Satnamis protest desecration; attack SP office, torch vehicles in Chhattisgarh

Protesters threw stones and set on fire the SP office in Baloda Bazar district. They were unhappy with the probe on the desecration of the ‘jaitkhamb’, a sacred structure for the community

Updated - June 11, 2024 08:35 am IST

Published - June 10, 2024 10:24 pm IST - RAIPUR

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Vishnu Deo Sai with Deputy Chief Ministers Arun Sao and Vijay Sharma during a press conference.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Vishnu Deo Sai with Deputy Chief Ministers Arun Sao and Vijay Sharma during a press conference. | Photo Credit: PTI

A huge mob from the Satnami community torched dozens of vehicles, pelted police personnel with stones and set afire the Superintendent of Police (SP) office building in Chhattisgarh’s Baloda Bazar district on June 10. The protesters were not satisfied with the police’s handling of a case involving the desecration of a ‘jaitkhamb’, a structure of sacred importance to the Satnamis, in Giraudpuri village last month.

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Demanding a CBI probe, a huge gathering marched towards the collectorate compound that also houses the SP office and other government offices, around 3.30 p.m. While the police had prior information of a group representing the community submitting a memorandum, the crowd kept swelling and the protests intensified before violence broke out.

“A protest was called by the Satnami community and it was to be done peacefully. But all their people got aggressive and threw stones at the police, broke the barricades and entered the Collectorate premises. And after this, they engaged in stone-pelting and arson, and set vehicles on fire and caused a lot of damage. We are trying to extinguish the fire,” said Baloda Bazar SP Sadanand Kumar.

Visuals showed people throwing stones and the damaged Collector office.

On the intervening night of May 15-16, unidentified persons vandalised the ‘jaitkhamb’ near the Amar Gufa in Giraudpuri Dham in Baloda Bazar. Giraudpuri is the birthplace of Guru Ghasidas, a 19th century saint who is considered to be the founder of the Satnami sect, a numerically significant Scheduled Caste sect in Chhattisgarh. In Baloda Bazar-Bhatapara district, the Satnamis were around 23% of the population, according to the 2011 Census.

While the police had made arrests in the incident, the community has called for a wider probe. On the demand of various organisations and representatives of the Satnami community, Deputy Chief Minister Vijay Sharma, who also holds the home portfolio, ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident on June 10. However, the protesters went ahead with the agitation calling for a CBI inquiry.

Chief Minister Vishnu Deo Sai appealed for calm. “On the unpleasant situation that arose in Baloda Bazar district, the IG and Commissioner have been instructed to immediately reach the spot. The Chief Secretary and DGP have been summoned and preliminary information about the incident has been taken and a report of the incident has also been sought. It should be noted that Home Minister Shri Vijay Sharma had already been directed to conduct a judicial inquiry into the Amar Gufa case of Girodpuri, which was announced by him. Instructions have been given to take strict action against those who spoil social harmony and an appeal has been made to everyone to maintain peace and harmony,” he wrote on X.

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