Fear continued to stalk the streets of Vidisha town days after a Hindu mob went on a rampage attacking Muslim houses, shops and religious places during a 19-year-old Bajrang Dal activist’s funeral. Deepak Kushwaha, the activist, was stabbed to death on Saturday last; a Hindu is among the 13 people arrested for his murder.
The stoning and arson on Sunday coincided with a bandh that Hindu organisations had called to protest Deepak’s murder. The situation went out of control despite the presence of security personnel. Several houses had been torched while many Muslim residents had fled by the time curfew was imposed. The displaced remained fearful of returning. The town was limping back to normalcy with 11-hour curfew relaxation for the second day on Thursday. But residents said they still had a tough time buying essentials and queuing up for replacing demonetised notes.
“Muslims are still wary of standing in queues for the fear of being attacked,’’ said community leader Siraj Ahmed. He said that Muslims as a community had nothing to do with the murder but they were punished. “It was essentially a fight between two goons but… the whole Muslim community… suffer(ed) its consequences,’’ said Ahmed, who plans to lead a delegation to Bhopal to apprise the government of the violence .
Hafiz Siddique, a teacher, said the mob stormed a madrasa near main murder accused Kallu Murga’s house and destroyed his property. The rioters smashed windows of Murga’s home and torched his van too. Even the local municipal administration flattened some shops to pacify the mob. The Muslim community has alleged that some innocent people had been framed in the case.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad functionary Malkhan Singh Rajput justified the violence. “What will happen if a Hindu is brutally murdered in broad day light? The Hindu community will get angry. It is a normal reaction. What is so big about it?’’
Deepak’s brother and Bajrang Dal activist, Sooraj, warned of consequences if the rioters were arrested; he accused Muslims of violence in the past. “There were 5,000 people on the streets. Will you arrest them all?’’
Sooraj claimed that Deepak would often object to “illegal activities” of his alleged murderers and that is why he was killed.
Sooraj claimed that the assailants wanted the piece of land on which their house stands. He called it one of the main disputes and added that Deepak was a cow protector. “He would often take lead in challenging anti-socials who taunted Hindu girls.’’ Deepak’s family has demanded a government job for one of his kin besides Rs 10 lakh compensation saying that his life could have been saved had the police acted on his complaint.