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Azad seeks CBI inquiry into Balodabazar arson; submits memorandum to Chhattisgarh governor

Azad submitted a memorandum in this regard to Chhattisgarh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan at the Raj Bhavan on Thursday.
Last Updated : 04 July 2024, 14:27 IST

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Raipur: Azad Samaj Party (Kanshi Ram) MP Chandrashekhar Azad on Thursday claimed that people of the Satnami community were being selectively targeted in connection with the incident of arson in Chhattisgarh's Balodabazar city last month and demanded a CBI inquiry into the violence.

Azad submitted a memorandum in this regard to Chhattisgarh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan at the Raj Bhavan here on Thursday.

On June 10, a mob set on fire a government building, housing offices of district Collector and Superintendent of Police (SP), and more than 150 vehicles, including two-wheelers and four-wheelers, in Balodabazar city, the headquarter of Balodabazar-Bhatapara district, during a protest called by the Satnami community against the alleged vandalisation of a religious structure in May this year.

Unidentified persons vandalised 'jaitkham' or 'victory pillar', a sacred symbol worshipped by the Satnami community, near the holy Amar Gufa at Giroudpuri Dham in the Balodabazar-Bhatapara district on the intervening night of May 15 and 16. Police subsequently arrested three persons in connection with the incident.

To protest against the incident, the community called for a demonstration at Dussehra Maidan Balodabazar on June 10, and also a 'gherao' at the collector's office. As the protest led to arson and stone-pelting, the district administration had imposed section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, prohibiting assembly of four or more persons in Balodabazar city.

The influential Satnami community, founded by medieval-era social reformer Baba Guru Ghasidas, represents the largest Scheduled Castes group in Chhattisgarh.

According to police, 151 people, including some belonging to an outfit named Bhim Army, have been arrested so far in connection with the arson.

Azad reached Raipur this morning and submitted the memorandum to the Governor at the Raj Bhavan, urging him to take cognisance of the incident and get it probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

He also claimed that innocent people were implicated and arrested in the case, and demanded their unconditional release.

Talking to reporters outside the Raj Bhavan, Azad termed the incident of arson in Balodabazar as condemnable and demanded stern action into it but not against the innocent people.

"A judicial probe has already been ordered (into the incident) and the panel has sought time of three months for its investigation. But action is being taken against the people of Satnami community selectively as they are being arrested, tortured and harassed," he claimed.

Baba Guru Ghasidas has given the message of 'mankhe mankhe ek saman' (all humans are equal) and non-violence. It cannot be tolerated that the government, administration and police are engaged in labelling the Satnami community as violent, he said.

"If in the name of investigation, members of Bhim Army, Satnami Community and other organisations are harassed, then we will rake up the issue in Delhi and gherao the Home Minister," he said.

"I had requested the governor to seek his protection to weaker sections of society," he said, demanding that the arson incident should be probed by CBI under the supervision of sitting judges of the Supreme Court.

Following the incident of arson, the state government had transferred Balodabazar-Bhatapara Collector KL Chauhan and Superintendent of Police Sadanand Kumar and then suspended the duo for allegedly not taking appropriate action following the damage of 'jaitkham' of Satnami community in the district.

State Food and Public Distribution Department Minister Dayaldas Baghel and Revenue Minister Tank Ram Verma had earlier accused Congress leaders of instigating the crowd during the protest on June 10.

Refuting their charges, the Congress claimed that the ministers levelled baseless allegations against leaders of the grand old party to cover up the failure and incompetence of the government.

The Congress had also claimed that for the June 10 protest in Balodabazar, the leaders of the ruling BJP had made arrangements for protestors.

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Published 04 July 2024, 14:27 IST

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