Tension prevailed in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur city on Wednesday during a bandh called by Hindutva groups to protest against social media posts that they claimed glorified Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and 18th-century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan, NDTV reported.
Violence erupted after a group of protestors allegedly ransacked shops and vehicles in the city’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Chowk.
Internet services have been suspended in the city till Thursday, according to PTI. The local administration also issued prohibitory orders banning the assembly of five or more persons till June 19.
Superintendent of Police Mahendra Pandit said that five persons were detained on Tuesday after two cases were registered for the allegedly objectionable social media posts, ANI reported.
“A mob had gathered outside Laxmipuri police station demanding legal action against them [the accused persons],” Pandit said. “When it was returning, some miscreants pelted stones and an offence registered against that too.”
The police official said that after the protests on Wednesday concluded, stones were thrown again. The police used batons to control the mob.
Officials are now assessing the damage due to the violence and are checking whether anyone has been injured.
Social media users posted videos on Twitter claiming that a mob of Hindutva supporters attacked a Muslim fruit vendor. Some users also posted videos claiming that stones were thrown at a mosque and communal speeches were made. But the police have not confirmed these incidents yet.
Kolhapur Collector Rahul Rekhawar said the situation in the city is under control and additional police force has been brought in. He urged citizens to cooperate with the authorities, PTI reported.
Deepak Kesarkar, the guardian minister for Kolhapur, said that action has been taken against persons who used Tipu Sultan’s image with an objectionable audio message.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde appealed for calm in the state. “Anyone taking law into their hands will not be spared,” he said, PTI reported. “I am in touch with the local administration, and necessary directives have been given.”
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of encouraging instances of communal violence.
“Communal clashes in Ahmednagar and Kolhapur have taken place over some messages sent over phone,” he wrote on Twitter. “What is the meaning of hitting the streets over such messages and giving them a religious colour?”