BHOPAL: Violence during the rallies taken out by right-wing organizations in western Madhya Pradesh to raise funds for the Ram temple in Ayodhya has left members of the Muslim community shaken.
Police remained mute spectators even as places of worship were targeted and houses were set on fire in Indore, Ujjain and other areas in the last week of December, community members alleged.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, on the other hand, claimed that those who were taking out these processions for the Ram temple faced "pre-planned" attacks.
"I am writhing in pain and fear after sustaining injuries," said Saddam Patel, resident of Chandan Khedi village in Indore district.
"I can't talk right now," he said, speaking in a quivering voice from a hospital bed on Saturday.
On December 29, Saddam and his four brothers were injured and his house, located in an isolated area, was set on fire, his acquaintances said.
Village Sarpanch Dilawar Patel said the violence started with inflammatory slogans shouted by participants of the rally.
Saddam's family members received bullet and sword wounds, he claimed.
"The miscreants even gouged out the eyes of buffaloes and goats kept by Saddam's family," Patel alleged.
VHP Malwa region secretary Sohan Vishwakarma said that they faced stone-pelting during fund-raising rallies.
"Our people are being stoned. From where are they getting such stockpiles of stones? It looks pre-planned," he said.
He also denied reports that Muslim places of worship were defiled in Indore and Mandsaur districts on December 29.
"Police are doing their job and conducting probe," Vishwakarma added.
Congress MLA Arif Masood blamed the BJP government in the state for the situation, alleging that some ministers gave inflammatory statements.
"Police do not exist. Police officers are hapless. They are unable to take decisions," he said.
"The day violence broke out in Indore I called Deputy Inspector General of the range four times, asking him to take action but in vain," the Congress leader alleged.
On Friday, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said in Indore that stern action will be taken against mischief-mongers, "whoever they may be".
Chouhan's statement came even as a video purportedly showing some persons trying to damage a Muslim place of worship at Chandan Khedi village on December 29 went viral.
The Indore district administration demolished houses of those accused of throwing stones at the rally in the village, claiming that it was being done for road widening, after taking consent of residents.
On the same day, another rally in Mandsaur led to violence after a saffron flag was planted atop of a mosque.
"We removed the flag in 30 seconds. Seven persons have been arrested in connection with the violence. Six FIRs have been registered following complaints from both the groups," Mandsaur Superintendent of Police Siddharth Choudhary said.
Police are acting in an impartial manner, he said.
"We are angry. The accused are roaming free. We want police to arrest them," said businessman Abdul Hakim, a resident of Dorna village, 15 km from Mandsaur city.
"My properties worth Rs 20 to 25 lakh were damaged. Such anger produces rebels. Muslims remained peaceful despite violence and set an example. We should be compensated and the culprits should be punished," he said.
A demolition drive was also undertaken by the district administration after there was stone-pelting during a rally at Begumganj in Ujjain on December 25.
Officials claimed that these were unauthorized structures.
Abdul Samad, a resident of Dhar, alleged in a letter to the district magistrate that members of a right-wing group involved in fund raising brandished weapons and shouted anti- Muslim slogans.
Samad, however, could not be contacted for comments.
As a new year begins, locals want peace to be restored.
"Peace should prevail in my village. I pray that violence does not recur," said Patel, the Chandan Khedi sarpanch.