Hubballi: The stone-pelting incident at Hubballi that the police blamed on Muslims who gathered for the Friday prayers in defiance of the lockdown was actually triggered by the police themselves, locals have claimed.

Overzealous policemen entered the mosque by wearing shoes and assaulted the staff, sparking off tension in the predominantly Muslim area of Aralikatti Oni, off Mantoor Road, according to several residents.   

Over a dozen people, including some women, have been arrested over the incident that the media quickly blamed on lockdown-defying Muslims.

Speaking to Vartha Bharati, several residents said the incident was incorrectly portrayed as a result of the police stopping Muslims from offering Jumu’ah prayers at Masjid-e-Hazrat Bilal.

Currently only Muazzin (One who gives call to prayers and stays inside or nearby the mosque) and Imam (One who leads the prayers at mosque) are allowed to offer prayers at mosque and congregational prayers are suspended due to country-wide lockdown due to Coronavirus spread.

Aslam, the muazzin of the mosque, recounted how it all started: “I was alone in the masjid and giving azaan (the call to prayer, as giving Azaan is allowed and only congregational prayers are banned). Some policemen just barged into the mosque wearing shoes and started beating me up”.

The police then took Aslam to the Town Police Station, along with the mosque’s chairman (mutavalli) Dawal Nadaf and a local resident named Basha, who were both standing outside the mosque.

Shaista, an eyewitness, confirmed that the police beat up Aslam, Nadaf and Basha before her very own eyes and took them all to the police station.

“I and my sister pleaded the police to spare them. But the police were so brazen that they dragged my sister by her hair and took her away,” Shaista said.

Local Congress leader Altaf Halwoor, who said he also witnessed the incident, said the police later warned the three men and dropped them back at about 150 metres from the masjid. By then, an angry mob, including several women, had gathered there. A woman then started abusing the police. A police constable retaliated by brandishing his lathi, Halwoor said.

“Women and some young men started to pelt stones at the police as a retaliation for their atrocities” Halwoor said, adding that many local residents, including women, and police personnel sustained injuries.

Scared of police department and their atrocities, many residents have locked their houses and moved elsewhere.

Police, have, however, denied the allegation that they beat up anyone at the mosque.

Hubballi Town police inspector M S Patil claimed that when the muazzin was giving the azaan, people started gathering there, violating the lockdown.

“When our officers asked them not to gather there and offer prayers at home, they abused them and started throwing stones,” Patil told Vartha Bharati.

The inspector said that a total of 13 people have been arrested so far over the incident under IPC sections 324, 353, 504, and 332.

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Raipur: The Chhattisgarh government on Tuesday decided to procure cow dung at Rs 2 per kilogram from cattle rearers as part of its 'Gaudhan Nyay Yojana' which will be launched on July 20, coinciding with local Hareli festival, an official said.

The decision was taken in a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel here on Tuesday, a government spokesperson said.

The scheme is meant for large scale production of vermicompost in gauthans (dedicated land in villages where cattle are housed) set up under the ambitious 'Narva, Garua, Ghurua aur Bari' scheme of the state government, he said.

"Earlier, a cabinet sub-committee had recommended buying cow dung at Rs 1.50 per kg but the cabinet has fixed the procurement rate at Rs 2 per kg, including transport cost," he said.

The state government has sanctioned construction of nearly 5300 gauthans so far, out of which 2,408 in rural areas and 377 in urban areas have been set up, he said.

In these gauthans, cow and buffalo dung will be procured from cattle owners through gauthan committees and will be utilized for making vermicompost and other products, he added.

The scheme will be launched on Hareli festival, which is celebrated to mark the start of agricultural activities.

The cabinet also approved selling of vermicompost produced under the scheme through cooperative societies to farmers at the rate of Rs 8 per kg, he said.

The cabinet also approved a plan to distribute 5 kg rice per person each month from July to November on ration cards (except for APL category) issued under the Chhattisgarh Food Security Act, in the same way as it is being provided on ration cards under National Food Security Act, he said.

"Likewise, one kg of a gram will be given per month during the same period to ration card holders (except for APL category)under Chhattisgarh Food Security Act," he said.

Besides, the cabinet approved to merge the remaining batch of teachers working under panchayat and urban body departments, who have completed a service period of two years or more, with the school education department from November 1.

The move will benefit 16,278 teachers, he added.

The cabinet also decided to constitute the Indravati Basin Development Authority for development of Indravati river valley in south Chhattisgarh, he said.

The decision to discontinue the Chhattisgarh State Law Commission was also taken in the meeting, he said.