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New Delhi: Ninety seven people were arrested after communal tensions heightened in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur, hours before Eid on Tuesday. Authorities have also suspended mobile internet services and imposed a curfew in areas that come under the jurisdiction of 10 police stations across the city.
Three injured people are undergoing treatment at hospitals while 12-15 others have been discharged after primary treatment, the Rajasthan government has said.
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, whose hometown is Jodhpur, has appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony. He also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party’s central leadership of trying to defame the state government.
At midnight on Monday, May 2, a clash broke out over the hoisting of a flag on the statue of a freedom fighter, Balmukund Bissa, near the city’s Jalori Gate, Indian Express has reported. Another flag installed at the statue ahead of Parshuram Jayanti was reported as having gone missing.
The situation was brought under control in the early hours of Tuesday. Police lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the crowd. Five policemen were injured, the police control room said. However, fresh clashes began after prayers at an Eidgah.
Shops, vehicles and houses were pelted with stones near the Jalori gate area. Consequently, mobile internet services were suspended in the area to check the spread of rumours, officials said.
CM urges peace
Gehlot in a tweet urged people to maintain peace and called the incident unfortunate in a series of tweets.
“While respecting the tradition of love and brotherhood of Jodhpur, Marwar, I make an appeal to all parties to maintain peace and cooperate in restoring law and order,” he said.
राजस्थान में सभी समाज और धर्मों के लोग सभी त्योहारों को प्रेम और भाईचारे से मनाते आए हैं और विशेषकर जोधपुर अपनी अपनायत के लिए जाना जाता है। यह परंपरा बनी रहनी चाहिए।
मेरी आमजन से शांति बनाए रखने की अपील है।
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) May 3, 2022
The chief minister said leaders of all political parties should ask their workers to maintain peace and they all should remain united.
Gehlot also chaired a high-level meeting at the Chief Minister’s office to review the situation. He also asked ministers Rajendra Yadav and Subhash Garg, and two officers to go to Jodhpur by helicopter.
Yadav and Garg, along with the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and the Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) visited the violence-hit area and a hospital.
Yadav told reporters at a press conference that more than 50 people have been arrested and efforts are being made to identify others. More were arrested since then, police said.
“We will hold a meeting with officials to discuss every aspect of the incident. If any officer has not shared the correct information with the government, then the officer will be removed,” he said.
मुख्यमंत्री कार्यालय पर जोधपुर में हुई घटना की उच्च स्तरीय समीक्षा करते हुए पुलिस और प्रशासन को शांति व्यवस्था बनाए रखने की दिशा में आवश्यक कदम उठाने के निर्देश दिए।
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) May 3, 2022
The CM directed officials to take stern action against those responsible for it.
“A criminal, irrespective of his religion, caste or class, must not be spared,” the CM told officials.
Later, he told news channels that the it was the agenda of the BJP to defame him.
“It is their job to incite Hindu-Muslim riots. How long can you do politics in the name of polarisation? This country belongs to all religions, all castes and PM Modi and central government also have to understand this, he said.
On the other hand, the BJP targeted the state government over law and order and Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat claimed that police are working under pressure.
Shekhawat said that he, along with other party leaders, will sit on a dharna at the Jalori gate circle if rioters are not arrested.
“One man was stabbed and is struggling for life in hospital. The miscreants also insulted women and broke the leg of a minor girl. They also tried to damage a temple in the Sunaro Ka Baas area,” he alleged.
BJP MLA Suryakanta Vyas visited the Jalori Gate area. Other BJP leaders like state president Satish Poonia and former chief minister Vasundhara Raje also targeted the state government.
Congress, meanwhile, accused BJP of spreading hatred in poll-bound states, citing communal clashes in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the BJP has “unleashed a sinister and hateful agenda” in Rajasthan as also in the other election-bound states.
He alleged that there will be no communal riots now in Uttar Pradesh or in Uttarakhand as elections are over there and the saffron party’s purpose has been served.
“Their agenda is to befool people. Their agenda is to divide people. Their agenda is always to do politics of Hindu-Musalman, Shamshan-Kabristan. Their agenda is to put religious and communal divide in the forefront so that the issues of inflation, unemployment, progress and development get relegated to the dustbin,” Surjewala told reporters.
“They want that Hindus and Muslims should fight so that nobody asks Modi Ji ‘where are the 15 lakh in every account that you promised’. They want Hindus and Muslims to fight in election going states so that people do not question them on their promise of 2 crore jobs a year and the 16 crore jobs to be created over eight years of the Modi government,” he said.
The Congress leader said the BJP wants a Hindu-Muslim fight so that no questions are asked on the price of pulses, food items, atta, vegetables, milk and edible oil and all these issues are relegated to the background.
Surjewala also drew the attention of the public to the remarks of a BJP MLA, who said that if there are ditches in the road and people cannot walk, they should say “Don’t pay attention to the ditches or lack of development and say – we are a Hindu Rashtra”.
(With PTI inputs)