A Durga Puja procession in a north-central Uttar Pradesh village triggered a clash between members of two religious communities, leading to arson that killed a toddler and injured a dozen other people, police said on Friday.
Mobs torched 37 hutments in two villages of Bahraich district on Thursday evening after stones hit at a Navratri march carrying the goddess’ idol when it passed by a mosque in Baheliya near Fakharpur.
Altercation ensued, following which thatched-roof houses in settlements of Gumma Khan Purwa and Medilalpurwa villages were set on fire. Four-year-old Soni was trapped in a hut and received severe burn injury. She succumbed to injury on way to hospital.
Superintendent of Police Salik Ram Verma said the Durga idol for immersion was being taken from Baheliya village off Fakharpur when trouble broke out. “A stone hit the idol, too, damaging it,” he said about the incident in Gumma Khan Purwa village. “The resultant violence injured a dozen people.”
Sub-divisional magistrate Amitabh Yadav and deputy superintendent of police Kesh Karan Singh reached the village with a team of constables. Police resorted to lathi charge. Shortly afterwards district magistrate Abhay Kumar, divisional commissioner Sudhir Dixit and DIG, Jitendra Pratap Singh reached the spot, and heavy police force was deployed in the area.
The local administration has stopped the idol immersion till situation returns to normal.
Fakharpur station house officer Devanand Rajak and sub inspector Pappu Yadav were suspended.
The state government has announced Rs 5 lakh to the deceased girl’s family, a senior official said. The district administration, too, announced a financial assistance of Rs 4 lakh to the family.