31 persons have been arrested for rioting and arson

Curfew continued for the second day in the farming town of Khirkiya in Madhya Pradesh’ Harda district, after a mob ransacked dwellings of minorities and attacked the police on Thursday. Superintendent of Police Deepak Verma told The Hindu that 31 persons were arrested for rioting and arson.

“An indefinite curfew is being enforced by 600 to 700 officers, including one company of the Rapid Action Force. We took two people into custody yesterday [Thursday] after a complaint was filed accusing them of cow slaughter. Despite this, a ‘leaderless’ mob blocked the Hoshangabad- Khandwa highway demanding that the suspects be handed over to them. We dispersed them after bringing additional forces, who fired in the air and used teargas and mild force. The situation is now calm,” the SP said.

It is learnt that the animal belonging to a Korku Adivasi sharecropper was found dead on his Muslim landlord’s property in the Chipabad police circle. As news spread that some persons belonging to the Chamar caste were removing its hide, supporters of communal organisations began to agitate.

Collector Rajneesh Shrivastava told this paper that 15-20 houses and shops had been burnt. Seven persons, including Additional SP Malay Jain and Sub-Divisional Officer of Police C. Herald, were injured in stone throwing.

The town’s cleric, Imam Hafiz Shaukat, told this reporter that goons, shouting slogans, barged into his mosque around 1.30 p.m. on Thursday. “They beat me with sticks. Around 50 families have fled, but the situation is peaceful as they imposed curfew,” he said.

Minorities account for less than one-third of Khirkiya’s 25,000-population

In the last two months, five communal incidents were reported across the State, and the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress blamed each other. Since 2003, the State has registered 380 riots, in which 155 people have been killed. In almost textbook fashion, like that in Bhisham Sahni’s novel on Partition — Tamas — most of the clashes have been sparked off by the recovery of carcass.

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