party at the centre, and as well as in the state, has maintained that the Akshat Kalash Yatra is a matter of faith and that the government will not interfere in it. The state, being run by BJP’s CM Mohan Lal Yadav has also defended Muslim-owned properties’ demolitions on the grounds of removing illegal encroachment and that a due procedure was followed.
The Ram temple issue has been a long-standing and contentious one in the Indian Political landscape. The temple is being built on the site of a 16th-century mosque, which was demolished by Hindu mobs in 1992, sparking nationwide riots that killed more than 2,000 people, primarily Muslims.
The Supreme Court of India, in a landmark verdict in 2019, awarded the disputed site to the Hindu side and directed the government to provide a five-acre alternative site to Muslims.
Following this, the construction of the temple began, after a grand ceremony attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders in August 2020. The temple is expected to be completed by 2025. However, a consecration ceremony is to be held on January 22, 2024, marking the birth of Ram, a revered Hindu deity.
‘Ram temple replicas in malls, or restaurants’
In the wake of this grand ceremony, Indore mayor Pushyamitra Bhargava has asked residents in the city to install replicas of the Ram Temple in shopping malls, restaurants, and other establishments. He warned that the people will teach a lesson to those who do not adhere to the orders.
“… If replicas of Christmas trees and Santa Claus can be displayed every year from December 25, then I don’t think anyone should’ve any objections to putting replicas of Ram temple also. But still if anyone without any reason or doesn’t cooperate, I think people of Madhya Pradesh know how to respond,” he said.