At least 12 people, including two children, have been killed recently in communal violence which erupted in Malpura town of Tonk district, Rajasthan, despite an indefinite curfew remaining in force in the riot-affected areas.
The trouble began after three unidentified assailants stabbed Kailash Mali to death on July 10. He was a BJP leader notorious for mobilising a crowd to attack Muslims in the wake of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. In that riot, 26 people had died and he was named as the main suspect. According to local authorities, he was a "terror" in the area and was instrumental in inciting people to kill members belonging to the Muslim community.
Soon after the news of his death spread around Malapura, all the shops closed down and people gathered in groups. In spite of police patrolling, they attacked some people working in the fields and killed four of them.
The violence continued when a group of armed people stopped a jeep coming from Todaraising. They killed the passengers in the jeep and injured two women seriously.
Although the senior police officials camping in Malpura and Tonk were assigned to monitor the situation, a mob of 100-120 people attacked a Muslim locality and set fire to a mosque in Tordi village, 16 kilometres from Malpura town.
The rampaging mob killed a Muslim woman Bhoori, wife of Babu Khan, and injured their four children. The children were taken to an area hospital.
Director-general of Police (administration) Ashok Bhandari said that some residents of Tordi village had given a bandh call and taken out a procession in the village. Bhoori, who runs a shop, had refused to close down her establishment. As a result, a mob attacked her and her children with sticks and weapons. A cycle-repair shop and a house in the vicinity were also burnt.
Communal violence also took place recently in some areas of Jhalawar and Tonk districts during a BJP-sponsored bandh where curfew was not in force.
In the entire episode, the sheer negligence of the police department has come to light. The authorities made no attempts to arrest those who were responsible for inciting the mob violence and no precautionary measures were taken to protect the Muslim community.
The BJP leaders who always blame the Pakistan's ISI for any mishap in the country have a taken a U-turn at this time, charging the ruling Congress-I with trying to escape the responsibility under the cover of ISI. "Congressmen themselves are fuelling rumours of an ISI conspiracy to cover up the failure of the state machinery in preventing the riots," said state BJP president, Bhanwar Lal Sharma.
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