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Friday, September 30, 2022

“Muslims shut shops just before Karauli violence started”: Another Hindu exodus looms large, here is what the victims said

Days after a Muslim mob attacked the residents of Karauli, Rajasthan, on the auspicious day of the Hindu new year, the looming threat of exodus of Hindus from the area has arrived. After they were attacked and their shops were looted, the Hindus residing in the area do not want to stay in the Muslim-dominated locality anymore as they fear for their life.

Speaking to Republic Bharat, the victims of the recent Karauli communal clashes, where the mob mercilessly attacked Hindus on the day of the Hindu new year, said they do not feel safe in Karauli and planning to move to other secure location with their families.

Chandrashekhar Garg, a resident of Hatwara Bazar in the city, said his family ran a departmental store for the last six decades in the locality. On that fateful day of April 2, Garg narrated, he was sitting in his shop running his business as usual. He added that at around 15:30 hours, Muslim shop owners closed their shops entirely and left the locality.

“We run around eight shops, all close to the shops run by Muslims. At around 15:30, they suspiciously closed the shops and left the area. They were assembling at a place. But, we did not worry much as we all know them very well. However, they took out a rally and at around 19:00 hours, they forcefully removed us from stores. My father and brother were thrown by the angry mob out of the stores forcefully, who then looted the entire shop.” said Garg.

As Garg tried to stop them, the mob attacked them and vandalised their shop. My father was attacked, said Garg, as he cried helplessly. He also added that the Muslim mob set fire after robbing everything from the shop.

Garg, who has now lost his three shops in the attacks, said they tried to contact the fire brigade. Shockingly, the fire brigade did not respond to their calls, instead, they deployed three to four teams to help Muslims and not Hindus.

“All the shops owned by them are safe. The mob specifically targetted the Hindu shops and set them on fire,” added Garg, accusing the Muslim mob of meticulously planning the attacks on Hindus in advance.

Now, fearful of another round of attacks from the Muslim mob, Garg and his family have decided to move out Hatwara Bazar area.

“The Hindus want to quit Karuali and leave the town. They will push us outside, we are very fearful. We are being attacked. We are leaving this locality, said Chandrashekhar Garg.

Karauli attack was pre-planned, there will be more attacks on us, says a resident

Another elderly victim, Ramesh, who is in his 60s, also corroborated the claims made by his neighbour Garg. Ramesh said he owned two shops, one a provisions store and a milk vending booth, which was explicitly targeted by the Muslim mob.

“My shops and house were all burnt down by the mob. I have been running this business for the last 35 years, now they have burnt it down,” said Ramesh, who is perturbed after the April 2 attacks.

The resident of Hatwara Bazar, Ramesh, also said that the Muslim mob took out a rally on Saturday noon and later in the evening, they assembled and attacked, looted and set fire to shops owned by Hindus.

“They thrashed us, forced us to run away from the shop. We were not allowed even to save our shops. It was a pre-planned attack on us. They looted my dairy and vandalised our scooters. Our workers had to run for life. We saved our lives as we hid inside the closed doors. Half an hour later, the mob attacked us again. We are shocked and do not want to open the shops. This is a very troubling time for us,” said Ramesh speaking to Republic Bharat.

Interestingly, the residents all confirmed that they knew the attackers very well as they had been neighbours for many years. “We lived like brothers, but they attacked us. The Muslims closed their shops just before the attacks,” noted Ramesh, who is too now afraid to stay in the locality after the violence.

They looted our shops in front of our eyes, Rajasthan government will not help us: Hindu resident

Similar attacks were unleashed on Hemant Agarwal, who runs a provisions store in the Bazar area. According to Agarwal, the mob looted goods worth Rs. 20 lakhs. We have suffered a lot, said Hemant, narrating that they had opened shops as usual.

“At around 17:00 hours, the mob attacked us. We started closing the shops, but the mob attacked and looted us. The enraged mob looted us, we cried and begged them. But, they did not listen to us. They attacked and looted our shops and set them on fire,” said Hemant Agarwal, who runs the biggest shop in the area.

“We are so helpless now, said Hemant, adding added that the Ashok Gehlot-led government is not helping them in any manner. “The people who looted us were our neighbours, if the government wants to take action, they can do it, but they are reluctant,” he added.

“We do not have anything to eat, we do not know what to do. We do not want to stay here as we fear our lives. So our family is thinking to leave this place for good,” Agarwal said, adding that they will return to Karauli again.

Karauli attacks

On April 2, communal violence broke down in the Hatwara Bazaar area of Karauli when miscreants pelted stones at a Hindu bike rally while more than a dozen shops and three bikes were set on fire.

Reportedly, 43 people, including policemen, were injured in the mob attack while the rally was celebrating ‘Nav Samvatsar’ passed through a Muslim-dominated area. All were admitted to the district hospital. The condition of a person named Pushpendra is said to be serious. He has been referred to Jaipur.

Four policemen accompanying the rally were also injured in the stone-pelting on the bike rally. The reports said that there were knife marks on the body of the injured who reached the hospital.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan Police have imposed a curfew, and internet services have been shut down in Karauli.

(This article was first published on opindia.com on April 8, 2022 and has beenr reproduced here in full.)

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