Gopalgarh riot: Gehlot meets victims, accepts police atrocities on Muslim

By Md. Ali,,

New Delhi: In the first ever indirect admission of the police atrocities on Meo Muslims, during the communal violence in Gopalgarh, on Saturday, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot criticized the role played by the local police and administration in dealing with the riot, which broke out after clashes between Gujjars and Meo Muslims on September 14.

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Apparently defending the local Meo Muslims, Gehlot said that the distance between the mosque, which witnessed the bloody clashes and the police station, is 400 meters; So had the Muslims attacked the police, the dead bodies would have been found near the police station.

Ashok Gehlot

Gehlot was on his first visit to the riot hit area of Gopalgarh in Bharatpur district in Rajasthan, in which 8 people died and more than 30 were injured. His visit was the second most important visit from the state government, after the visit of the home minister Shanti Dhariwal, but Dhariwal’s visit had only worsened the matter because of his alleged remarks favoring the role of local police during the riot.

Gehlot also accepted the mistakes of the local administration in dealing with the communal clashes, saying that undoubtedly, the local administration committed blunders which could have been avoided and thereby the lives of so many people would have been saved, had the administration dealt with the situation more judiciously.

Sending a strong message of strict punishment to the culprit police officers, the CM said that mistakes and acts of irresponsible mischief by the local administration during the riot, won’t be tolerated at all.

Gehlot met the family members of the deceased in a locked room and assured them of complete help and rehabilitation, through job to their one family member and compensation of 5 lakh to every family.

He also held several closed room meetings separately with the elders of Gopalgarh village, a delegation of the local Gujjars, local officials and journalists.

Gehlot also visited the mosque and saw the blood stains on its floor and the well in which the burnt bodies of two Meo Muslims were found. He also inspected the controversial Eidgah land which triggered the communal clashes. He did an extensive inspection of the houses and shops burnt and looted by the rioters and instructed them to give proper estimate of the worth of the properties affected by the riot.

When asked about the exact role of policemen in the killing of 9 Meo Muslims, Gehlot said that the picture will be clear only after the CBI and the judicial enquiries. He also instructed the state police chief, not to engage the DM, SP and other policemen, who were earlier removed because of their mishandling of the riots, in any government work.

Gehlot’s visit and extensive meetings and inspection of the mosque and the violence hit spots in the village, is being seen as his attempts to patch up in the face of severe criticism by even his own party members of his administration’s handling of the communal riot. A delegation of the Central Congress leadership, which had visited Gopalgarh and had met the victims of the riots, had strongly criticized the Gehlot government’s mishandling of the incident.

The CM is under immense pressure from the Central Congress leadership to deal with the culprits behind the communal violence. The Gopalgarh violence was third incident of communal violence in a row in just last one year, because of which a section in the Congress party thinks that the Gehlot regime is increasingly being seen as an anti-minority regime.

With the assembly elections in Rajasthan and UP which also shares few bordering districts with Rajasthan, in coming years, the Congress party doesn’t want to be seen as anti-Muslim party.

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[Photos by Md Ali,]