(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 25, 2011
Police Guilty for Gopalgarh Episode
A TEN-MEMBER delegation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) visited Gopalgarh in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan on September 19, 2011, in order to have an idea of the episode that recently shook the state. The team comprised Rajya Sabha member Tapan Sen, CPI(M) state secretary Vasudev, its district secretary Dinesh Shukla, AIKS leaders Tak Singh and Jagdish, DYFI leader Ashok Jain, Pravesh Pachauri, Udal Singh, Satpal and Jagdish Bhagat, among others.
The team met people of various communities in the affected area from 12.30 p m to 4.30 p m, and also visited the mosque where firing had taken place and eight persons --- all belonging to the Meo community --- were killed. The team also visited the disputed land and pond in Sawai Chak where some people have been in illegal occupation of the land. The team also met the sarpanch of Gopalgarh as well as police officers.
Though there was a relaxation in curfew in the area from 11 a m to 4 p m on the day, the atmosphere was still charged with tension. Fear prevailed in the area. No post mortem of the dead bodies had taken place by the time the delegation visited the area.
People of the affected community want financial assistance, compensation to the families of the deceased, job to one member of each such family, governmental construction on the disputed land and trial of the guilty police officers. The affected Meo community is also agitated over the statement made by the DGP and the chief secretary of the state --- that no one was killed in the police firing and that the police action was justified. Apart from the Meo people, those of other communities too are afraid that violence may erupt once again.
The two major communities were holding separate meetings and confabulations, and rumours were galore when the CPI(M) team visited the area. While the Meo people had gathered in the madrasa nearby, those of the other community were seen talking in groups at various places.
Despite whatever has happened, both the communities view the whole episode as a clash between the minority community people and the police and administration. The sarpanch even told that both the communities had reached a settlement in the police station and that two MLAs were a party to the settlement, but then some anti-social elements began to spread rumours and engineered violence. However, instead of checking the veracity of the rumours, the administration and police officials resorted to indiscriminate firing at a place of worship.
Overall, an atmosphere of peace and amity had prevailed in the area for decades. But this too is a fact that, motivated by their vested interests, leaders of various communities have been exploiting the feelings of the simple-minded people of their respective communities because of the latter’s economic, social, political and educational backwardness. After having talked to a large number of people and analysed numerous facts, the CPI(M) delegation reached the following conclusions:
1) The police and the district administration are squarely responsible for the whole episode. It could not have taken place if only a settlement about the disputed land had been arrived at in time.
2) The violent clash that claimed 8 lives, was not between two communities but one between the police and a particular community.
3) Talks with the people also made it clear that the ruling Congress as well as the opposition BJP have an eye on the next assembly elections and are engaged in vote politics. In this process, they are disturbing the peace of the area and harming the traditional amity between the two communities.
4) It is evident that the atmosphere would remain communalised if there is no socio-cultural, economic and educational development in the area.
5) The district of Bharatpur, which encompasses a part of the Mewat area, has been particularly sensitive in regard to communal and casteist clashes. The Kumher episode claimed the life of 16 dalit people in 1992; still earlier, the police of Raja Mansingh resorted to firing and claimed some lives in Deeg; and yet another such event had taken place in Sinsinwar.
In view of these facts, the CPI(M) team made the following demands ---
1) Proper and adequate compensation must be given to the families of the dead.
2) At least one member of each such family must be given a government job.
3) All the guilty police officials as well as the district magistrate must be tried and punished.
4) Special attention must be accorded to development of the area.
5) The administration must take special and vigorous steps to maintain peace in the area and strengthen amity between various communities.