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New Delhi: Communal violence was reported from four states on Sunday as Hindu groups took out processions to mark Ram Navami. In Gujarat, one person died in the clashes. In Madhya Pradesh, while the home minister said that 77 people have been arrested, on social media claims have surfaced that most held are Muslims.
Violence in Gujarat was reported from Khambhat town of Anand district in Central Gujarat and Himmatnagar town of Sabarkantha district of North Gujarat, the Indian Express reported. An unidentified body was found in Anand on Sunday evening, police reported. Stone-pelting and arson were reported from both towns.
Abhishek Gupta, deputy superintendent of police in Khambat of Anand, told the Indian Express, “The body of a man around 60 years of age has been found from the area where the clashes took place. The victim has not been identified yet and the nature of his death will be confirmed only after a postmortem report. We have begun a crackdown and four persons have been detained… An FIR will be lodged in the matter.”
The violence in Himmatnagar reportedly began after the Ram Navami procession entered the Chhaparia area, which is dominated by minorities. Even after reports of violence, according to the Indian Express, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad decided to take out another rally in the same area.
Police said four of its officers were injured in the stone pelting.
The Minority Coordination Committee, an Ahmedabad-based rights organisation, has written to the Gujarat director general police asking for increased security and to take action against those who disturb peace. “We demand action against anti-social elements who in the garb of the religious programmes had been trying to disrupt peace and harmony in Gujarat. All CCTV footage in Himmatnagar should be checked and those caught carrying weapons without permission should be booked and arrested,” Indian Express quoted the letter as saying.
Curfew was imposed in three areas of Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone after reports of stone-pelting and arson during Ram Navami processions.
Khargone district collector Anugrah P. said Section 144 o(banning assembly of four or more people) has been imposed in the entire city. “Curfew has been clamped in three areas including Talab Chowk and Tavdi in the city,” he said, adding that incidents of minor arson occurred following the pelting of stones.
“When the Ram Navami procession started from the Talab Chowk area stones were allegedly pelted at the gathering, prompting the police to fire tear gas shells to control the situation. The procession was supposed to take a round of Khargone city but it was abandoned midway after the violence,” additional collector S.S. Mujalde said, according to NDTV.
Here too, the procession was taken through a Muslim-majority neighbourhood while playing religious music on loudspeakers. Four houses were set on fire and a temple was vandalised, the channel reported.
According to the Indian Express, at least two dozen people including Superintendent of Police (SP) Siddharth Choudhary, were injured.
Clashes were also reported from the adjoining Barwani district.
Later in the day on April 11, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Home Minister Narottam Mishra addressed the Khargone incident, calling it “unfortunate.” Mishra said that 77 people have been arrested, Express reported.
Reports on social media have recorded how houses belonging to poor Muslims are now being destroyed by JCB machines.
More houses belonging to poor Muslims being demolished in Khargone. pic.twitter.com/N3XYpyyhA4
— Sharjeel Usmani (@SharjeelUsmani) April 11, 2022
Kapil Mishra, who is alleged to have made speeches insinuating violence ahead of the Delhi riots in February 2020, was present at Khargone and tweeted in Hindi, “Not Musa, not Burhan, only jai jai Shri Ram.”
Clashes were reported during a Ram Navami procession in the Howrah’s Shibpur area on Sunday. Police said that they have taken steps to ensure peace and the situation is under control. The BJP, which is in the opposition in the state, claimed that the police had attacked the procession.
Police responded by asking citizens to maintain calm and not spread fake news.
According to NDTV, stone-pelting was also reported during a Ram Navami procession in Jharkhand’s Lohardaga, after which heavy police presence was deployed. Several people were reportedly injured.