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Phalodi riots

Ten Muslim organizations of Rajasthan have demanded a judicial inquiry into the recent communal riots in Phalodi in Jodhpur district, alleging they were part of a conspiracy to disturb peace in western Rajasthan. The clashes were triggered by allegations that hundreds of cattle were being taken outside the state for slaughter.

A joint delegation of the organizations, which visited Phalodi in early January, released its report on the December 20 violence and blamed the Shiv Sena, BJP and some anti-social elements for driving a wedge between Hindus and Muslims. The regular transportation of cattle was deliberately given a communal tinge to foment trouble, the delegation said.

The cattle had been bought from an annual animal fair and were being transported in railway wagons to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar for agricultural use, Mr Abdul Qayoom Akhtar of the state unit of All-India Milli Council said.

The report said some communal organizations in Phalodi had, through public address system, urged people to assemble at the railway station for ‘saving the cow and its progeny’. As a result, a huge crowd staged a dharna at the railway track demanding the release of the cattle and attacked the cattle traders. When the traders took shelter at the nearby Madarsa Imdadiya, the mob followed them and burnt the madarsa.

The mob then burnt at least six shops and a number of cabins, causing a loss estimated at Rs. 5 million. Another madarsa was attacked in Lohawat village the next day.

Questioning the role of police, the report said the violence continued for 12 hours and though tension was building up since morning on 20 December, no attempt was made to stop the spreading rumour.

The death of the former state unit chief of Shiv Sena, Murlidhar Bohra, during the communal violence has raised several questions as his body was recovered after midnight near the railway tracks. The report said since the Shiv Sena leader had died under suspicious circumstances, it was not proper to accuse Muslims of killing him until the investigation was completed.

In another important observation, the delegation found that the slaughter of animals taken from Rajasthan to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh was not economically viable because the meat would fetch prices far below the cost incurred on feeding and transportation. q

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