BHOPAL: Haunted by a night of horrific communal violence and fearing fresh violence in the coming days, some families have reportedly left their homes in Khargone town of Madhya Pradesh to shift to safer places in the same curfew-hit town or else shifted outside the town to relatives' places in villages in the same district.
The families who have left their homes resided in communally-sensitive areas including Sanjay Nagar, Gaushala Road, Sarafa Bazar-Baniawadi, Bhavsar Mohalla and Pathanwadi.
A family of daily wagers led by Parvati Bai is living in a makeshift shelter arranged by some people known to them in another part of Khargone town after their house was attacked and burnt in the worst-hit Sanjay Nagar locality. "We're homeless now, neither have we our place to live nor anything proper to eat. Even our animals-livestock are without any fodder. We appeal to the government to save us from dying of hunger," said Parvati Bai with tears in her eyes.
Elderly woman, Ranjana Bhavsar and kin are living with relatives now after a horrific April 10-11 night in their house in Bhavsar Mohalla.
"It all started at around 8 pm on Ram Navami on April 10 and continued throughout the night. The unending crowd of rioters attacked houses with petrol bombs and stones and sounds of gunshots too were heard. They damaged the wall of our house with stones and petrol bombs. We remained locked from inside praying for safety to god. The rioters dared my son to come out of the house and face them if he belonged to our religion, but we stopped him from going out. It continued for around three hours and the police were nowhere to be seen, despite repeated phone calls. We never thought we would survive the entire night before finally, police in force rushed in the wee hours," Ranjana said in a shuddering voice.
Another resident of Bhavsar Mohalla locality, Vishal Bhavsar hasn't left his house and wants to stay back. "Yes the situation was really bad for a day and a half, but with the massive police presence now, the situation is heading towards normalcy. We've suffered enormous material loss, but thanks to the police action now against the rioters, we're ready to stay back."
But a newspaper hawker who lived on rent with six months pregnant wife and old mother isn't ready to return soon to the minority community dominated Pathanwadi locality, where he has been living on rent on the ground floor in the house of a Muslim man Azam Bhai since over two decades.
"We stayed the entire night shivering with fear of being targeted by the rioters, who searched from one house to another, for our community people, but our landlord Azam Bhai ensured our safety. We're alive today due to his support, despite people from his community baying for the blood of our people. On April 11 morning, we left for my maternal aunt's place in Gogawan village, 15 km from Khargone town and will stay there only in near future," the newspaper hawker said in terms of his name not being published in the news.
In the worst-hit Sanjay Nagar locality, for electrician Manish Gupta, the Ram Navami evening communal violence revived the memories of the Dussehra communal violence of 2015 when riots were triggered by an attack on a Dussehra procession.
"My motorbike parked outside the house was set ablaze by rioters, but we remained safe, as the police had acted and controlled the situation within 2-3 hours at that time. But the violence this time was beyond imagination and the manner in which petrol bombs flew across the town, it seemed to be preplanned. At around 5 pm, I came to know about the Ram Navami procession having been attacked in the Talab Chowk area, which is just 1.5 km from our house. I immediately left my house in the Sanjay Nagar area with my parents, mother in law, sister in law, wife and two daughters and shifted to my paternal house in the adjoining Motipura area, which is dominated by our community. The next morning when I returned to my house in Sanjay Nagar, it was totally burnt and everything inside was gutted. Even the steel utensils were lying outside the burnt house," Gupta said.
Even the minority community members are living in fear in some areas. A middle-aged man Islam has appealed to the government to compensate his and his brother's family for their shops which have been burnt in Bhatwari Mohalla close to Sarafa Bazar. "The rioters were from other places and targeted shops and houses of our community. We appeal to the government to compensate us for losses as if someone does the crime, but somebody else is caught," Islam said.
When asked by the scribes in curfew clamped Khargone town on Tuesday about reports of many families leaving their homes and shops behind to shift to safer places in Khargone district and outside, the IG-Indore Zone Rakesh Gupta said "all such matters are under investigation and everyone's safety will be ensured."
The SDM-Khargone Milind Dhoke, meanwhile, clarified that just a few families whose houses were burnt during the communal violence have shifted to safer places/relatives' houses and not left their houses behind permanently.