Two armed men first shot at two friends and then stabbed one of them to death on a busy street in Khandwa district on Thursday, rekindling communal tensions that appeared to have died down after a burst of religious violence a fortnight ago.
Since both men belong to the minority community, the police have been deployed to prevent a communal flare-up in the town where the authorities had lifted Section 144, which prohibits assembly of more than four people, only today.
Khandwa additional superintendent of police Gopal Khandel said two bike-born masked men first shot at Javed, a resident of Gulshan Nagar, and his friend Saleem, who hails from Bikangaon, with a country-made pistol. The assailants then stabbed Javed who died on the spot. Saleem has been taken to a hospital where his condition is stated to be serious.
"Section 144 has been again been imposed in the city. We are investigating the murder and police are maintaining a vigil to prevent any untoward incident," Khandel told HT. The ASP said that Independence Day programmes in the town have been not been cancelled.
On July 30, during a clash sparked off by an inflammatory Facebook post that showed objectionable sketches next to the photo of a minority community's shrine, an insurance employee had been stabbed to death at Hatampura part of the town, leading the authorities to impose curfew for eight days.
Six people, including a policeman, had been injured in a stone pelting incident. At least 39 people were arrested on charges of rioting.
The objectionable Facebook sketch had been posted on the purported profile of BJP leader and Khandwa municipality president Amar Yadav, who had told the police that a fake profile had been created on the social media platform in his name.
However, on Wednesday, the police said they have arrested Mohammad Zakir, a resident of Kallanganj, who had hatched a conspiracy to disturb communal harmony in the town.
Khandwa superintendent of police Manoj Sharma had said that Zakir and three of his accomplices, who are absconding, are suspected to be behind the controversial Facebook post and the murder of the insurance employee.