Internet services were shut down and a curfew was imposed on Saturday in Maharashtra's Amravati city which witnessed fresh violence during a Bandh, a senior police official said. A mob hurled stones at shops during the Bandh (shut-down) allegedly organized by local BJP workers in protest against the rallies organized by Muslim organizations the day before to condemn the recent violence in Tripura, police said.
Internet services in the city will remain suspended for three days to prevent the spread of rumours that fuel violence, said city Commissioner of Police Arti Singh.
On Saturday morning, hundreds of people, many of them holding saffron flags in their hands and raising slogans, came out on streets in Rajkamal Chowk area of the eastern Maharashtra city, located around 670 km from Mumbai. Some members of the mob hurled stones at shops in Rajkamal Chowk and other places, the police official said, adding that the police lathi-charged the protesters to bring the situation under control.
Against the backdrop of 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 under sections 144(1), (2), (3) of the CrPc to avoid any untoward incidents. 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 organizations to protest against incidents in Tripura at Amravati, Nanded, Malegaon, Washim, and Yavatmal. Police have so far arrested 20 people and detained four others by registering 20 FIRs under various charges, including rioting, in connection with Friday's incidents.
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 people were leaving after submitting the memorandum, stone-pelting took place at three places between Chitra Chowk and Cotton Market under the limits of the Kotwali police station. Meanwhile, launching a veiled attack on opposition BJP, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Saturday said the violence in Amravati and other places was aimed at destabilizing the MVA government.
Speaking to reporters in Aurangabad, Raut said the state government is firm in the saddle and real faces of the perpetrators of violence will be exposed soon. "Raising the bogey of violence, they (Opposition) will meet the state governor and write letters to the Union home ministry claiming that the (law and order) situation in Maharashtra is deteriorating. This will happen in the future too. But the state government is firm in the saddle," Raut said.
Amravati district guardian minister Yashomati Thakur said some anti-social elements are trying to vitiate the atmosphere by throwing stones at shops. "The state government will take necessary action. However, some people are using this for political gains," she said and appealed to people to not believe rumours.
AIMIM MP Imtiaz Jaleel has also condemned the violence in Amravati. "I want to question those leaders in the state who came to power by taking the votes of Muslims why they didn't condemn the violence in Tripura. If this violence in Maharashtra is a 'tit for tat' by any political party then this is the example of irresponsibility," he said.
Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis said it was wrong to organise rallies in the state for an incident that "never occurred" in Tripura and appealed to people to exercise restraint. “The Tripura government and local police have clarified that no religious place of a minority community was burned down. They have issued pictures of the same as well. I appeal to both the communities to observe restraint,” the former chief minister told reporters in Mumbai. The senior BJP leader also said that political parties in the state government should not give inflammatory statements.
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