National

Muslims desert Eidgahs on Eid in several MP towns

Ratlam (Madhya Pradesh): Following an unusual decision, the city of Ratlam presented a picture of deserted Eidgahs to protest against police excesses unleashed on them. They wore black ribbons on their arms while offering namaz in local mosques. Shahar Qazi Khursheed Ali and his deputy Qazi Asif Ali, after a meeting with community members, decided not to attend Eid prayers at Eidgah to register their protest against the highhandedness of the local administration. Neighbouring Neemuch and Mandsaur towns too demonstrated their solidarity with Ratlam Muslims and abstained from going to Eidgahs. 48 Eidgahs wore a deserted look throughout the state.

The city witnessed a communal flare-up when a mosque was desecrated on 3 September 2010. When police failed to take action against the offenders, a mob resorted to violence which resulted in arrests of about 500 persons (132 according to police version). The arrested included not only youngmen but even elderly persons and children. Even Tablighi jamats which were camping in different mosques at the time were not spared. In addition, persons staying within various mosques for etkaf (seclusion) during the last ten days of Ramzan, did not escape police wrath. Under the pretext of search and arrest, houses were ransacked and household properties were damaged. Police claim that they exercised great restraint inspite of provocation. It resorted to air fire, cane charge and curfew was imposed when people began setting vehicles on fire.

A delegation of prominent persons led by Shahar Qazi of Bhopal visited Ratlam to persuade people to reconsider their decision. However, on an on-the-spot investigation, the delegates felt shocked and distressed. After his return to the state capital, Shahar Qazi Maulana Syed Muhammad Fazil Qasmi could not control his emotions and delivered the Eid khutba in a choked voice. He made it clear that it was not a Hindu-Muslim riot but it was engineered by the "maintainers of law and order who forgot their duties and went berserk to unleash terror." Urging the Muslims to maintain law and order in the days to come, he asked people to remain calm.

Memoranda from different organisations were sent to the governor, chief minister, chairman of the state Human Rights Commission against the police atrocities. The Congress Party has accused the state government of negligence and urged the central UPA government to maintain strict vigil on the BJP-ruled states. MPCC spokesman Arif Masood held that it was a state-sponsored mayhem and police was harassing Muslim youths by implicating them in false cases and sending them to jails under charges of murder i.e. Sect 307 IPC and 188 of IPC.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 October 2010 on page no. 3

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