The Congress on Wednesday accused the ruling BJP of "sponsoring" the recent communal violence in parts of Madhya Pradesh, including in curfew-bound Khargone city, and said houses of riot accused were razed without due legal process, while the State government asked authorities in districts to remain vigilant in view of the upcoming festivals.

The situation remained tense but peaceful in Khargone, which is under a curfew since Sunday following incidents of arson and stone pelting during Ram Navami celebrations, officials said and denied reports that over 100 families were forced to migrate from the riot-affected city.

Nearly 100 people have been arrested so far in connection with the violence in Khargone and 89 of them have been sent to jail, Additional Superintendent of Police Neeraj Chourasia said. The Congress blasted the BJP over the recent violent incidents in parts of Madhya Pradesh and said the statements of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Home Minister Narottam Mishra were not helpful in the maintenance of peace.

Unlawful demolition

In a memorandum submitted to the Director General of Police in Bhopal, the opposition party alleged that the houses of those allegedly involved in violence were being pulled down without following due procedure. The BJP was running a parallel law and order machinery in Madhya Pradesh, it claimed.

The ruling party has been "misusing the power" and "sponsored the communal violence in Raisen, Ratlam, Khargone and Sendhwa," the Congress alleged. While violence was reported in Raisen and Ratlam a few weeks ago, trouble broke out at Khargone and Sendhwa town during Ram Navami celebrations on Sunday. Home Minister Mishra's "inflammatory" statements were exacerbating communal tensions, the Congress claimed.

Congress legislator Arif Masood, who was part of the delegation which met the DGP, said there were instances where some dispute broke out at night and the administration started demolishing the houses (of alleged miscreants) the next morning "on the basis of a list sent by the BJP office and without ascertaining who were actually involved." Former state Congress president Arun Yadav, who led the delegation, claimed the law and order situation had deteriorated and intelligence failure was leading to incidents of violence.

Alert to the authorities

In light of violent incidents in parts of the State, the State government has issued an alert to the authorities in all districts for the upcoming festivals, Mishra said. Apart from Dr B R Ambedkar's birth anniversary and Ramzan, festivals such as Mahavir Jayanti, Good Friday and Hanuman Jayanti will be observed in the next few days.

“Several festivals are to be observed in the coming days. In view of this, all districts are on an alert. The CM has instructed all ministers in-charge of districts to keep a watch on the situation in their respective areas as a precautionary measure,” Mishra, a state government spokesman, told reporters in Bhopal.

In Khargone, officials denied reports that over 100 families were forced to migrate from the city in the wake of the communal unrest. On Tuesday, Muslim clerics had submitted a memorandum to the DGP alleging the Khargone district administration demolished many houses and properties belonging to members of the minority community in a hurried action without a probe, forcing over 100 Muslim families to migrate from the city.

However, sub-divisional magistrate Milind Dhoke on Wednesday said the reports that over 100 families were forced to migrate from different trouble-torn areas were "not true". “Those whose houses were torched or damaged in stone pelting have gone to their relatives' place and the number of such families is only two or three,” he said in a statement.

The divisional commissioner and senior police officials were camping in Khargone to review the situation. On Tuesday night, 15 suspects were taken into custody from two hotels in the Mohan Talkies area of Khargone when police and other officials went there along with bulldozers to demolish the illegal constructions there, Additional Superintendent of Police Chourasia said.

Officials’ claims

A house constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana on government land was demolished in Khargone city following the violence on Ram Navami. The house was supposed to be built somewhere else and it was being used for other than residential purposes, an official claimed.

The house, located on Birla Marg in Khaskhaswadi area, belonged to one Hasina Fakhroo (60). It was demolished on Monday by local authorities during a drive against `illegal' properties allegedly belonging to riot accused.

Police have registered four more FIRs against Congress MP Digvijaya Singh for allegedly promoting religious enmity after he tweeted a picture of a mosque in another State while commenting on communal violence at Khargone, an official said.

A First Information Report (FIR) was registered against the former CM in Bhopal on Tuesday evening after a complaint by a local resident. The four other FIRs were registered on Tuesday night in Gwalior, Jabalpur, Narmadapuram and Satna, the official said.

Singh hit back at the BJP and wrote a letter to the Bhopal police commissioner, seeking that an FIR be registered against Chouhan for allegedly posting a fabricated video about Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on May 16, 2019. The State government has constituted a two-member claims tribunal to recover damages from those involved in communal violence in Khargone, an official said.

A gazette notification for setting up of the tribunal was issued on Tuesday, he said. The tribunal, headed by retired district judge Dr Shivkumar Mishra and also comprising ex-state government secretary Prabhat Parashar, will complete the work in a period of three months, the notification said.