Dewas: A freak incident during a wedding celebration briefly flared up communal tensions in Madhya Pradesh’s Dewas district on Wednesday.
A Dalit wedding procession was allegedly attacked by some people while it was passing in front of a mosque in Pipalarwa village. One person died and several others sustained injuries in the attack that took place at 9 pm.
Wedding party under attack
“It was all quite sudden. The wedding procession of Shaktiman, who is from Awalataj village of Dewas district, was on its way to the bride’s home. When it was passing in front of a masjid, some people started pelting stones on us, injuring several baaraatis in the attack. This happened right outside the local police station. So a few of us approached the cops for help,” said Rajesh Malviya, a resident of Shujalpur who was part of the procession and sustained injuries in the attack.
Members of the Dalit community alleged that a mob beat them up within the police station premises as well.
The alleged attack was so aggressive that the person who died was killed on the spot after a large stone hit him on the head. The deceased has been identified as Dharmendra Shinde.
Dalit activist Deepak Vaishnav, who was present at the spot, said, “Shinde was trying to intervene, asking the mob to calm down. He was actually trying to understand the reason behind their anger, but they appeared in no mood to heed his pleas and attacked him.”
Another local Dalit activist, Manoj Parmar, said, “The groom belongs to the Ravidas community. We don’t know who exactly carried out this attack and why. The miscreants threw large stones at us. More than 10 people sustained injuries; two among these were grievously wounded.”
The two seriously injured have been identified as Rajesh Malviya and Ajay Ashtay. They are undergoing treatment at a hospital in Dewas, and their condition is said to be stable at the moment. The other injured are being treated at the local dispensary.
Parmar added that he will stay in the village until the administration provides proper security to the residents. Villagers, too, have written a letter to officials demanding increased security and justice.
Administration swings into action
According to the police, the procession party took shelter at the police station after the attack was mounted. A policeman confirmed that the mob tried to beat the procession members within the police station’s premises, and hence, personnel had to use mild force to disperse the attackers.
The administration said that to maintain law and order and ensure the communal flare-up doesn’t escalate, more than 50 policemen are being deployed in the area. “This area falls under Sonkutch tehsil. We have imposed Section 144 here to keep the peace. The SP and other officers from the district administration are camping in the locality,” said Shrikant Pandey, Dewas Collector.
He added that he also is at the incident spot to keep an eye on the goings-on, and that the administration is talking to locals and trying to defuse the situation.
However, despite the administration imposing Section 144 in the area, hundreds of people turned up for Shinde’s last rites. Locals even staged a protest with his dead body. Authorities are trying to reason with members of both communities, taking help from local leaders and activists.
Case filed, compensation announced
Based on the complaints lodged by Dalit activists, an FIR has been registered against 11 identified and some unidentified people.
“The administration has taken a proactive step to maintain law and order. We have already arrested four people in connection with the attack. We are getting complaints from both parties, and appropriate action is being taken,” said Pandey.
“Also, the administration is giving an immediate relief of Rs 4.12 lakh to the deceased’s family.”
(The author is a Bhopal-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com)
Updated Date: May 31, 2019 20:16:35 IST