Markets and schools remained shut and traffic stayed off the roads in Ranchi on Tuesday as prohibitory orders were clamped back on the city after embers of communal violence smouldering since Friday flared up again on Monday midnight.
A gang of people from one of the two warring communities came out in a show of strength around Monday night, fired gunshots in the air, razed a house, set afire an autorickshaw and shouted threatening slogans.
The group, brandishing sharp weapons, rallied to Manitola in Doranda and flung bricks and stones at the rival group, which returned the stones with the same ferocity. Ranchi police had to lathi-charge to break them up.
“Since the incident, the area has been cordoned by the Rapid Action Forces and the state police, restricting movement,” said Jharkhand Director General of Police DK Pandey.
Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Hazaribagh are the communally sensitive areas of state. These towns have been the epicentre of communal clashes in the past, the worst being the three-day-long Jamshedpur riots of 1979 during the Ramnavami celebrations that killed around 120 people. The thin line of communal harmony is often challenged during the festivals.
The emergence of saffron brigades in the state and large scale influx of Muslims from neighbouring states and Bangladesh have worsened the situation in the state, said a professor of political science from Ranchi, adding that though police force has grown manifold it didn’t patrol sensitive areas.
The Monday night’s show of strength was in retaliation to the clashes that erupted on Friday after a piece of meat was found near a temple in Doranda’s Hinoo locality.
Ranchi senior superintendent of police Prabhat Kumar said, “We have arrested four people since Monday midnight. There has been no report of any bullet injuries or anybody being hurt in the midnight clashes”.
Kumar said names had been withheld to maintain peace in the city.
The district administration said more than 50 people had been detained till Tuesday evening for instigating violence in the area.
Chief minister Raghubar Das called a meeting with the state police after the Monday clashes.
“There are forces that want to rupture the secular fabric of the state and they will not be spared. The police will not spare the culprits,” said Das.
The police have appealed to public representatives, including local legislators across Jharkhand, to meet community leaders and appeal for peace.
“Police stations across Ranchi and Jharkhand have been asked to call peace meetings,” said the DGP.
“No incidents have been reported since Tuesday morning. The situation is now under control,” said city Superintendent of Police Jaya Roy.
Patrol and riot vans had been positioned at different residential and market areas of Ranchi, she said.