A curfew was imposed in Lohardaga town of Jharkhand after some miscreants pelted stones at a group holding a rally in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act on Thursday, The Times of India reported. The miscreants also set fire to houses and shops, the police said.
The rally was organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Several people were injured in the violence.
Lohardaga Deputy Commissioner of Police Akanksha Ranjan said the situation was now under control. “Curfew has been imposed in Lohardaga town under Section 144 and sufficient forces have been deployed in the affected areas,” she said. Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code prohibits the assembly of four or more people.
Jharkhand police spokesperson ML Meena said preliminary reports showed that many vehicles and houses were set ablaze. He said efforts were being made to douse the flames, and intensive police patrolling was being carried out in the area.
The violence erupted around 1 pm on Thursday when the demonstrators, shouting pro-Citizenship Amendment Act slogans, were crossing Amlatoli Colony. Some miscreants hurled stones at the rally from the rooftop. Subsequently, violence broke out, in which many motorbikes and other vehicles were set ablaze. The police had to resort to baton-charge and tear gas to disperse the mob.
The organisers of the rally said they had taken permission from the police. However, they alleged that while they had asked for proper security, only a few police personnel were deployed.
In a tweet on Thursday night, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad said that the Jharkhand government, led by Chief Minister Hemant Soren, was responsible for the protection of Hindu households and institutions in Muslim-dominated localities following the “attack by Muslims on Hindus”. “We strongly condemn this attack,” he said. “Why is the administration silent?”
In a press statement issued on Friday, Vishwa Hindu Parishad functionary Milind Parande claimed that the violence being perpetrated in the country in the name of protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act is becoming “unbearable”. He said that while Hindus were being attacked in places like Lohardaga, even Delhi was not free from “sadistic aggressive activities”. Parande alleged that in Muslim-majority areas of Delhi, the life of Hindus and other non-Muslims has become a nightmare. Parande also accused the Congress and the “tukde-tukde gang” of spreading misinformation about the Act.
Lohardaga BJP MP Sudarshan Bhagat, who participated in the rally, also demanded that the government take stern action against the “criminal elements” who carried out the violence.
The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. Twenty-six people died in last month’s protests against the law – all in the BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Assam.
However, rallies have also been conducted in support of the Act. On January 15, the Kerala Police registered a case against more than 100 BJP workers for allegedly shouting communal slogans during a rally to support the Act, in Kuttiadi town. Pro-Citizenship Amendment Act rallies have also been held in Mumbai and Delhi. On December 21, controversial BJP leader Kapil Mishra posted a video of a pro-Act rally in Delhi, in which the protestors shouted “goli maaro saalo ko” [shoot them], a reference to the people protesting against the Act.