Chhattisgarh Violence: Factors That Turned Protest Into Frenzied Mob

Chhattisgarh Violence: Factors That Turned Protest Into Frenzied Mob

Initial reports indicated that the crowd turned violent after a confrontation with police forces, setting government property, including the SP-Collectorate building and several vehicles, ablaze. However, forensic evidence, including petrol bombs found at the scene, suggests a well-planned, premeditated attack

Avdhesh MallickUpdated: Tuesday, June 11, 2024, 11:16 PM IST
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Raipur/Baloda Bazar (Chhattisgarh): Protestors of Satnami community, set the Collector-SP office in Baloda Bazar on fire on Monday, June 10 resulting in the destruction of two fire trucks, 20 cars, and 75 bikes.

Initial reports indicated that the crowd turned violent after a confrontation with police forces, setting government property, including the SP-Collectorate building and several vehicles, ablaze. However, forensic evidence, including petrol bombs found at the scene, suggests a well-planned, premeditated attack.

The BJP has alleged a political conspiracy and involvement of Congress leaders, naming Bhilai Congress MLA Devendra Yadav, MLA Kavita Pran Lahre, and former Congress MP Rudra Guru as participants in the protest that escalated into violence. BJP leaders have called for an investigation into the roles of these Congress figures, suggesting the violent protest was part of a larger conspiracy.

Common citizens and opposition parties see the incident as a failure of intelligence and administration.

AAP State Secretary Advocate Priyanka Shukla described the arson as a government failure and demanded a CBI investigation, highlighting that despite usual police responsiveness, a large crowd managed to gather and commit arson at the Collector's office.

The fire brigade struggled for six hours to control the blaze. Forensic teams collected unused petrol bombs and bottles filled with petrol and other liquids, indicating that the attackers planned the incident well in advance. Despite circulating provocative posts on social media for a long time, the intelligence department remained unaware of the impending violence.

Home Minister Vijay Sharma, who visited the site after the incident, claimed that a meeting with community members on June 6 led to an agreement to address their demands, and the community leaders assured there would be no further protests.

However, police sources indicated that the Bhim Regiment, one of the organizers, continuously incited youths to gather in Baloda Bazar on June 10.

Bhim Regiment leader Dinesh Chaturvedi used social media to encourage community members to join the protest, making controversial comments against the BJP government.

Notably, the unrest began with a Satnami community protest against the vandalism of religious symbols in a cave in Baloda Bazar district. Despite promises to protest peacefully at the Dussehra ground, the protest turned violent. Protesters broke through barricades, set fires at the tehsil, collectorate, and SP offices, and armed with petrol bombs, caused widespread damage.

Approximately 130 vehicles were damaged or burned. People who came for work at the collectorate and SP offices, like Sushildas Manikpuri, found their vehicles among the debris. Important government documents, particularly in the excise department and the RTE section of the SP office, were destroyed in the fire.

The violent rampage lasted for about 90 minutes until additional forces arrived and dispersed the crowd. Police officers at the scene reported that the protesters pushed through barricades and threw petrol bombs, injuring several policemen.

The protest was led by organizers identified as Kishor Navrange of Bhim Krantiveer, Dipak Gritlahare and Mohan Banjare of the Progressive Satnami Community, Sushil Banjare of the youth wing, Jitendra Navrange of the Satnam Seva Committee, and Dinesh Chaturvedi of the Bhim Regiment. Over 50 people were injured, including protesters and bystanders, and about 50 protesters were detained, though official confirmation was pending.

Chief Minister Vishnudev Sai chaired a high-level meeting to address the situation, and directed the officers of strict action against the perpetrators. He also appealed for restoration of peace. 

Chhattisgarh Police Register 7 FIRs

In the aftermath of the violence during a protest by the Satnami community in Baloda Bazar, Chhattisgarh, police have registered seven separate FIRs as of Tuesday. So far, 73 individuals have been arrested, and 200 others have been detained. To locate the rioters, 12 police teams have been formed and dispatched to various districts, utilizing CCTV footage to aid their efforts.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Vishnudev Sai has expressed significant displeasure over the entire incident. During a meeting on Tuesday, the CM questioned the officials on how such a major incident occurred and they remained unaware and have no backup plans. It has been indicated senior officers like SP and Collector may have to face conscequences. However, in the case Congress party has also formed a seven-member committee to investigate the incident.

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