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Thursday, May 19, 2022

In riot-hit Khargone, a flicker of hope: ‘Our friendship is beyond religion’

Chandoke, who is suffering from a tissue disorder, immediately sent his younger brother Amit to help Khan and his family.

Written by Iram Siddique | Khargone (mp) |
Updated: April 14, 2022 9:38:38 pm
During the demolition drive in Khargone on Monday. (Express Photo)

Around 7 PM on Sunday, 26-year-old Sumit Chandoke’s cellphone began ringing. It was his friend Sadiq Khan, crying for help with an agitated mob pelting stones at his house located about 500m from Chandoke’s house in the Sanjay Nagar locality of Khargone in Madhya Pradesh.

Chandoke, who is suffering from a tissue disorder, immediately sent his younger brother Amit to help Khan and his family. “By the time my brother reached there, Sadiq’s house was burning. Amit rushed their kids to their relatives’ house further inside Sanjay Nagar before returning to save their two-wheeler, which the rioters were trying to set ablaze. In the bid to rescue Sadiq’s family, Amit was manhandled by the rioters,” Chandoke said.

So far, the police have filed 33 FIRs in the Khargone violence and arrested 121 people. The district administration has, meanwhile, demolished 16 homes and 34 shops in four localities where the clashes occurred during Ram Navami processions, including Sanjay Nagar.

Today, in the toxic afterburn of the communal clashes, the story of Chandoke and Khan stands out as a beacon of hope.

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“I did not think twice before sending my brother because when I was undergoing an operation for necrosis, Sadiq stood by me. It felt right to help him in his hour of need,” said Chandoke who works along with Khan at a private hospital.

Khan’s joint family of 14 not only became homeless but lost almost all their possessions to arson that followed the clashes.
“It started with stone-pelting and within minutes, they were outside our home. We could hear the mob saying, ‘Ye Khan ka ghar hai, phodo’, as they read the name written on the wall outside,” said Khan’s elder brother Dilawar.

“We have nothing left, except for the motorcycle that Amit managed to remove from the house. He helped us with our children and in the process got attacked,” Dilawar said.

The clashes first erupted near the Talab chowk mosque and within minutes, spread to colonies in the surrounding areas, including Sanjay Nagar, Qazipura, Tavdi Mohalla, Anand Nagar, Bhausar Mohalla and Khaskhaswadi.

As news of the clashes spread, residents in Sanjay Nagar, with a mixed population of Muslims and Hindus, braced for the worst.
Saqiq’s neighbour Noor Jahan, 55, recalled how her friend Suman Prajapati reached out that day.

“My daughter-in-law Najma Bi and I were alone in the house when rioters started banging on our door. We pushed our belongings towards the door to prevent them from breaking in. But by night, we were scared of staying there alone. That was when Suman didi asked us to come over to her house,” said Noor Jahan.

Prajapati said: “It was risky to leave them alone, so I called them to my house. We are neighbours and have stood for each other always. Our friendship is beyond religion.”

For 45-year-old Manjula Bai, who was hit by a stone on the forehead, this was the third time her house had been gutted in a communal clash. “Our house was burnt in 1992, in 2015, and now again. We wanted to move away but we got a house allocated under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana on this plot, so we reluctantly got it constructed,” she said.

Laxmi Muchal, 24, was preparing for the “happiest occasion” of her life, with the “haldi” ceremony scheduled on April 11 and wedding on April 14. “We had made all the bookings, from music to food. My baarat was to come from Rajasthan but on the day they were to leave, curfew was imposed in Khargone,” she said. “All of us are unsure about what will happen now.”


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