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Violence in Jhabua, 3 killed, dozen hurt

Violence in Jhabua, 3 killed, dozen hurt

Author: Staff Reporter
Publication: Central Chronicle
Date: January 17, 2004
URL: http://www.centralchronicle.com/20040117/1701006.htm

At least three persons were killed and over a dozen injured, most of them seriously, in group clashes in Jhabua district today, triggering tension and heavy deployment of security forces in sensitive areas.

Violent clashes and mob attacks were reported from Amkhur Alirajpur, Meghnagar and some other places, leading to worsening of the already tense situation since the rape and murder of a minor tribal girl inside a 'mission school' here.

Three persons including Arjun Pal and two tribals were killed at Amkhur village, about 80 km from here, when a procession taken out after spiritual discourses was attacked by another group, police sources said.

More than 12 persons, including women, were injured in stone throwing and armed attacks during the procession while a motorcycle was set afire and three jeeps damaged, sources said, adding that the injured were taken to hospitals in Katchiwada and Alirajpur for treatment.

Unidentified miscreants also reportedly opened fire as the procession was proceeding.

Police personnel in strength were deployed in the area to prevent any further flare-up.

Alirajpur town also witnessed violent incidents with a mob attacking a church and ransacking it, besides setting afire a jeep, sources said.

Tension also surfaced at Meghnagar where a mob damaged a statue of Gandhiji, they said.

The police said that the girl, daughter of a fruit vendor, and her brother Suraj were running the stall on Sunday when their father had moved out for a short while.

An unidentified person then arrived at the stall and asked the girl to deliver fruits to some nuns at the nearby Catholic Mission School and Church.

After the girl followed the man into the school, she went missing, the police said, adding, her body was later found in a school toilet.

The police have not been able to nab the culprit so far. Five persons have been detained on the basis of Suraj's description of the person who had come to the stall. The police have announced a reward of Rs 5,000 to anyone who offered information about the rapist.

On Wednesday, thousands of VHP and Hindu Jagran Manch activists pelted stones at the Church, home to several Catholic priests and nuns.

Uma appeals for calm

Terming the clashes between Hindus and Christians 'unfortunate' Chief Minister Uma Bharati instructed police officials to take strict action against the guilty and ensure prevention of such incidents in the future.

Uma said Ministers Kailash Vijayvargiya and Kailash Chawla would reach Jhabua on Saturday. In reply to a question regarding the large number of conversions taking place in Jhabua Uma said that there existed provisions to stop conversions in the State but these were not implemented effectively.

The large number of conversions has also resulted in greater intolerance she said. The Chief Minister however discounted the possibility of the clashes being linked in any manner to the rape of a nine-year-old girl in Jhabua last Sunday.

Uma also endorsed the steps taken by the police to bring the situation under control. The Chief Minister appealed to the people of Jhabua to maintain calm and urged parties to refrain from politicising the issue.

Meanwhile the Director-General of Police SK Das said that trouble erupted when a rally taken out by followers of Sant Aasaram reached a school which also had a church on its premises. Around a 100 people gathered at the spot and raised objectionable slogans which led to a heated argument between the two groups followed by pelting of stones in which four people were injured.

The DGP denied that the attack was pre-planned or part of any conspiracy and expressed satisfaction at the way the situation had been handled by policemen at the scene. Das described the situation as being 'under control'.

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