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Bhopal City
Non Hindus barred in Garba venues in Madhya Pradesh

BHOPAL: Posters baring ‘non-Hindus’ in Garba venues came up in Dhar, one of the communally sensitive districts of Madhya Pradesh, on the first night of Navratri, which forced the administration to act quickly.

Though no untoward incident was reported, the police removed posters hours after they were displayed at the entrance of several venues in the town. The town is about 75 km from Indore, from where the campaign against participation of Muslim men was started by BJP MLA Usha Thakur.

Dhar SP Bhagwant Singh Chouhan said that all the posters had a similar message and appeared to have been erected by one particular group. He claimed no one took responsibility for the posters so no case was registered.

The venues where these posters were displayed are neither small nor big. The SP admitted that organisers have posted volunteers at the venues and are screening people by checking their identity cards.

Meanwhile, Indore town saw a little face off between the police and members of Hindu organisations, including an accused in couple of cases of alleged Hindu terror, at Chaman crossroads on Indore-Depalpur road late on Thursday night.

Tejram, a resident of Depalpur, who is out on bail after arrested by the NIA and two other activists were stopped by the police because the trio was riding one bike. While the police on duty removed the bike key, the activists objected and reportedly claimed that they were out to check if Muslims were being allowed entry despite the campaign.

Vinod Patidar, a constable who had removed the key was reportedly roughed up as more members of the right wing organisations and the BJP joined them. SI Mahadev Singh Dhillon admitted to the face off but claimed the matter was solved. He said no case was registered.

The activists first complained to Dhillon about Patidar’s behaviour and later to senior policemen who gathered at the spot. Reportedly it was Patidar who had helped nab Tejram and the latter did not take it lightly.

While the police claimed that all posters had been removed, Hindu activists insisted only a few had been removed but at most venues they were on display.

“All those who believe in Hindu ideology are behind the Samiti and posters. All of us have heard about ‘love jihad’ and what Muslims do at Garba venues and that’s why we want to stop their entry”, said Gopal Sharma, a top office-bearer of Bhoj Utsava Samiti.

Dhar is sensitive because it’s home to a disputed shrine Bhojshala-Kamal Maula Masjid, to which both the communities lay a claim. The Archaeological Survey of India has worked out an arrangement to ensure that Hindus and Muslims offer prayer on separate days. The arrangement gets complicated when Basant Panchmi falls on Fridays and the administration tries to ensure that Muslims are allowed to offer prayers between 1 pm and 3 pm and Hindus before and after that.