Ahmedabad: Police loot tear gas grenades to disperse a crowd after new violence broke out in Gujarat’s Himmatnagar on Monday night when two groups threw stones at each other.
“We arrested 10 people for the violence on Monday night. When we reached the scene, the criminals also threw stones at the police,” said police superintendent Vishal Vaghela.
The violence was triggered hours after Rapid Action Force and police carried out a flag march in Himmatnagar after violence on Sunday during a Ram Navami march.
Several people, including policemen, were injured by stone felling, prompting authorities to ban meetings of more than four people.
“About 1,000 policemen are currently being deployed at Himmatnagar. We have about 30 people involved in the incident. Based on CCTV recordings and tracking of mobile phones, we are trying to get the culprits,” said Inspector General Abhay Chudasama, who has been camping in Himmatnagar since Sunday. He added that they were also investigating if the violence had been planned in advance.
A case has also been filed against 600 people for their role in Sunday’s violence. Police are also watching social media to prevent the spread of hatred through fake videos.
About 170 kilometers away, thousands of people on Monday took part in the final rites of a 65-year-old person who succumbed to his injuries on Sunday night after he was hit by a stone during a Ram Navami march in Khambhat on Sunday.
Nine people, including some religious leaders, have been arrested in connection with the violence in Khambhat. In total, 39 people have been arrested for their alleged role in violence in Himmatnagar and Khambhat.
Mitesh Patel, the local MP for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who visited Khambhat on Monday, said people behind the violence would not go unpunished when seeking peace.
In both places, shops and cars caught fire on Sunday when groups collided and threw stones at each other. The police resorted to lathi charge and tear gas spraying to disperse the crowd.
“In the case of Himmatnagar, when the march went through an area dominated by members of another community, there was initially a verbal battle that began with sloganing. People from both sides were at large “Numbers and soon it was stoned from one end. The way the whole incident played itself out can not be ruled out that it was planned in advance,” said a police officer.
BJP legislator Deepsinh Rathod said the Himmatnagar incident was planned in advance.
In a tweet, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul accused Muslim leader Asaduddin Owaisi Hindutva mobs of provoking and participating in violence, including in Khambhat and Himmatnagar with the blessing of police. Owaisi claimed that Ram Navami trials were used to incite hate speech against Muslims throughout the country.