The demolition drive occurred a day after violence had broken out in the city during the Ram Navami procession, with claims that some people had allegedly hurled stones at the procession–in objection to loud and provocative music being played at the event. In the violence that ensued after the episode, at least 24 people, including the Khargone Superintendent of Police Siddharth Choudary, were injured in the violence.
Accordingly, a curfew was imposed in Khargone on Sunday restricting the movement and gathering of people. Moreover, more than 80 people have been arrested since the incident–for causing large-scale arson and rioting.
Following the riots that occured on Sunday, at least 16 houses and 29 shops were demolished in four locations in Khargone on Monday. Justifying the reasoning and timing of the demolition drive, the authorities stated that they belonged to people accused of pelting stones at the procession a day earlier.
“All the shops and houses that have been demolished so far were illegal structures constructed on encroached land. There were reports of stone pelting from these areas after which action was taken” Sub Divisional Magistrate Milind Dhoke told the Indian Express.
Out of the 12 shops demolished in Talab Chowk area, eight were run by Muslims and the remaining four were handled by Hindus. All the 12 shops were part of the Khargone Jama Masjid complex and owned by the masjid committee. The demolition drive came in the aftermath of several statements made by BJP politicians concerning the Khargone riots.
The Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan stated that damage caused to public and private properties (on Sunday) will be recovered from rioters–vowing strict action against miscreants. Similarly, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said houses from where stones were hurled at the procession will be turned into rubble.
In conclusion, the arbitrary targeting of a certain community through the use of the state’s monopoly over violence and repression has left Khargone in a state of desolation. In the aftermath of the demolition drive, the Madhya Pradesh High Court on June 9 issued a notice to the state government related to the demolition of a Muslim trader’s shop in the town following communal violence. The government in turn asked for a deferral-and the answers to the alleged illegal anti-encroachment drive are awaited.