AMRAVATI: A four-day curfew has been clamped in Amravati city, which witnessed fresh violence on Saturday during a bandh organised by local BJP workers. The latter were protesting against the rallies organised by Muslim organisations on Friday to condemn the recent flare-up in Tripura. The Maharashtra Police had to deploy four companies of the State Reserve Police Force and an additional 125 police personnel to rein in the mob.
Internet services too have been suspended for three days to prevent rumour mongering, disclosed Amravati city Commissioner of Police Arti Singh.
Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil, who is monitoring the situation and holding talks with senior officials, has condemned the violence which took place during the Muslim protest rallies at Amravati, Nanded and Malegaon. He told the Free Press Journal: The situation is now under control. As far as Amravati is concerned, the police are keeping a close vigil to maintain peace and law and order.’’
“We condemn the violence. I spoke to Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis and the Amravati MP to help maintain social harmony. We are focusing on keeping the situation under control,” said Walse Patil. He further urged the people not to succumb to rumours and called upon Hindus and Muslims to exercise restraint.
On Saturday morning, hundreds of people, many of them holding saffron flags and raising slogans, poured into the Rajkamal Chowk area of Amravati. Some hurled stones at shops in the Chowk and elsewhere, the police official said, adding that they cane the protesters to bring the situation under control.
In the backdrop of the back-to-back incidents of stone-pelting on Friday and Saturday, additional police commissioner Sandip Patil issued orders imposing curfew in the city limits of Amravati. Vikram Sali, DCP Amaravati, said, "Cases have been registered on the basis of five complaints. At present, it's peaceful here. No police permission was taken for this protest march. On the basis of complaints, we will take strict action against those involved."
Except for medical emergencies, people are not allowed to come out of houses. A gathering of more than five people is not allowed, as per the order.
On Friday, stone-pelting was reported during rallies taken out by Muslim organisations to protest against incidents in Tripura at Amravati, Nanded, Malegaon, Washim and Yavatmal.
The police have thus far arrested 20 people and detained four others by registering 20 FIRs under various sections, including rioting.
In Amravati, over 8,000 people had gathered outside the district collector's office on Friday to submit a memorandum demanding that atrocities against the minority community in Tripura be stopped. When they were leaving after submitting the memorandum, stone-pelting took place at three places.
Raza Academy, a Muslim organisation, has handed over a memorandum to Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. Those affected by the violence in Tripura should be given compensation and the mosques which were damaged should be reconstructed, it had demanded.
A bandh was also observed in Muslim-dominated areas of Mumbai, including Bhendi Bazar, Mohammad Ali Road, Kurla as well as Mumbra and Bhiwandi in Thane.
War of Words
The violence at Amravati, Nanded and Malegaon has ignited a war of words between the ruling and opposition parties. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut alleged that this was a big conspiracy by the opposition to destabilize Maharashtra and create law and order problems.
“There was no reason for calling a bandh on Friday. The ones who called for the bandh must be behind the violence as well. The BJP politics revolves around creating a religious divide or caste tension. This was the case in Amravati, too. The organisation (Raza Academy) which had called for the protest does not have either the numbers or capacity to engage in violence. Raza Academy is said to be a sister concern of the BJP,’’ he noted.
‘’They used central agencies like the ED, the CBI, the income tax and the NCB initially, but could not succeed. So, now they are orchestrating riots to destabilise Maharashtra; but they will fail here too. The Raza Academy is not strong enough to orchestrate such violence and manpower has been provided to them for it,” he said.
However, leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis said the rallies seemed to be part of a scripted conspiracy to foment communal clashes, adding that it does not augur well for the state. “It is my ardent appeal to people from both the communities to maintain peace. Nobody should indulge in any violence,” he said.
Fadnavis argued that what is shocking is that the protests were triggered by Tripura incidents, which did not take place. ‘’The Tripura government and the police have clarified that no Masjid was torched. Yet, some segment seems to have spread the rumour using social media to generate unrest,” he claimed.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)