Sit-in against Rajasthan government's "indifference"

Members of the Rajasthan Muslim Forum and other organisations staged a dharna here on Friday to protest against the “targeted” police action on community members earlier this month in Tonk, about 90 km from here.

The Muslim Forum, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), the Rajasthan Sadbhavana Manch and the Dalit Adhikar Manch staged a sit-in against the government's “indifference” and demanded justice for the victims of the violence.

A delegation of citizens met Rajasthan Chief Secretary C.K. Matthew last week and gave him a copy of an independent fact-finding team’s report on the incident of July 12, when the police and special task force fired teargas shells and lathicharged Muslims praying inside the Chhawni Mosque.

One killed

According to the fact-finding team, one person was killed and 50, including elderly people, were injured in the police action.

The delegation and the fact-finding team that visited Tonk, comprised PUCL national secretary Kavita Srivastava, Sawai Singh of the Sarva Seva Sangh, Mohd. Hasan, Satish Kumar of the Dalit Adhikar Kendra, Quari Moinudin of the Rajasthan Muslim Forum among others.

“The prayers were over and people were coming out, so why did the police enter the mosque and fire teargas shells,” asked Ms. Srivastava.

“More than communal elements, who are anyway always looking to fan tensions, it was the police action that was totally unwarranted and communally targeted,” Ms. Srivastava told The Hindu.

According to the fact-finding team’s report, the police action came after “sporadic altercation between members of the Keer and Muslim communities the previous night.”

On July11, during the first Iftar and prayer of Ramzan, a scuffle reportedly broke out between Keers and Muslims over Keer youths playing loud music in a marriage procession.

While a motorcycle was set ablaze during the scuffle, the matter was almost immediately resolved by elders of the two communities.

However, members of the delegation that met the Chief Secretary claimed that the next day, several anti-social elements armed with swords, gathered outside the mosque the next day and started shouting inflammatory slogans.

As a result, Muslim youths got into an argument with the said elements. At that, instead of chasing the troublemakers away, an “special task force team barged into the mosque by breaking its gates and fired teargas shells indiscriminately, blinding elderly people in prayers...a taxi driver, Nasir,was hit and died of a teargas shell injury,” the report claimed.