Edit/Op-Ed

Gopalgarh Riot and its Slow Probe: A Question of Injustice

Syed Mohammad Raghib 

It’s going to be one year in few days of Gopalgarh incident in which 10 Muslims Meo were killed and out of 23 injured 19 were Meo by Police firing. Mobs of Gujjar, RSS and other anti social elements, rioters looted the property of minority Meo Muslims but the process to provide justice for the victims is still under slow process. Finally Rajashtan High Court Wednesday directed the CBI to finish its probe in three months. Justice Ajay Rastogi of the High Court’s Jaipur Bench passed order and rejected the bail application of one of accused. CBI arrested 13 persons in which 8 are Gujjars and Five are Meo Muslims but not a single policemen accused of firing on the mosque when the people were assembled for prayer of Asar  (around 4-35 PM) on 14th of September 2011.

The incident happened last year for a piece of land near the mosque and the tension was for several years. When last year on 14th of September 2011, Gopalgarh district of Bharatpur (Rajasthan) where Muslims which called Mea and Gujjar dominated areas were a pre-planned way Muslims lost their lives and their property as well. The Meo, Meena and Gujjars shares many cultural activities and similarity such kind of communal violence had not been reported in these region in the past even not even during the partition.

After the riot many organisation visited there like (PUCL’s team led by Kavita Srivastava, Shabnam Hashmi’ team with reporter of TCN’ s Mr. Ali, SFR team along with student of JNU including me. JMI and DU, DSU team including Student of JNU, JMI and DU) to calculate the real situation of the site and they informed by the victims that the Gujjar and Police both attacked together and fired several round of bullets, many bullets marks i saw on the wall of mosque when I entered into masjid and I was part of being fact finding team after one week of police firing.

The victims unilatery demanded CBI enquiry and resignation of home minister of Rajasthan Shanti Dhariwal which defended the police firing that time, but their initially demand of CBI probe and resignation of Home Minister rejected, even central minister and many political figure visited  Goplagarh including Rahul Gandhi. Congress was feared that they may lose Muslims Meo vote bank which is from very beginning was part of congress vote bandk. Some other organisation like Jamait Ulema e Hind and Jamat-e-Islami Hind also demanded judicial enquiry and CBI enquiry. Both Jamat, PUCL and other organisation demanded resignation of Home Minister which later come true due to huge pressure over Gahlot government. Even Gahlot was called for consultation to Delhi by High Command over the issue how to save the vote bank.

Victims blamed administration including DM and SP because of their inaction on time and one of the important thing is that police station is very close to spot where the dispute started and administration hardly active to resolve the dispute. We can imagine when Police men were involved then there is no need to knocks the door for their help. The role of police in such situation is always bias or one sided, in this case also half of the 19 policemen at the local police station were Gujjars, Meos, therefore rarely approach the police station for help. The condition of Meo is not good specially they are facing education, not a single good education institution, primary school, high school and hospital set up in their locality and one of the more important thing their will is also not much towards the education. They only get Islamic education in madrasas for two and three years then they stop their education. Meo hardly get chance in Police and in administration and always puppet of vote bank politics and government behave them like slave.

PUCL’s Srivastava claimed there was evidence of RSS in inciting the mob. “We interviewed two senior police officers who said a bunch of RSS members from Bharatpur were present then,” she said.

MLA Khan had similar allegations. “BJP and RSS members, including Giridhari Tiwari and Dr. G C Kapoor from Bharatpur, were present at Gopalgarh during riot,” she said.

VHP Deeg district president Manjit Singh Gulati confirmed they were in Gopalgarh when riots broke out. “They went there to resolve the dispute,” he said.

                                       (These three statement taken from Times of India dated 17/09/2011).

Apart of that these region where the Muslim inhabitants of Mewat are called Meo. The areas of three district where these Meos settled are collectively called Mewat. Mewat has 1200 villages, 550 in Harayana, 600 villages in Rajasthan and 50 villages in UP. Mewat is also district in Harayana which has it’s headquarter in Nuh.

These Meo Muslims have their own history, there are very brave and soldier attitude. Hasan Khan Mewati was a well know chieftain from Mewat and he fought against Babur in the Battle of Khanwa in 1527. One another worrier Hazi Khan Mewati one of the commanders of Hindu King Raja Hem Chandra Vikramaditya popular as Hemu, had helped Hemu at a critical juncture to defeat Akbar’s army at Battle for Delhi in October 1556. Meos held many important positions in the army of Hindu Raja and native Afghan ruler due to their brave and quality of war.

Finally there is need to speedy probe and install the rule of law and try to heal the wound of victims and their family by providing them financial support and job in government department specially in police so in future police force did not behave one sided like this.

(Syed Mohammad Raghib is a doctoral research scholar in Centre for West Asian Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He can be reached at [email protected] )

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