30 Muslims were made to sign Rs.5,000-bonds not to breach the peace during elections

Victims who had lost their property to arson in the riots that took place in Harda district’s Khirkiya town in September were made to sign good-conduct bonds by the district administration on Saturday. Thirty Muslim victims were summoned to the Khirkiya Tehsildar’s office and made to sign bonds of Rs.5,000 that they would not breach the peace during elections. The action was taken under sections 107 and 116 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

On September 19, 17 persons were injured, 53 houses burnt, six shops looted, a mosque vandalised and at least 50 Muslim families fled the Khirkiya-Chipabad area following a rumour that a cow had been killed. The rumour was later found to be false. Incumbent Harda MLA Kamal Patel’s son Sudeep was photographed leading the mob and is the prime accused in the FIR.

Shamim Meghani Modi, the Samajwadi Jan Parishad (SJP) candidate, told The Hindu that the victims had earlier asked the police for protection from threats from the Bharatiya Janata Party, for which main-accused Sudeep Patel is campaigning. “The victims are now scared as BJP men have threatened retribution, and the victims will be booked if they defend themselves. They could not even understand the bonds, which were in English. The accused are roaming free and Sudeep represents the BJP in election meetings at the collectorate,” Ms. Modi said.

Ms. Modi had survived an attempt on her life in 2009, for which she accused former Revenue Minister Kamal Patel, who lost his portfolio after he and his family were accused of murdering one Durgesh Jat in 2011. He was later acquitted. Kamal Patel, Sudeep’s father, is the Jat strongman of the BJP in Narmadapuram Division.

Harda Collector Rajneesh Shrivastava told this paper that he was not aware of the action and could comment only after he gathered all the facts.

Chief Electoral Officer Jaideep Govind said he would investigate. “Prima facie, this seems to be a case where we may intervene. The victims have legal recourse and action will be taken as per the law if the administration has violated norms,” he said.