People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 27

July 13 , 2008




Sangh Violence Engulfs Indore In Flames


Badal Saroj From Indore


INDORE, the biggest city of Madhya Pradesh, was recently in flames for several days. Some newspapers sought to portray it as a communal riot, but the whole of Indore is unanimous that it was not a riot. And that is the only ray of hope in the midst of all the violence, deaths, curfew, mayhem and terror. It was in fact a well organised mayhem, which the goons of the Sangh Parivar perpetrated with the full backing of the BJP government of the state, in criminal collusion with the police administration.

This is something unanimously agreed to by a diverse range of people --- from auto-rickshaw drivers to the doctors of the civil hospital. No matter whatever the press publishes, journalists too privately agree to it. People at large are blaming the activities of the RSS goons during the Sangh-BJP bandh on July 3 for the setback the city’s tradition of peace and harmony has suffered. This they view in context of the drive of communal polarisation the RSS has been running for the last several years. So much so that even the traders and shopkeepers who have been helping the saffron brigade with money and other things, are horrified over the July 3 bandh and the three days of curfew following it.




Everything went on in a preplanned manner on the day of the “Bharat Bandh” called for on the issue of land for Amarnath shrine. As per some plan, the whole city was apportioned between the BJP ministers and MLAs. Thousands of food packets were prepared and their distribution centres notified in advance, and thus a hint for the RSS gameplan was already given. Full arrangements for the cadres were made so that, on the fateful day, they did not go home back and remained in designated places, so that they were available any time for the mayhem.

The bandh was peaceful till the noon time and the markets were closed. But then the saffron brigade began to attack and vandalise the Muslims’ shops. Provocative slogans were raised, abuses showered and petrol bombs used in the thickly populated Muslim areas. When such activities in Barwali Chowki, Khajrana and Bambai Bazar areas did not yield any fruits, firing was resorted to in Khajrana. This claimed three lives --- of Imran, Mehmood and Anwar. Khemchand Makhija, a trade, also died here on the same day.

According to the eye witnesses, the Rapid Action Force of the police was guiding the heavily armed BJP squads when they reached the Ranipura area to enforce the bandh. In Juna Risala, it was the policemen who resorted to firing; they were not in uniform but they were not on duty either. This firing killed two boys --- Zishan Siddiqui (15) and Rizwan (17). One of them was a labourer who had just returned from work. All the shops of the Pakeeza Collections, selling ladies’ garments, were attacked. Medical stores belonging to the Muslims were not spared either. Bengali speaking Muslim workers were particularly targeted. It has been said hat every squad out to enforce the bandh was armed, and escorted by policemen.

When the video footage of those arsoning a Reliance Fresh outlet became public knowledge, the police rounded up the culprits, but the RSS got them released from the police station itself. The SP tried to persuade the SHO to release them but when the latter did not oblige, the SP made him talk to the local RSS chief who threatened the SHO.

When the citizens from minority habitations demanded a change in the behaviour of the police force, they too were attacked. Some 30 persons were seriously injured in this lathicharge but they were not properly attended in the hospitals.

The police later registered cases against 13 RSS men and some policemen but the non-arrest of 9 persons nominated for the Saanwer riots is indicative of what fate these cases too would suffer.




The local RSS office, known as the Archana Karyalaya, was the real control room in this whole duration. The Collector, IG, SP and Commissioner spent a few hours here on July 2 evening. The Collector and SP came here again on July 3 morning. It is not for nothing that the police force heavily guarded the RSS goons when they were putting parts of the city to fire.

The police prevented the namaz-e-janaza in a mosque when those killed in the first day’s violence were to be buried. The police resorted to lathicharge and firing and used tear gas here on the plea that women in the crowd were pelting stones against them. The newspapers, too, prominently published next day reports about “the minority violence” though they failed to mislead the common citizens. The latter saw that the Muslims were indeed agitated against the police partisanship but there was not a single case of clash between the two communities.

When the whole city was curfew bound, the administration bowed to the RSS pressure and allowed a rath yatra from the Chhatri Bagh, the most sensitive area. The aim of this yatra was to  provoke anti-Muslim feelings and Sumitra Mahajan, BJP MP from Indore, was seen dancing garba in front of the rath. The chief minister, Shivraj Singh Patil, openly justified this macabre show of festivity after all that arson, mayhem and murders.

The game of stoking communal passions had started two days before July 3. The brigade had already given a call for staging demonstrations in front of mosques and giving memoranda to the concerned maulvis and mutwallis. This was unheard of and had sent alarm waves in the whole city. Moreover, these people did raise unprintable slogans in front of some mosques. Demonstrations at the mosques in such sensitive area as Mukeripura and Malwah Mill were held at the prayer time so that any action by the Muslims could make the RSS game easier.

On June 2, processions with naked swords were taken out through minority habitations. On the same day, the brigade staged a gherao of the SP office, as if to warn them that they must be ready to help the goons the next day.

It must be noted here that, in Indore alone, more than 2,000 licenses for firearms have been issued in the last two years, and everybody knows who the beneficiaries are. At the same time, the VHP and Bajrang Dal were also holding their trishul distribution ceremonies in this period. The police, however, did not seize any of these weapons and engaged themselves with the search of Muslim houses in the name of arms hauls.




In the very midst of the curfew, the CPI(M), CPI and Samajwadi Party laid siege of the SP office to give voice to the people’s ire against this open police collusion with the saffron brigade. On July 5, led by CPI(M) state secretariat member Kailash Limbodia, a number of party workers demonstrated at the SP office. The police tried first to chase them away, and then to arrest them, but failed. On June 7, a number of intellectuals and writers joined hands with the Left cadres to hold a public meeting at the Regal Crossing, where they severely condemned the state government. On the same day, Badal Saroj, the CPI(M) state secretary, also reached Indore and called a meeting of party workers to plan how the police partisanship and high-handedness could be resisted. The party’s district committee has constituted squads to go to the affected areas

The Left parties have decided to soon organise a big one day dharna to press its demands. These are --- (1) judicial enquiry into the events of July 3 and 4, (2) arrest of and institution of criminal cases against Sumitra Mahajan, minister Vijay Vargiya, and all the MLAs involved in the communal conspiracy, and (3) suspension of the Collector and the SP who is a relative of the chief minister. A ten days long campaign against the police atrocities being perpetrated against the dalits, Muslims and tribals has also been planned. CPI(M) workers are going to all the localities to warn the people against the BJP rumour mongers even though the administration refused them curfew passes. The complete peace prevailing in the workers’ areas shows that the people have begun to see the brigade’s real face.

But not so the Congress, which maintained stoic silence in the first three days of the mayhem. It did not issue a single press release either. On the fourth day, former chief minister Digvijay Singh and his entourage courted arrest at the airport, and their ‘struggle’ ended with that.




The communal outfits did their best to stoke the communal flames in nearby Ujjain too, where Muslims constitute about one third of the population. On the bandh day, the saffron goons rushed to the minority habitations where they resorted to arsoning and abusive language. They tried to vandalise the vegetable market but the game was foiled by the Hindu and Muslim shopkeepers unitedly. The irritated goons then put afire the Muslims’ shops in the railway station area.

The intervention by some concerned citizens has since then diffused the situation. Badal Saroj visited Ujjain too, and helped the local party unit to chalk out a plan to heighten the citizens’ violence.

At Indore as well as Ujjain, the police are trying to hide their own criminality by raising the SIMI bogey. But people know that their was no riot whatsoever; it was sheer one-sided attack perpetrated by the RSS and its frontal outfits. Nobody is prepared to accept the SIMI bogey as not a single person arrested for alleged involvement with the SIMI has been charge-sheeted in the last four years.

The impending elections to the state assembly, due in the coming November, are the real reason behind this bout of violence. The BJP’s frustration is understandable, as it has nothing worthwhile to show as its achievement. Now the party is banking on the possibility of communal polarisation. Will this trick work? The situation in Indore promises to belie the BJP’s hopes.