As in Mumbai after 1992-93, the riots in Dhule have led to communal polarisation on a large scale.
planned. They took place simultaneously at several places. The rioters had petrol bombs, kerosene and swords and the homes and shops of both the communities were targeted in a systematic manner. Even a hutment colony of Adivasi Bhils in Devpur Bilati was burnt down.
Riot victims in relief camps are reluctant to return to their homes. The situation is so serious that the Collector is considering providing housing for them. The people are demanding security walls around their settlements. The divide is clear now. As in Mumbai after 1992-93, the riots in Dhule have paved the way for communal polarisation on a large scale. The destruction of places of worship, shops and homes, and the targeting of people along communal lines have all ensured that.
Over 300 people are under arrest, including all the leaders of the Hindu Rakshak Samiti, some of whom have criminal cases against them. A warrant is out against Sabir Khan who also has criminal cases pending against him. The police and the administration were blamed by the people of both communities for their inadequate response. Clearly, there was a lack of anticipation and poor security measures were in place. The police have defended themselves saying many of their officers were injured and they managed to control trouble by being present almost everywhere. From being a peaceful city, Dhule has become one more trouble spot in Maharashtra which has seen its third communal clash in a short span.
With elections coming up in Dhule — of local bodies and the municipal corporation — political parties are seeking to revive their vote-banks. The Opposition BJP has demanded the suspension of senior policemen and the District Collector. It has alleged that a police constable, Salim Sheikh, distributed arms in Dhule during the riots. Sheikh has been arrested. The activities of the Hindu Rakshak Samiti bear detailed investigation as also the other communal elements. Meanwhile, the homeless and those who have lost their livelihoods need to be reassured with more than words. Efforts should be made to bridge the chasm between the two communities. The administration should be more sensitive to the needs of the people.
7 months ago