The residents of Indore’s minority-dominated Chandan Khedi village are spending anxious moments as clashes during a right-wing rally led to communal tension last week, resulting in a sudden demolition drive over “illegal encroachments” on government land.
Last Tuesday, Chandan Khedi, home to about 400 Muslim families and 15 Hindu families, witnessed clashes reportedly after stones were pelted at a fund-raising rally for Ayodhya Ram temple. Several injuries were reported from both the sides. Incidentally, a day later, 13 houses were partially demolished on the street through which the rally had passed.
The houses were demolished reportedly for road-widening. But that wasn’t the initial plan, according to Sub Divisional Magistrate of Depalpur Tehsil Pratul Sinha. The initial plan was for road construction, but after the clash the need for widening was felt as the roads were not wide enough for a fire tender to pass, The Indian Express quoted him as saying.
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Sinha said that after the clashes the villagers were told they were illegally encroaching on government land, and either they pull down the required portion or the administration will demolish their house. He said no demolition notice was issued but they had oral consent, and that the villagers were given enough time to remove their belongings.
He said 4 feet space each of 10 houses was demolished and 7-8 feet of three other houses were broken, adding that the 30-foot road is almost ready, according to the report.
The move has, however, invited criticism from the villagers since around 27 of them were arrested after the December 29 clashes for pelting stones at the rally and the demolition took place while arrests continued. Parveen Bi, whose panchayat member husband was arrested, said she was asked to vacate the house a day later, according to the report.
Meanwhile, almost similar clashes were witnessed in Ujjain’s Begun Bagh and Mandsaur in the last week of December, from where incidents of stone-pelting on right-wing rallies for raising funds for the temple were reported.
Indore DIG Harinarayan Chari Mishra said that one Bharat Patel had organised the rally. He said the initial altercation happened because the villagers shooting videos of the rally, and during the argument stone-pelting took place, which led to the clash.
The rally was organised by Bharat Singh Anjane under the Shri Ram Janma Bhoomi Nirman Samiti’s banner, according to the report. Anjane claimed there were no provocation, though the villagers say otherwise. He said earlier too, at least on three occasions, people going to a nearby Hanuman mandir had come under attack.
The villagers claimed a group who were behind the rally stopped in front of the village mosque and provoked them. They claimed they started chanting Hanuman Chalisa in front of the mosque and hurled abuses at the villagers, whose objection to this act led to a scuffle. They claimed the outnumbered group fled the spot but later returned with more men who were armed with sticks, swords and firearms. Amid clashes, there were also reported attempts of breaking the minaret of the mosque as three people were seen climbing on it.