A FOUR-PAGE report prepared by Petlawad police on last month’s communal tension in the town accuses RSS zila sah karyawah Akash Chouhan and his father Mukut of trying to “polarise Hindu voters” to win the upcoming Petlawad nagar panchayat elections.
“They want to cause communal violence and win the election by polarising Hindu voters. By their untiring efforts, the police foiled their attempts to cause violence,” says the report, signed by subdivisional police officer Rakesh Vyas and submitted to Jhabua SP Sanjay Tiwari.
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Blaming the Chouhans for the communal tension in Petlawad from October 12 to 14, and for other instances, the report adds that they could not register the cases “from [an] administrative point of view”, “due to their [the Chouhans’] RSS background”.
Says the confidential report, “Uprokta sabhi ghatnaon me apradh panjibadhha hona the. Lekin inki RSS prushtha bhoomi ke karan prashashanik drushtikon se aparadh panjibaddha nahin kiye ja sake [In all these incidents, criminal cases were to be filed. But due to their RSS background and administrative point of view, criminal cases could not be filed].”
The report adds that quick police action prevented riots, and that “95 per cent of public” have backed it.
SP Tiwari denied knowledge of the report against Chouhan. However, he admitted that the RSS functionary was an accused in the attack on SDOP Vyas’s vehicle on October 13.
Quoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement against cow vigilantes, the police report also accuses 28-year-old Chouhan of running an organised gang of 100-150 whose members move on motorbikes extorting “entry (money)” from drivers of vehicles carrying cattle, threatening to report the matter to the police if turned away.
Petlawad had seen communal tension on October 12 when a tazia procession was made to change its route twice on Muharram, after which nearly a dozen RSS functionaries, including Mukut Chouhan, a former district-level Sangh functionary, were either arrested or detained as a preventive measure. The RSS then called a bandh in protest against the arrests and to seek action against SDPO Vyas.
Later, Vyas and Petlawad Police Station in-charge Karnisingh Shaktawat were transferred under Sangh pressure. Vyas has been attached to the office of IG (Indore) and Shaktawat moved to Jhabua.
The police report says submissions had been made before too on activities of Chouhan leading to possible communal incidents in areas under Petlawad and Thandla police stations. “The latest incident vindicates the previous warnings.”
RSS Dhar prachar pramukh Lalit Kothari said that since Chouhan was a Sangh functionary, he was “naturally involved in activities like the cow protection campaign”. He added, “No criminal case has been filed so far against Akash. I am not aware of the police report.”
Speaking about the attack on SDPO Vyas’s vehicle, the Congress’s Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha MP Kantilal Bhuria said, “Police have become inactive, fearing action against them.”
Denying the charges against him, Chouhan accused Vyas of “an anti-RSS mindset” and accused him and other police officials of collecting Rs 5,000 each to let vehicles pass through their jurisdiction. He claimed the SDOP had prepared a “target list of 20-22 activists who he wanted to somehow fix. He insulted them deliberately, made them sit in the thana for hours and then arrested some on fabricated charges”.
According to Chouhan, police were angry with RSS activists because most of them were involved in cow protection and their campaign had virtually stopped the money they earned by allowing illegal transportation of cattle.
Incidentally, the police report says, BJP legislators Nagar Singh Chouhan (Alirajpur) and Madhav Singh Davar (Jobat) were also at the receiving end of Chouhan’s cow protection campaign, and that the Alirajpur MLA had to intervene to recover his vehicle after it was stopped two times. Nagar Singh Chouhan admitted this, but said he had not named any individual. “It’s an old case,” he added, disconnecting the phone. Davar said he would call back, but did not.
The report cites several instances to show how Akash Chouhan and his father were trying to incite tension. On May 27, it says, carcasses of cattle that had died in an accident were paraded in Petlawad town by activists led by the two. The report says the carcasses were forcibly taken away from police.
It also says Chouhan tried to vitiate communal harmony after a Milad-un-Nabi procession on December 24, 2015, and that he and his father “misbehaved” with sub-inspector Vinod Saingh Baghel, who was in-charge of Petlawad Police Station (April 9), and with the sub-divisional magistrate of Mandloi over graveyard land in July 2015. In September 2012, the report says, Chouhan made then in-charge of Petlawad PS Satish Samadhiya apologise for removing vehicles during a procession taken out on Dol Gyaras.
The report says Chouhan had sought an arms licence but police had refused to give clearance, citing his activities and instances of misbehavour with police officials.