People's Democracy

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


No. 40

October 02, 2011



Administration Guilty of Partisan Behaviour




NERO was busy playing on his flute when Rome was burning. The saying came like a sordid reality when a dispute between two communities over a pond and the surrounding land in Gopalgarh town of Bharatpur district (Rajasthan) assumed a heinous shape on September 14 morning. The daylong stone-pelting, arson and vandalism were followed by police firing in the evening that claimed nine lives, six of whom died on the spot and three later, in a hospital. A large number of people were injured.


During the whole episode the police force remained mute spectators in the very presence of the district magistrate and superintendent of police. The force did intervene but only after the situation threatened to go out of control, and that too in a partisan manner. Without any prior warning and without first trying lathicharge to control the situation, they opened fire against the people of a particular community who had gathered in a mosque and around it. This led to a serious loss of life and property. If only the police had allowed the crowd to disperse and the minority people to come out of the mosque, the situation could not have taken an abominable dimension.




The district of Bharatpur in Rajasthan adjoins two states --- Uttar radish and Haryana. It has been witness to communal riots and caste clashes several times in the past --- before the country’s independence as well as later. Horrendous communal riots took place in Mewat area at the time of the country’s partition, mainly because of the partisan attitude of the then prince of Bharatpur. These riots claimed thousand of lives, and many more numbers migrated to Pakistan at the time. In the post-independence era, horrible caste riots took place in Kumher tehsil in 1992, during the BJP misrule, when more than 18 dalits died. The area has attained notoriety because of the caste clashes at Sinsin and because of the firing opened buy the private police of Raja Maansingh, the former ruler of Deeg, during the Congress rule. The region is still considered sensitive to caste equations and any minor incident may be given the contours of a casteist clash.     


During the BJP misrule, again, Bharatpur and Dausa districts were the centres of a Gurjar movement when the police firing took 70 lives. Murders because of mutual rivalries, thefts and robberies, and deterioration of the law and order situation are quite common phenomena in this area. This whole area is known as Mewat, which encompasses two districts of Rajasthan --- Alwar and Bharatpur --- and the Mewat district and some other areas of Haryana. It is a Meo preponderant area, and agriculture is the main occupation of these people. It is one of the most backward areas of Rajasthan, in terms of economy, education, culture and social values. The levels of poverty are frightening here. In such a situation, the casteist, pro-clan and communal forces are dominant here. They are able to raise their head because of the fact that democratic consciousness and mass movements are quite weak here. The Congress and the BJP have been mutually competing to real electoral dividends by exploiting the casteist and communal sentiments of the people.




The revenue department of the state had, about ten years ago, entered the land of a government pond in Gopalgarh in the name of a graveyard. The villagers have illegally occupied the rest of the surrounding land here. But tension grew between the two communities when the minority community people demanded that these illegal occupations of the land meant for their graveyard must be vacated, and action was initiated under Section 91 B. There was also an altercation in the court compound on the same issue on September 13, 2011, but the police action diffused the situation. On September 14, held in the presence of Kama MLA Zahid Khan and city MLA Ms Anita Singh, a common panchayat of the two communities decided to resolve the issue amicably. However, when the panchayat was over and the participants reached Ladmaka Road crossing, some anti-social elements resorted to arson and vandalism. The police did not act to bring the situation under control, and remained mute spectators. After some time, however, the police opened firing without issuing any prior warning to anyone or all, and without trying any other method, e g of lathicharge. Moreover, the police firing targeted the minority community people only. When the people took shelter in the nearby mosque in order to save themselves from firing, the police targeted the mosque itself --- first from outside and then by entering the mosque. The firing was horrific. According to the police data itself, 210 rounds were fired in all, and 8 teargas shells were also used. So far, nine persons have died due to firing and more than 20 were seriously injured. There were bullet marks on the walls of the mosque, pieces of bricks and stone were scattered all around, and there marks of the dead and injured persons’ blood on the spot --- like so many spots on the face of humanity. After the situation went out of control, curfew was clamped in five police station areas covering Gopalgarh as well as Kama and Pahari tehsils. The curfew continued till much later, and it was in force from 10 a m to 5 p m and then from 12 noon to 4 p m on the day a CPI(M) delegation visited the town. Section 144 was imposed in four more tehsil areas.




Severe tension still prevails in the whole area. Post mortem of the dead bodies had not taken place by the time of writing these lines; nor were the relatives of the dead prepared to bury them. All the dead and the injured belonged to the same community. The government has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh in cash for each of the deceased and a job to one member of his family, and has also replaced the district magistrate, the superintendent of police and the additional superintendent of police, who were present on the spot, by new ones. But it has not initiated any action against the guilty officers. People of the minority community have left the town and are living elsewhere. Rumours are galore. While the minority community people are incensed over the injustice meted out to them by the government, the BJP, the main opposition party, has already started its attempts to exploit the communal sentiments. Former Bharatpur prince, Raja Vishwendra Singh, is talking of “Meo-Jat unity” and independent parliamentarian Kirori Lal Meena is talking of “Meo-Meena unity.” They are now busy attending Meo panchayats with these caste equations in mind, and are trying to further communalise the situation. Now Gurjar leader Kirori Lal Bainsla too is trying to jump into the fray with his slogan of “Meo-Gurjar unity.”


The most shameful role has been that of the ruling party, the Congress. Rajasthan home minister Shanti Dhariwal, chief secretary S Ahmed and DGP Harish Meena fully exonerated the police and administration of any culpability regarding the dispute that arose because of illegal occupation of Khasra Number 642 in Gopalgarh and described the consequent tension and violence as a communal riot. On the other hand, the Congress delegation of four MPs, constituted by state Congress president Dr Chandrabhan at the instance of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, has held the district administration and the police set-up as squarely responsible for the whole episode. The BJP’s parliamentary team too dubbed the police administration as guilty. The chief minister is confused, and unable to understand whose version he should uphold --- of his home minister and the chief secretary or of the state Congress chief and the Congress delegation! The top state level leaders of the BJP did not even deem it necessary to visit the incident site. After all, the dead and the injured belonged to the minority community!


Discontented to the core by the lack of any action against the guilty officials, the Meos organised on September 20 a big Mahapanchayat at Bimba village under the Ferozepur Jhirka police station in Mewat district of Haryana. Thousands of minority community people from Haryana and Rajasthan, including some MLAs and former MLAs, attended it. The Mahapanchayat demanded the martyrs status for those killed in police firing at Gopalgarh, allotment of 25 bighas of land for a Martyrs Memorial in Bharatpur or Alwar, and sanction of Rs 50 lakh for the same purpose. It also demanded a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the family of each of the deceased as well as dismissal of the district magistrate and police superintendent and their trial under article 307 IPC. The congregation decided not to accept the dead bodies for burial till the demands are met.


In Gopalgarh and many of the surrounding villages, markets have so far remained closed despite a relaxation in the curfew. People are running away from the sensitive areas.   


It was in this situation that a CPI(M) delegation visited Gopalgarh on September 19 and held conversations with a large number of people in the town. (See People’s Democracy, September 19-25 issue.) The party has some concrete steps that, if implemented earnestly, can help restore the confidence of the minority community, bring the situation back to normalcy and forge a sense of amity among the people living in this area. Punishment to the guilty police officials and adequate development of the area are two key points among the demands the CPI(M) has raised.