CURFEW WAS clamped in seven police stations areas and police lobbed 100 rounds of teargas shells and fired in air to control a mob that indulged in violence in the city following a clash between two groups belonging to different communities.
The city was gripped with tension since afternoon. Police fired in air after repeated lathi charge proved ineffective to quell the mob.
Curfew was first clamped at Chhatripura, Malharganj and Pandrinath in the afternoon. Later in the evening, the restrictions were extended to Raoji Bazaar, Central Kotwali, Sarafa and Sadar Bazaar police stations.
Both the sides indulged in arson and heavy stone pelting on the main Jawahar Marg and its adjoining lanes and by-lanes. Violence was witnessed at Loharpatti and Jinsi Haat Maidan area also. A few petrol bombs were hurled and country-made guns were reportedly used during the clash.
Inspector General of Police Rajendra Kumar said that the trouble started at around 1.30 pm when a youth identified as Neelu came to the dye (Rangrez) shop of Noor Mohammad, situated near Narsingh Bazaar crossing, and accused his son Munna Mohammad of eve teasing. There was an altercation and family members of Noor Mohammad including Munna, beat up Neelu.
Then Neelu called in his supporters and ransacked Noor Mohammad’s shop. As the news of the attack spread, supporters of both the groups gathered and threw stones at each other, Kumar added.
This was followed by heavy stone pelting on the Jawahar Marg, between Mukeripua Masjid and Narsingh Bazaar. During the clash, petrol bombs were also hurled.
Panic stricken shop owners downed their shutters and people ran helter skelter to avoid getting caught in the melee. Even after the police arrived the stone pelting continued.
Police had to lob teargas after a mild lathi-charge proved ineffective. A motorcycle was set on fire and Pakizah showroom at Satha Bazaar was damaged in stone pelting, the police said.
The tension gripped the city for over five hours as the rival groups continued to clash. A motorcycle and an auto-rickshaw were set ablaze. However, there was no report of major injuries to anyone, though a few reportedly received minor injuries in stone throwing incidents. One person was reportedly injured in a sword attack in the Loharpatti area.
Entire market along Jawahar Marg, Sarafa, Cloth Market, Sitlamata Bazaar, Bartan Bazaar, Itwaria Bazaar and entire Rajwada was closed due to the clash.
Senior police and civil officials toured the area to instill confidence among the people and tackle rumormongers. Senior officers including SP Anshuman Yadav, ADM Rameshwar Gupta and other officials walked along the narrow lanes and by-lanes adjoining the Narsingh Bazaar.
Anshuman Yadav also talked to area MLA Laxman Singh Goud and requested him to address the people. Goud addressed the people along with the SP near his office at Lodhipura and requested them to go to their homes and remain calm.
For some time it appeared that the tension had diffused. However, even as senior officers were preparing to leave the area, news came that an auto-rickshaw had been set on fire in Jinsi. Once again there was heavy stone pelting along Loharpatti and Jinsi area.
The fire brigade rushed in and extinguished the flames. Police used force and teargassed the mob of arsonists and declared curfew in the three police station areas initially. There were reports that country-made-guns were used in the Jinsi area by the mob.
Police in battle gear patrolled throughout the area and were deployed along Jawahar Marg. Additional police force (two companies of SAF) have been rushed from Bhopal. Later DIG Madhukumar Babu, IG Rajendra Kumar also visited the affected areas to take stock of the situation.
Anshuman Yadav said that the situation was under control. He appealed to the people to stay clam and not heed to rumors. According to a report from MY Hospital among those injured DSP Shakti Singh Chaudhary, Ejaz Ali (32), Ayub Mustafa (37), Abdul Malik (28) Muzaffar Ayub (16), Manoj Udasi (35) Jagdeep Khatri (28), Rakesh (20), Dilip (19), Devendra Swarup (22) and Ashok Prajapat, received treatment there. Most were released after first aid.
During all this, students of Vaishnav Bal Mandir, Rajmohalla, were trapped inside their school and were later escorted by the police to their homes.