Makes a Village
By Anuradha Nagaraj
29 September, 2003
It couldn't be less subtle. A bright saffron board welcomes you to the
Ideal Hindu Village, Mishroli. Nestled in picturesque
green surroundings, the village has acquired this tag just this month.
The past 10 days
have seen armed Bajrang Dal activists on the rampage, driving out about
25 Muslim families from their homes, ransacking their houses and setting
them on fire.
This was never a Hindu village but they will make sure it
becomes one, says a distressed Iqbal Hussain as he tries
to salvage the medicines in his Ayurveda dispensary. Nobody
wants to come back here, not after what we have been through.
Mishroli is at the
epicentre of communal violence that has seen around 70 Muslim families
of seven villages in Aklera leave their homes and migrate to neighbouring
districts and Madhya Pradesh.
Bajrang Dal Suraksha
Prabhari for Kota, Bharat Bhushan Sharma, warns: We will
create these Hindu villages which will run in accordance with our traditions
and there will be full overall development here. They will surround
Muslim-dominated pockets and if the Muslims create any public nuisance,
they will have to pay the price. If they want to co-exist, they will
have to live by our rules.
It all began on
September 17. That morning, on a 45-odd-km stretch on National Highway
12, a chakka jam by Bajrang Dal activists, angry at police
arresting some people for not buying bus tickets, threw traffic out
of gear. As police and the district administration desperately tried
to manoeuvre their way through the streets, angry mobs walked down narrow
village lanes in Aklera, identifying Muslim houses and tearing them
them coming and ran into the fields to hide, says Kanija
Begum. We saw them burn our houses and destroy the mosque
nearby. As we saw the mosque crumble, we just ran away.
Next to Kanija Begums
house in Gehunkheri village, the district administration is trying to
reconstruct the mosque now. Sitting at his relatives house in
Aklera town, Siraj Mohammad says: I look after the mosque
and it is not easy for me to just walk back into this new thing they
are building and pretend that nothing happened. Because it did.
According to the
Muslims, they had told police they apprehended trouble on September
16 night itself, and had been promised forces by next morning.
However, Home Minister
Gulab Singh Shaktawat denies police was late in reacting. If
people file verbal complaints, police cant act. And there was
no report of a written complaint, he says. So far, police
have arrested 31 people and registered 28 complaints. However, villagers
allege that the masterminds, Devi Lal Meena and Kanwar Lal Meena, are
New Bajrang Dal
recruits in Mishroli village blame everything on the Muslims who killed
a peacock on Janmashtami day. Ever since there
has been trouble, says Bhoj Raj. And then that
Muslim bus driver took our activists to the police station saying we
were not buying tickets. We were willing to pay but he wasnt giving
us the ticket.
The Bajrang Dal
too blames police for the violence, with its Vibhag Sangathan Mantri
Khushpal Singh Chauhan saying the problem started because they were
over-sensitive to the Muslims.
ASP Jhalawar Ram
Niwas Sharma denies this. They were travelling without tickets
and so the driver brought the bus to the Aklera police station where
they attacked policemen.