Washington, DC: The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, today strongly condemned the reign of terror unleashed by the police and city officials against Muslims in Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh, a state ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In April, when Muslims were fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, Hindu extremist groups affiliated with the paramilitary Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is the BJP’s ideological parent, organized a series of rallies to celebrate the Hindu festivals of Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti in various cities across multiple Indian states. These police-protected rallies, which involved blasting anti-Muslim songs, chanting provocative and violent slogans, and wielding weapons, were deliberately routed through Muslim localities, resulting in violence, the arson of Muslim-owned properties and businesses, and injuries to dozens of Muslims.
Several civil rights and advocacy organizations and news reports have extensively covered these violently Islamophobic processions and subsequent attacks by radical Hindu mobs in Muslim localities.
On April 10, 2022, a Hindu mob leading a Ram Navami procession in Khargone took a violent turn, leading to attacks, vandalism of mosques and shrines, and the destruction and burning of Muslim-owned houses and businesses.
According to the locals, at least two mosques, four shrines, and two Muslim cemeteries were either desecrated or set ablaze. The rampaging Hindu extremist mob attacked at least 50 Muslims, including ten women. Ibrez Khan, son of Kallu Khan, died after being tortured and attacked with swords.
“Our boy had gone to deliver Ramzan iftar to the mosque when the violence started. He had been missing for two days, and he never returned… until locals found his dead body,” Ibrez’s uncle told IAMC.
Locals told IAMC the Hindus from adjoining villages attacked their Muslim neighbors and threatened to rape Muslim women, forcing many Muslim families to abandon their villages and seek refuge in surrounding towns.
Hindu organizations and groups also issued calls for an economic boycott of Muslims throughout the region.
Following the violent attacks by Hindu mobs, the state initiated more attacks against the already victimized Muslim community. During the curfew, Muslim residences were illegally demolished by the Madhya Pradesh police after the state’s home minister Narottam Mishra called for Muslim homes to be “reduced to rubble.” At least 52 homes and businesses were demolished.
The police arbitrarily arrested, imprisoned, and tortured Muslim men in the days that followed. At least 150 Muslim men, including 14 minors, are currently languishing behind bars, the locals told IAMC.
In the middle of the night, police officers conducted raids on the Muslim homes, harassing and abducting the men and women.
“Police are breaking into our homes illegally and harassing women. They torture the males brutally and detain them. This has to stop,” Dr. Sofia, a local resident, told the media. After her statement, the police booked Dr. Sofia along with nine other Muslim women for speaking up against the state persecution.
Local Muslims have further accused police of threatening them and forcing them not to file complaints against the Hindu attackers. In some cases, the police have simply refused to entertain their complaints.
“My friend Mohsin died three years ago. His name appeared on the FIR. That is enough to reveal how biased the police investigations are…they are booking Muslims from voter lists,” Rizwan, a local, told IAMC.
As of now, police have booked 599 Muslims in 65 different FIRs, while only 6 FIRs have been lodged against Hindu extremists.
“It clearly appears a fabricated and politically motivated investigation to further target the Muslim victims and force them into silence. We condemn such state aggression against any community. We demand an objective judicial review of the police investigation and the violence that occurred on April 10, 2022, if it is still possible in today’s India” said Rasheed Ahmed, Executive Director of IAMC.