Communal tensions seem to have simmered in Chhattisgarh once again, as a video of villagers in Chhattisgarh’s Sarguja, pledging to not conduct commercial transactions with Muslims in their area has gone viral. While the police on Friday instituted an inquiry, the district collector said that senior officials of the administration had visited the village earlier.
In the video which has gone viral, villagers from Kundi Kala are heard pledging to not do business with Muslim shopkeepers. “We Hindus will only allow any salesperson in our village after ensuring that they are not Muslim,” the villagers repeat the pledge in the video.
According to senior police officials, the incident is from the Lundra region in Sarguja district and started off as a local brawl on New Year’s Day. “Some youth from the neighbouring Ara village in Balrampur district had come to Kundi Kala on January 1 for a picnic. They had a brawl with some locals which intensified after more men from Ara joined the youth and attacked a family in the village,” said ASP Vivek Shukla.
Virendra Yadav, a resident of Kundi Kala, registered an FIR at the Lundra police station on January 3, alleging that he and his family members were beaten up by the men from Ara. In his complaint to the police, Yadav claimed that the men tried to forcefully take his niece with them and attacked her when she resisted.
After Yadav’s complaint, an FIR was registered against the men, police said, and the men were kept in custody for a short while. “They were later given bail by the court,” Shukla said.
Villagers of Kundi Kala claimed that the Muslim men then returned with firecrackers and burst them near the victim’s house in a show of celebration. After this, the villagers said, they approached the police station to register their protest.
In a Gram Sabha called by the local village representatives on January 5, the villagers pledged to not let Muslims enter their village and to not buy items from Muslim-owned stores.
Police officials have registered a complaint against unknown people for misleading the villagers. “We spoke to the villagers and they understood what was wrong. We are going through the footage to find out who were the perpetrators of this communal tension in the area,” a senior official said.
District Collector Sanjeev Jha, who sent members of his administration to the village, said: “Few people are trying to give communal angle to the issue, which will not be allowed.”
The incident in Sarguja comes months after communal tensions soared in Chhattisgarh’s Kawardha district. In Kawardha, a week-long curfew was announced, after two groups got into a heated fight over religious flags. A mob addressed by BJP and VHP leaders had then gone on a rampage destroying property and other items of local Muslims. While Kawardha had a sizeable Muslim population, Sarguja has 3% Muslim population.