Police booked nearly 100 people in two districts of Madhya Pradesh

News Desk: Police invoked prohibitory orders and booked nearly 100 people in two districts of Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday to stamp down on communal tensions that flared up a day ago after two separate attempts to damage Muslim shrines.

The tensions were sparked during rallies organised by some Hindu groups to raise funds for construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya, according to police and leaders from both sides. These rallies were passing through Muslim-dominated areas on Tuesday when the disturbances occurred, they said.

In both cases, police said it arrested miscreants responsible for the incident and that no damage was done to the shrines. Madhya Pradesh police said 96 people were booked across two districts and 28 arrested.

The first incident was reported from Dorana village in Mandsaur district. Police said some men climbed atop a local mosque, and put a saffron flag on the structure. The incident was also captured in a viral video shot during the rally.

“There was no damage to the shrine. The police immediately swung into action and removed those who were atop the shrine,” said Mandsaur superintendent of police Siddharth Chaudhary.

Police lodged four FIRs for alleged desecration of a religious place and alleged vandalism. Two separate FIRs were lodged by Hindu groups against Muslims, alleging they were abused and attacked, police said.

In rural Indore, at least eight people were injured during stone pelting and clashes during a ”jan jagran rally” by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The incident occurred at Chandankhedi village and one person was injured in a separate firing incident as well, police said.

Soon after this incident, police added, some people climbed a Muslim shrine in nearby Gautampura and attempted to damage a part of the structure. They were removed by the police and an FIR was lodged against unknown people under section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

“There was no damage to the shrine as police acted swiftly. During violence a motorbike was set afire and a man sustained injuries in a firing incident,” said Indore superintendent of police Mahesh Chand Jain.

The Hindu side lodged counter FIRs against local Muslims. In all, four FIRs were registered in the case, Jain said. A video of this incident went viral on social media.

The incidents in Indore and Mandsaur on Tuesday came days after stone pelting during a similar rally in Ujjain’s Begumbagh on December 25. Over 10 people were injured in the incident. Eight people, including two women, from Ujjain were booked for the violence and six of them, all men, under the National Security Act.

Begumbagh is a locality near Ujjain’s famous Mahakal temple where several Muslim organisations staged a sit-in against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in January and February.

Jain and Chaudhary said prohibitory orders were issued in both districts to prevent further tensions and additional police forces deployed.

On Wednesday, Muslim groups in Mandsaur submitted a memorandum to the district administration and police, alleging community members and the Dorana shrine were targeted in a pre-planned manner and the guilty should be booked under National Security Act (NSA).

Shakeel Ali, a member of Waqf Board in Mandsaur said, “There are deliberate attempts in the region to target us and vitiate the atmosphere by people from certain right wing groups. Police already knew that rally was being taken out to target members of a particular religion and create communal tension but police remained mute spectators.”

The Hindu groups rejected the charges. “The fact is our jan jagran rallies are completely peaceful but there was provocation from the other side through stone pelting incidents. The rallies were planned as a prelude to our fund-raising campaign to begin from January 14. There was no violence from any of the participants of the rallies,” said Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) state vice-president Anil Goel.