The district administration clamped indefinite curfew in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone city after overnight clashes between two communities during a religious procession injured more than 20 people including police personnel, officials said on Friday.
Police lobbed tear gas shells and canned rioters after several houses and vehicles were set ablaze during the violence on Thursday night during the ‘vijay juloos’ (victory procession) which followed the Dussehra celebrations.
The Hindu festivities coincided with the Muharram procession of the Muslims this year.
Sources said differences over the same route taken by members of the two communities triggered the clashes, shattering a fragile peace in the midst of a surcharged atmosphere in many parts of the country.
The Khargone additional superintend of police (ASP) and three other security personnel were injured when rioters pelted stones during the clashes which spread to several localities of the city.
“Extra police forces have been deployed to prevent any untoward incident in the future,” said Dilip Arya, the Khargone deputy inspector general of police.
District collector Neeraj Dube said “the situation is under control now”.
Police said that the clashes started when some people allegedly pelted stones on the ‘victory procession’ near a popular cinema hall in the heart of the city. This turned into full-fledged clashes as the other group retaliated.
The violence spread to several other localities -- Sanjay Nagar, Tevedi, Goshala Marg, Talaab Chauk – where houses and vehicles were set ablaze. A Durga puja pandal was also set on fire.
Police said that several families of a community fled their homes as the arson spread.
Violence related to Moharram and Dusshera were also reported from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Kannauj administration clamped prohibitory orders and deployed paramilitary forces after overnight clashes between two communities left two people dead in the Uttar Pradesh city, police said on Friday.
Kannauj, around 120 km from capital Lucknow, is the constituency of Lok Sabha member Dimple Yadav, the wife of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.
Police sources said that prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC have been issued to maintain law and order after groups of people clashed on the streets and set shops and vehicles on fire on Thursday night and Friday morning.
Besides, the government also rushed one company each of the Border Security Force (BSF) and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) from Lucknow to help local police in maintaining law and order in the violence-hit city.
In adjoining Fatehpur district, 20 people were injured on Thursday after people participating in Moharram and Dusshera processions clashed at Mandwa village.
Many vehicles were also set ablaze in the violence that continued throughout the night, police said.
Earlier on Wednesday night, four CRPF and RAF personnel and more than two dozen civilians were injured in stone pelting and police caning in Bihar’s Kaimur district.
(With inputs from Lucknow and Patna bureaus)