Minority-bashing cases on upswing in MP

Report by: 
L.S. Herdenia
Bhopal
2 Jul 2017

As far as minority bashing is concerned, Madhya Pradesh is no exception. In many cases Muslims and Christians have been arrested on almost imaginary charges. In one case, the charge of sedition was slapped on a group of 15 Muslim youngsters following the allegation that they celebrated Pakistan's victory in Champions Trophy finals and also burst crackers.
These people were arrested on the basis of a complaint purportedly made by one Subhash Koli. But in a surprise move Koli himself said that he never made any complaint. Koli also charged that all of them were framed.
“No one raised slogans and no one distributed sweets. All accused are innocent because police filed a false case against them,” he said. In a two-page affidavit filed in the court, the 32-year-old said that he had gone to Shahpur police station on June 18 with his father Laxman and friend Sahil Mansuri to free Anis, his neighbour, who had been taken into custody.
“The town inspector (Sanjay) Pathak slapped me and my father and beat up my friend with a baton and put him in the lock-up. I was made to sign blank papers. I did not write that the accused raised Pakistan zindabad slogans,’’ he said in the affidavit.
“The truth is that some miscreants, maybe four or five, stealthily came and burst crackers with an intention to vitiate the atmosphere. The accused are my neighbours. How could they have burst crackers when they were present near us?’’
Koli said he was scared when Pathak told him that he had come to save a Muslim despite being a Hindu. He added that he signed some papers thinking that either his friend Sahil or Anis was being released. Koli told media that he wanted to save the 15 innocent people by speaking the truth. He said he was worried because he got a call from the police station asking him to come there at night but he chose not to go.
The police had first charged the accused with sedition but later dropped the charge saying there was no evidence. Burhanpur SP RRS Parihar claimed the complainant was probably under pressure because he did not want to antagonise the villagers. “We may add the charge of influencing the witness,” he said.
But whatever Koli may say, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh thinks that the raising Pakistan Zindabad slogan is an ant-inational act. In an interview with the India Express (June 26, 2017, Delhi edition,) while replying to a question he said that Pakistan is involved in acts of terrorism. To raise Pakistan zindabad slogan is rajdroh (sedition).
Besides Muslims, Christians are also harassed in Madhya Pradesh. A few days ago, four tribal girls and a woman missionary, who were coming to Bhopal from Jharkhand's  Pakur district, were taken off the Kshipra Express at Satna after rightwing activists complained that the girls were being taken for conversion. Some more such incidents have been reported from other places. A delegation of Christian organisations met the top police officers and submitted a list of Christian-bashing incidents. The memorandum complained that no action was taken against those who made the false complaint. (IPA)