Mohammed Iqbal

BALESAR (RAJASTHAN): The political protection allegedly extended to rioters belonging to the dominant Mali community, who demolished a 100-year-old Idgah situated between the dusty Balesar and Durgawata villages in Jodhpur district this past week, is not the only cause for discontent in the beleaguered Muslim minority here. What has angered them more is the Congress-led Government's “blatantly biased conduct” in the aftermath of the communal flare-up.

A 4,000-strong mob comprising mostly Malis, allegedly led by four Mali sarpanches of the region elected with Congress support, ransacked the small Muslim locality, torched half-a-dozen shops, hurled stones at houses, razed the Idgah and attacked the police force trying to control the violence on Saturday. One of the rioters was killed and several injured in the police firing.

The Administration, which was under a tremendous pressure because most rioters belonged to the clan of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot – who is also a Mali – in his own home district, had to release Balesar Sarpanch Revat Ram and four others within hours of their detention. What has followed since then is a meticulous cover-up exercise.

Mr. Gehlot sent Industries Minister Rajendra Pareek as his emissary with the message of “peace and goodwill” here on Thursday. At a meeting organised in the Dak Bungalow here, Mr. Pareek advised Muslims to maintain peace and tried to give them cheques for paltry sums as compensation for loss of property. He then went to Belwa village to meet the next of kin of Jaipar Ram killed in the police firing.

The distraught Muslims refused to accept the compensation of a few thousand rupees and pointed out that the Mali rioters were given financial assistance ranging from Rs.2 lakh to 5 lakh each for death and injuries. The “double standards” were too obvious at the meeting which ended on a stormy note. “This is the height of injustice to Muslims. We neither attacked Malis nor indulged in any violence, yet we are being painted as aggressors,” said a furious Mohammed Sabir, president of Muslim Yuva Sangathan, and pointed out that not a single accused had been arrested so far.

New SP (Rural) Girdharilal Sharma, contacted by The Hindu, said investigation into the matter was in progress.