Special Reports

Balesar riot victims maltreated by Rajasthan govt

By Mohammad Naushad Khan

Clashes erupted at Balesar in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district on 22 May following a dispute between two communities over the widening of a road. As a result, the Muslim locality was attacked by a 4,000-strong mob comprising mostly the Malis. The mob was led by four Mali sarpanches, believed to have won on Congress support. Many shops were gutted and damaged. A 100-year-old Idgah was demolished by the rioters. Malis also attacked policemen who were trying to control the situation. In police retaliation, one rioter was killed.
 
Destruction of mosque and homes in Balesar
Destruction of mosque and homes in Balesar

From day one the response of the authorities concerned was of double standards and lacked impartiality for the simple reason that the rioters belonged to the community to which the chief minister of the state belongs. Rioters were arrested initially but let off imediately. Jodhpur administration paid compensation of 2 to 5 lakh rupees to the Mali community people who were  killed or injured. A government job was also offered to the kin of the deceased identified as Jaipar Ram. But in sharp contrast, the compensation offered to the Muslim victims ranged from two thousand to 50 thousand rupees only.  The Muslim community of the area is angered by this double standard of the Gehlot government towards the victims.

A fact finding team of Majlise Mushawarat that comprised Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Ayyub, Siddiqui Ramzani and some other members visited the troubled  area. What the team assessed from the ground reality was that the rioters were roaming freely withought any fear, whereas the Muslim community is worried and feeling insecure in the aftermath of the incident. In the compensation, Muslims were ill-treated and the amount that they got was marginal as compared to members of the other community. In order to reconstruct the Idgah, Muslims got only 10 thousand rupees while only 2-3 thousand was paid to the injured. Members of the Muslim community returned the compensation amount to the authorities saying that the amount was less than what was paid to the members of the Mali community. But a leading newspaper of the area published a lie claiming that in the case of burnt shops, 4 lakh 83 thousand rupees was given. The fact-finding team felt that members of the minority community should meet Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on this issue.

Abdul Sattar Silawat, chief editor of Hindi newspaper Dainik Mahka Rajasthan has written a letter to the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi about the biased attitude of the chief minister and the authorities in the aftermath of the Balesar riots. In his letter, he has asked Sonia Gandhi to caution Gehlot and his team over the issue, otherwise the Congress will lose the trust of the Muslims of this area as happened in the case of Uttar Pradesh earlier.

Gehlot sent Industries Minister Rajendra Pareek as his emissary with a message of peace and goodwill. Pareek advised Muslims to maintain peace and tried to give them cheques of paltry sums as compensation for the loss of property. Muslims refused to accept the paltry compensation and pointed out that the Mali rioters were given financial assistance ranging from Rs. 2 lakh to 5 lakh each for death and injury. Muhammad Sabir, president of Muslim Yuva Sangathan said: “This is the height of injustice to Muslims. We neither attacked Malis nor indulged in any violence, yet we are being painted as aggressors.,” 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 June 2010 on page no. 21

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