At Jaisalmer shel­ter, no food for Mus­lims forced out of vil­lage

The Northlines - - NATION -


Forced to leave their vil­lage in western Ra­jasthan fol­low­ing al­leged threats from up­per caste Hindu vil­lagers, about 20 Mus­lim fam­i­lies are now star­ing at an­other cri­sis.

The district ad­min­is­tra­tion, which ar­ranged a tem­po­rary shel­ter for them in Jaisalmer, has failed to pro­vide them food for last two days. Lack of fa­cil­i­ties at the shel­ter has left them, es­pe­cially women and chil­dren, in the lurch. Around 150 mem­bers of th­ese 20 fam­i­lies do not want to re­turn to their homes in Dan­tal, around 700 kms from Jaipur. They have urged the district ad­min­is­tra­tion to shift them to an­other safer lo­ca­tion. The fam­i­lies left their vil­lage fol­low­ing a string of events that be­gan with the killing of a Mus­lim folk singer, al­legedly by a Hindu priest and his broth­ers. The priest, Ramesh Suthar, who is a tra­di­tional oc­cultist, has been ar­rested on charges of while his broth­ers are ab­scond­ing.

Suthar is ac­cused of killing 45-year-old Aa­mad Khan for his “poor singing” dur­ing a Navra­tri func­tion at the vil­lage tem­ple on Septem­ber 27. Khan’s body was found out­side his house the next day. The Ra­jputs al­legedly threat­ened Khan’s fam­ily against go­ing to po­lice to re­port the killing. Khan’s fam­ily qui­etly buried the body.

How­ever, af­ter their rel­a­tives from nearby vil­lage came and as­sured them of help, Khan’s fam­ily lodged a case against Suthar and his two broth­ers.

Mean­while, 20 fam­i­lies of Mus­lim folk singers, in­clud­ing Khan’s, left the vil­lage fol­low­ing al­leged threat from the Ra­jputs and took shel­ter at nearby Balad vil­lage.

On Mon­day, some of them met Jaisalmer district col­lec­tor (DC) KC Meena, who as­sured them of help and put them up in a tem­po­rary shel­ter run by the mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil for the home­less peo­ple. The DC asked the civic body to ar­range food for them.

“We are man­ag­ing food for us through our lo­cal re­sources. The ad­min­is­tra­tion has made no ar­range­ment,” said Ta­reef Khan. “How­ever, we can­not mop up re­sources for long,” he said.

Jaisalmer mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil com­mis­sioner Jabar Singh said they didn’t have bud­get for pro­vid­ing food to the dis­placed fam­i­lies. “We gave them food on Mon­day but we can­not give them food ev­ery­day due to lack of funds,” he added.

Meena wasn’t aware about the con­di­tion of the fam­i­lies at the shel­ter. He said he will need to check if the fam­i­lies have re­turned to the vil­lage or not.

The district col­lec­tor also sent a sub-divi­sional of­fi­cer to Dan­tal to ease the ten­sion in the vil­lage so that the Mus­lims could re­turn home. “We are talk­ing to both sides and have as­sured the Mus­lims of their safety on their re­turn to Dan­tal,” the DC said.

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