Curfew was imposed in Rajouri town and the army staged a flag march on Tuesday afternoon after protesters clashed with police demanding the arrest of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal activists, who had burnt an Islamic State (IS) flag with a verse from the Quran on it. The district authorities had earlier imposed Section 144 of the CrPC, restricting the gathering of people.
“The curfew was imposed in view of the prevailing law and order situation to restrict the movement of people,” said Rajouri deputy commissioner Deepit Uppal.The curfew was imposed after Muslims demanding the arrest of people, who had burned the flag, clashed with police for three hours on Tuesday.
Members of the Muslim community had given a bandh call in Rajouri town, 150 km from Jammu, on Tuesday to protest Monday’s incident. Representatives of the Hindu organisations had apologised for burning the flag with the verse, but members of the Muslim community insisted that those responsible for the incident be arrested.
Apprehending tension in the communally volatile district, a meeting of senior members of both communities was held. Members of the Hindu community said the activists who burned the IS flag after downloading it from a website on Monday didn’t know it had a holy verse printed on it and had apologised for doing so. Senior members of the Muslim community accepted the apology, saying that they had no objection to the burning of IS flags but the incident had hurt sentiments of the community as the verse was printed on the flag.
Protesters of the Muslim community, however, didn’t accept the agreement arrived at by the seniors and gave a call for the bandh. They said that they were not satisfied with a verbal apology but demanded the arrest of the activists behind the incident.
The town had witnessed communal clashes in 2012 after an alleged hate speech by VHP leader Parveen Togadia in the town.