From Bengal to Maharashtra, violence breaks out during Ram Navami processions, over 20 injured
Most of the incidents broke out after objectionable slogans were shouted or loud music was played when the processions passed through Muslim-dominated areas.
More than 20 persons were injured as communal violence broke out across several cities during Ram Navami processions on Wednesday night and Thursday, reported the Hindustan Times.
At least 54 persons have been arrested, according to the police as clashes were reported in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Gujarat, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.
The violence is a repeat of incidents that were reported across several states last year on Ram Navami, the last day of the Hindu festival of Navratri. Following the incidents last year, authorities had demolished shops and buildings owned by the accused persons, most of whom were Muslims.
On similar lines, most of the clashes this year erupted after Ram Navami processions, playing songs on loudspeakers passed through Muslim-dominated areas.
In West Bengal’s Howrah district, several vehicles were set ablaze, stones were thrown and shops were vandalised as clash broke out between Hindus and Muslims. Videos on social media showed men throwing stones and vandalising shops as the police tried to bring the situation under control. Security personnel had to fire tear gas shells to disperse the mob, reported NDTV.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asserted that those behind the violence will not be spared.
“I do not support riot mongers and consider them the enemy of the country,” she said. “The BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] has always targeted Howrah. The other targets for them are Park Circus and Islampur. Everybody must be alert in their localities.”
BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari denied the allegations and blamed the Trinamool Congress government for the violence. In North 24 Parganas’ Bhatpara city, visuals showed Hindus brandishing swords and waving saffron flags outside a mosque.
In Gujarat’s Vadodara, stones were thrown at mosques and homes of Muslims, and vehicles were vandalised during two separate Ram Navami processions, reported India Today. Visuals showed men throwing stones at each other even as the police tried to control the mob.
No arrests have been made so far.
“The incident took place when the procession reached near a mosque and people started gathering at the spot,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Yashpal Jaganiya said about one of the incidents. “This is not a communal riot. We dispersed the crowd and the procession also went ahead on its route. All such processions in the city were already given police protection.”
Maharashtra’s Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, formerly known as Aurangabad, also saw similar clashes after two groups brawled over allegedly objectionable slogans in a Ram Navami rally, reported The Times of India.
Witnesses said that a group of bike-borne youths shouted the slogans were who were then attacked by the other group. The altercation sparked violence, leaving 12 persons, including 10 policemen, injured, according to the Hindustan Times.
“We dispatched a local police team,” Aurangabad Police Commissioner Nikhil Gupta said. “After some time, one group left the place and the police soon came to the site. After an hour, a mob gathered there, bringing stones and petrol-filled bottles along, which they threw at the police personnel.”
MP Imtiaz Jaleel also sustained minor injuries as he reportedly attempted to stop the mob from turning violent.
In Mumbai’s Malad region, Muslims and Hindus clashed during a Ram Navami procession after some of them objected to loud music being played on speakers, reported PTI, citing an official.
Deputy Commission of Police Ajay Bansal said that one person was injured in the violence and that the situation is under control, reported ANI.
The police have detained 20 persons and filed a first information report against 300 unidentified rioters.
In another video shot in Wadi town of Nagpur district, a man can be seen waving a saffron flag inside the premises of Dargah Haji Abdulreham Malang Shah in the presence of police. A group of men who cannot be seen in the video, shout slogans of “Jai Shri Ram”.
Hyderabad saw suspended BJP leader T Raja Singh making a hateful speech during a Ram Navami procession, reported The Quint.
Singh stopped the procession in front of a mosque and addresses the gathering, saying that when a “Hindu Rashtra” is formed, no more cows will die and the “jihadis” will be removed from India.
“Our elders worked hard and made the Ram temple a reality,” he said. “It will soon be inaugurated. Our focus now has to be on Kashi and Mathura temples, for which we need to fight. Hindus should not be afraid of anyone. One Hindu can fight 10,000 people. There is nothing to fear, and we have to build a Hindu Rashtra.”
Those attending the rally were also seen in videos waving portraits of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
In Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura, videos on social showed a group of men waving saffron flags from the roof of shops near the Jama Masjid during a Ram Navami procession, reported The Indian Express.
In another video, a man can be seen atop the boundary of the mosque as he waives the saffron flag. The police said they are in the process of identifying the men.
They added that the situation has been brought under control after talking to Muslim and Hindu representatives.
In Delhi, the situation remained tense in the Jahangirpuri area after a Ram Navami procession was taken out. The area had seen communal violence during the Hanuman Jayanti celebrations on April 16.
The police said they had denied permission to hold the Ram Navami procession as well as group prayers. However, the police allowed the 5-km long procession to be held amid tight security that was limited to a park in the area.