Four persons were killed and over two dozen including a policeman were injured in violence in Indore as saffron activists unleashed a reign of terror across the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh during the VHP-sponsored Bharat bandh on Thursday.
Tension prevailed in several communally sensitive areas of Bhopal too as Bajrang Dal men forced closure of shops, damaged vehicles and beat up commuters.
Jabalpur, Jhabua, Dhar, Dewas, Hoshangabad, Satna and several other towns also witnessed vandalism. Jeweller Hiralal in Satna set himself afire as VHP workers forced him to close his shop. He sustained 90 per cent burns. In Indore, curfew was imposed in four areas following violence.
RK Choudhry, Indore SP, said three persons were killed and several others injured in clashes between two communities. An injured person succumbed to his injuries later.
The collector and the SP confirmed the four deaths but refused to disclose the identities of the deceased, saying it would increase tension. They said two of the deceased died of bullet injuries while two others were killed by miscreants.
The Congress and the Left parties said the violence was a well-planned BJP conspiracy to whip up communal passions ahead of the assembly elections and sought dismissal of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan Government.
“The Shivraj government has completely surrendered before the saffron terrorists. There is enough proof of the BJP’s involvement in today’s violence and therefore, the Governor should recommend President’s Rule in Madhya Pradesh,” said Leader of the Opposition Jamuna Devi.
In other states
Bandh remained largely peaceful in other parts of the country. It was naturally successful in BJP-ruled states or in those where the party is sharing power.
Surprisingly in Gujarat, normal life was almost uninterrupted as the ruling BJP had dissociated itself from the VHP-sponsored protest action.
This was done to prevent communal tension from arising on the eve of the Rath Yatra beginning on Friday. But political observers saw it as Narendra Modi’s subtle message to the VHP — on how limited its influence is without the BJP’s backing.
(With inputs from state bureaux)