Tension gripped the town here after a clash between Shiv Sena activists and Muslim men supported by Sikhs, as the two sides pelted each other with stones for over 25 minutes on Friday afternoon. The clash left at least six people injured, including two cops.
The police failed to pre-empt the clash even as the situation was simmering for a couple of days. It all started on Wednesday when Sena activists allegedly used force to shut shops of a few Muslim families during a protest against disruption in the Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir.
After Friday prayers, a delegation from the Muslim community was to submit a memorandum to the administration, seeking action against the Shiv Sena activists for harassing Muslim traders.
When the prayers were going on, Sena activists reached outside the mosque and started raising anti-Pakistan and ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ slogans. They reportedly also dared the people inside the mosque to face them.
People in the mosque came out and both sides exchanged heated words and soon stone pelting ensued at Gaushala road. The volatile situation took a dramatic turn when a group of Sikhs turned up to lend support to the Muslim side. The Sikh youths were carrying sharp-edged weapons and they also hurled stones at Sena activists.
The cops made no effort to stop the Sena activists from reaching outside the mosque. It was only after the two sides exchanged stones for 25 minutes that a posse of police reached the spot and detained some people from both sides.
“The administration was aware of our programme to submit the memorandum, still only a handful of cops were deployed near the mosque. Are we not citizens of this country? Police deliberately reached late as they wanted us to suffer at the hands of these hardliners,” said head of Ubbaish Ur-Rehman, head of the mosque.
Seven people, including two cops, sustained minor injuries. The shopkeepers downed the shutters after the clash.
Senior officers from the administration and the police, including deputy commissioner Jaskiran Singh, inspector general of police (Jalandhar range) Lok Nath Angra, DIG Rajinder Singh and Kapurthala SSP Rajinder Singh, too reached the spot.
“We are identifying the people who instigated the violence, through CCTV camera footage and other sources,” he said.
The situation was still tense when this report was filed as both communities were demanding an unconditional apology from one another for hurting their religious sentiments.