Chhattisgarh: A tale of 2 FIRs points to police ‘inaction’ on mob violence

No FIR filed over mob violence, but Muslim cleric, group of Christians booked for hate speech, forced conversion, respectively.

WrittenBy:Prateek Goyal
Date:
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The police are yet to file a case or arrest any suspects over two incidents of mob violence – whose videos were circulated on social media – in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur and Raigarh last week.

In both the cases, however, the police have taken action against those targeted by the mob – a cleric in Raipur who was accused of directing a minor to issue a provocative post, and several participants of a Christian prayer meeting in Raigarh who were accused of forced conversion.

The first incident took place in Raipur, a day after a 14-year-old uploaded a hateful post with a picture of the Babri Masjid. “Sabar. Jab waqt hamara aayega, tab sar dhad se alag kiye jaenge (Be patient. When our time comes, heads will be separated from bodies),” it read.

A group of angry locals allegedly barged inside the house of 22-year-old Asgar Raza, the Imam of Masjid-e-Hakeemi-Shariyat, on January 24 in Sinodha village, claimed another cleric, Imam Badshah, who lives in the locality. They told him to come to the police station, and allegedly assaulted him on the way, he said.

A video of the incident showed Raza trying to escape the mob as they chanted “if you want to live in India, you have to say Jai Shri Ram” with saffron flags.

On the basis of a complaint from locals, police arrested Raza and two other mosque committee members, identified as Mirza Tahir Baig, 41, and Ibrahim Khan, 47, after filing an FIR under IPC section 295 A at Tilda Newra police station. The minor who had uploaded the post was also lodged at a juvenile justice home after the incident. 

While the minor was released after five days on January 29, Raza, Baig and Khan were granted bail on January 30.

Raza, Baig and Khan could not be reached for comment.

Shadab Rizvi, a social activist, visited the police station along with a few other locals to lodge a complaint, but no FIR was filed. On January 30, Rizvi also met the Raipur SP and submitted a complaint seeking action.

Tilda Newra police SHO could not be reached for comment.

Asked about why the police did not register an FIR over the violence, Raipur SP Prashant Agrawal said, “We have registered the complaint but we have not arrested anyone yet as we are not able to identify anyone.”

Rizvi’s letter named at least 11 suspects who were allegedly part of the mob which attacked Raza. Agrawal, however, said, “We are trying to identify the attackers. Once we identify them, we will take action.”  

Attack on church in Raigarh

The second incident took place in a Christian prayer hall in Savitri Nagar area of Raigarh on January 27 when a group of around 20 locals allegedly assaulted members of the Christian community while accusing them of forced conversion.

A video of the incident showed a group entering the church, attacking some of those on the premises and raising slogans of Jai Shri Ram even as some try to confront the mob.

While an FIR is yet to be lodged against members of the mob, the Jute Mill police took suo motu action by arresting 14 people, including 13 Christian devotees and a human rights activist, after booking them under IPC sections 323, 295 A, 505(2), 365 and 506 (B) over alleged forced conversion. They were released on bail on January 31.

Shailendra Singh, the local activist who was among those arrested, alleged that the attack took place in the presence of the police and he was arrested for trying to stop the police from vandalising a cupboard containing Christian religious texts.

Swarna Kujur, who was among those arrested, claimed the police came after the mob entered the church premises. “It was around 10 in the morning and we were about to conduct prayers in the church…I saw a man who was standing outside the main door of the church. He first said that he had come to attend to the prayers, but didn’t come inside. Some 20 minutes later, he, along with some 20 others, came inside and started raising slogans of Jai Shri Ram. They started hurling abuses at us and accused us of doing religious conversion... the police came there, and instead of rescuing us, they started supporting them.”

Several of them claimed the police refused to register an FIR against members of the mob.

Asked about the allegations, Jute Mill SHO Ramkinkar Yadav refused to comment and disconnected the phone call.

Last year, the Supreme Court had directed states to not wait for complaints and take suo motu action over any instance of hate speech.

This report was published with AI assistance.

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