The homes of two dozen Muslim families were torched on Saturday in Madhya Pradesh after a youth from the community eloped with a minor Rajput girl. “If you don’t hand over the man and our girl within two hours, we will set every house on fire. If you don’t leave the village after that and try to intervene, no one will be spared,’’ a section of Hindu villagers had allegedly warned Muslims before torching almost every property owned by the minority community.
The father of the girl, reported missing on July 4, is a deputy sarpanch. The girl is believed to have got off midway from the school van after reportedly telling her brother she was going to a relative’s house. The family lodged a complaint when the Class XI student did not return home in the evening. Police said the girl had fled with Shabir Ali, who is in his early 20s.
Nearly two dozen houses were targeted in the frenzy that lasted several hours on Saturday. No shrine belonging to Muslims was damaged. The couple was traced to Nagpur and brought to Nasrullaganj village on Monday and Shabir was charged with rape and kidnapping. He has been sent to jail custody and the girl handed over to her parents.
Quresha Bi said, “Why should the entire community be punished for the fault of one person, we asked. We said, ‘kill the accused when you find him but spare us’. But they were in no mood to listen.’’ The police have so far arrested six people in connection with the case of arson.