Two shops belonging to Muslims were burnt during a shutdown observed by the Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra’s Amravati city on Saturday, The Indian Express reported.
The BJP observed the bandh in response to a protest staged by a Muslim organisation on Friday against the recent communal violence in Tripura. The protestors had allegedly thrown stones at BJP leader Pravin Pote’s home.
Incidents of stone-pelting were also reported from other places in Amravati, after which the authorities on Saturday imposed a curfew for four days and suspended internet services.
On the same day, 6,000 workers of the BJP and Hindutva groups Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad assembled at Rajkamal Chowk in Amravati reportedly on Pote’s instructions, according to The Indian Express.
“A section of this crowd turned violent, burnt two shops, damaged some other shops, burnt vehicles,” an unidentified police officer told the newspaper. “Almost all the victims are from the minority community. It appears that the violence had been planned a day in advance in retaliation for the violence on Friday by some members of the minority community.”
One of the shops burnt during the violence had been running since 1970 and belonged to a man named Shadab Khan.
The shop owner said his electronics repair business had already been hit by the coronavirus crisis. “I had to let go five workers,” he told The Indian Express. “Now that my shop is gone, I have suffered a loss of Rs 13 lakh and lost my life’s earnings. The mob also stole electronic items from my shop.”
Feroze Ahmed, another businessman, said that the “police were watching as my shop burnt”.
“I started from scratch and put in decades of efforts to take a shop on rent to run my own business two years ago” Ahmed told the newspaper. “The pandemic had hurt my business, but this mindless rioting has ended everything for me.”
Ahmed said he suffered a loss of Rs 8 lakh. “They [the mob] also burnt three vehicles of my customers parked in front of my shop” he said, according to The Indian Express. “How will I pay for all this and care of my family? I am the sole breadwinner.”
The businessman blamed Pote, the BJP leader, for his loss. “I told police to make him an accused in the case,” Ahmed said. “He was the one who organised the morcha. I want the government to pay for my losses and punish the guilty.”
Hindutva workers also allegedly attacked a dargah on Saturday, according to The Wire. On the other hand, Muslims attacked a temple, witnesses claimed. But the police said the temple was damaged during “intermittent stone-pelting”, according to The Wire.
The police have filed 26 cases in connection with the violence that erupted in Amravati on Friday and Saturday. They have also arrested 60 people, The Indian Express reported.