A day after they claimed victory for praying inside the Bhojshala-Kamal Maula mosque during the time meant for namaz, houses of leaders of Bhoj Utsav Samiti (BUS), which spearheads the movement to liberate the disputed structure, and the RSS office were stoned on Saturday by angry Hindu activists, who alleged a sellout.
The anger against the leaders had started building up from Friday evening, when local Hindus started voicing their displeasure publicly and on social media, within hours of the BUS and Dharma Jagaran Manch (DJM) withdrawing their call to boycott the puja, claiming that the administration had accepted all their demands.
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The sudden change of stand around 1.15 pm, by which time the administration had managed to hold a token namaz by taking a few Muslims on the rooftop, left Hindu devotees confused because till that point, they had been asked not to enter the shrine and instead make offerings at a havan kund outside. Thousands of them had heard the announcements repeatedly on the public address system.
Late on Friday night, angry locals started abusing Vijay Singh Rathore and Ashok Jain of BUS and Gopal Sharma of DJM, who are associated with the RSS. They alleged that events that unfolded on Friday were scripted in advance when the leaders met senior minister Narottam Mishra and state BJP general secretary Arvind Menon, who coordinates with the RSS, in the past few days.
The activists involved in Saturday’s attack reportedly met at Motibaug, from where a huge procession of Hindus began on Friday, and targeted the RSS office in Trimurti Nagar and the houses of Rathore and Jain. No one was injured in the stone-pelting that broke a few window panes but the attack led to tension in the town.
Fourteen people were identified from the video footage from cameras installed in the RSS office and the home of Rathore, whose father was a BJP MLA. Vijay himself was a contender for a ticket from Dhar in the last assembly elections. One of the allegations levelled against him was that he scuttled the movement in bargain for the ticket in the next election.
“The attackers could be our men or they could be from rival camps,’’ Rathore said without elaborating. He said the video footage had been provided to the police. Denying the allegation of sellout, he claimed that no namaz was offered and that the puja that began at 12.30 continued uninterrupted till sunset, including the time Hindus were not supposed to be inside to allow namaz between 1 pm and 3 pm, an arrangement finalised by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) which protects the disputed shrine.
Dhar SP Rajesh Hingankar said three of the 14 accused had been arrested.