Communal tension flares up in 7 states

Updated on Apr 12, 2022 01:09 AM IST

Two people were killed, several injured, and homes and vehicles set ablaze in incidents of communal violence in at least six states across the country on Ram Navmi

A view of the site after communal clash during Ram Navmi procession in Himmatnagar on Sunday (ANI)
A view of the site after communal clash during Ram Navmi procession in Himmatnagar on Sunday (ANI)
By, Ahmedabad/ranchi/bhopal/kolkata

Two people were killed, several injured, and homes and vehicles set ablaze in incidents of communal violence in at least six states across the country on Ram Navmi.

While one person was killed in clashes in Jharkhand’s Lohardaga district, another lost his life in Gujarat’s Khambat town. In a majority of these cases, the patterns were similar, with alleged stone-pelting on Ram Navmi processions, with Muslims alleging provocative sloganeering in residential areas where the community lives that led to altercations.

Violence broke out in the Himmatnagar and Khambat towns on Sunday, each around Ram Navmi processions which were allegedly attacked, with shops and homes set ablaze. A 65-year-old man lost his life in Khambat.

The following day, police officials said curfew has been imposed, 600 people have been booked for the violence, with 39 arrests in total across both Gujarat towns. “About 1,000 policemen are presently deployed at Himmatnagar. We have rounded up 30 people in connection with the incident. Based on CCTV footage and cellphone tracking, we are trying to get hold of the culprits,” said Abhay Chudasama, Gandhinagar range IG, who has been camping at Himmatnagar since Sunday evening to bring the situation under control.

He said the police is also investigating if the violence was pre-planned.

In Khambat, nine people, including Muslim religious leaders, have been arrested with Mitesh Patel, BJP MP from Anand saying that those behind the violence will not go unpunished. “In the case of Himmatnagar, when the procession was passing through an area dominated by members of a different community, initially there was a verbal altercation that began with sloganeering. People from both sides were in big numbers and soon there was stone pelting from one end. The way the entire incident unfolded, one cannot rule out that it was pre-planned,” said a police official aware of the matter.

In Jharkhand, one person was killed and 12 others injured in Lohardaga district’s Hirhi village after a Ram Navmi procession was attacked with stones, police officials said. Internet services have been suspended in Lohardaga town and prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC imposed in the entire district, sub-divisional officer Arbind Kumar Lal said. Ten motorbikes and a pick-up van were set on fire, the officials said.

In Madhya Pradesh, as many as 84 people, including more than a dozen minors, have been arrested for rioting and arson a day after clashes in Khargone, following alleged stone-pelting on a Ram Navmi procession. On Sunday, at least 27 people including six police personnel, and the superintendent of police Siddharth Chaudhary were injured in clashes that erupted in Khargone.

“Chaudhary received gunshot injuries in his leg. A local resident Shivam Shukla, 16, was injured seriously and has been referred to Indore. As many as 15 houses, 17 vehicles and five shops were burned down in four areas including Sanjay Nagar, Anand Nagar, Khaskhaswadi and Talab said Rakesh Gupta, inspector general of police, Indore division.

Deputy inspector general of police Tilak Singh said, “The violence broke out when the procession was passing from Talab Chowk at 5.30 PM on Sunday. A group of people pelted stones on the rally and tension erupted. In three hours, more than a dozen houses, vehicles and shops have been burned down by unidentified people. The SP Chaudhary was taking lead in the Sanjay Nagar area to control the mob when he was shot in the leg by a country-made gun. He was rushed to hospital while other police personnel sustained injuries in the stone-pelting.”

On Monday, Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that a state tribunal would be formed to recover the damage. After the chief minister’s order, a joint team of police, district administration and municipal corporations razed four houses in Mohan Talkies area on Monday afternoon and identified 50 others, which were allegedly constructed illegally, in the most affected areas-Khaskhaswadi, Anand Nagar, Motipura, Sanjay Nagar and Talab Chowk.

A Supreme Court advocate, Ehtesham Hashmi objected to the demolition drive of the state government. “Under the Article 21 of the Constitution of India, accused rights include the right to a fair trial, get bail, hire a criminal lawyer, free legal aid in India and more. But now the MP government is violating this right by demolishing houses. Even if the houses were constructed illegally, there is a procedure in the rules of every corporation of giving prior notice before demolition but no such due procedure is being followed by the state government.”

Ram Navmi celebrations in West Bengal were similarly marred by violence in two districts when stones were pelted at a procession in the Shibpur area of Howrah and the police were attacked by members of the Ram Navami procession in Bankura town, officials said. More than 30 people were arrested in the two incidents. Around 20 people, including six policemen, were injured.

In Howrah, stones were pelted at a Ram Navmi procession moving along the Grand Trunk Road in Shibpur while it was being escorted by police officials. Three policemen and around 20 people taking part in the celebrations were injured in the stone pelting, said a police officer who did not want to be named. “We resorted to baton charge and dispersed the troublemakers. The injured people were taken a local hospital for treatment. The rapid action force was deployed and part of the road was blocked to bring the situation under control,” the officer added.

In Bankura town, stones were pelted at the police from a Ram Navmi procession in the Machantala area on Sunday evening when the authorities set up barricades to stop the procession from passing through a specific neighbourhood. “Three policemen were injured. We resorted to baton charge and lobbed teargas shells to disperse the crowd. Seven people were arrested from the spot,” said a district police officer said.

Four persons have been arrested in Karnataka’s Kalaburagi district, about 632 kms from Bengaluru, after a clash between students during Ram Navmi celebrations at the Kalaburgi Central University. “Yesterday there was a clash between two groups of students of which some were injured. After we get the MLC (medico legal case), we have filed an FIR,” Isha Pant, Superintendent of Police, Kalaburagi district said on Monday.

Pant said that there were four boys named Rahul, Rahul Arya, Sadiq and another person.

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