An indefinite curfew was imposed in Maharashtra’s Amravati city on Saturday after internet services were blocked for three days, due to violence during a bandh allegedly called by the BJP. A mob that managed to overpower police damaged shops and property in areas like Rajkamal Chowk and Gandhi Chowk, where the violence first erupted.
Supporters of the BJP and other right wing outfits were marching against pelting of stones at rallies held by Muslim organisations to protest communal violence in Tripura, across the state on Friday.
On Saturday, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) said news on social media about a mosque being vandalised in Tripura was “fake” and “a complete misrepresentation of facts”. It also said reports of violence from Maharashtra were “very concerning”.
Commissioner of Police Arti Singh said internet services were suspended to prevent the spread of rumours, which can fuel more violence. The curfew, imposed earlier on Saturday, will remain in force for four days, Singh added.
Hundreds holding saffron flags in their hands and raising slogans came out on the streets in Rajkamal Chowk area of Amravati, located around 670 km from Mumbai. The mob hurled stones at shops and other places, Singh said, adding that police lathi-charged protesters to bring the situation under control.
Additional police commissioner Sandip Patil said Sections 144 of the CrPc was imposed in the city to avoid any untoward incidents. Except for medical emergencies, people are not allowed to come out of their homes. A gathering of more than five people is not allowed, as per the order.
On Friday, there were reports of people hurling stones during rallies taken out by Muslim organisations to protest incidents in Tripura at Amravati, Nanded, Malegaon, Washim and Yavatmal.
Police have, so far, arrested 20 people and detained four others by registering 20 FIRs under various charges, including rioting, in connection with Friday’s incidents. In Amravati, over 8,000 people had gathered outside the district collector’s office on Friday to submit a memorandum demanding that atrocities against the minority community in Tripura be stopped.
When people were leaving after submitting the memorandum, stone-pelting took place at three places between Chitra Chowk and Cotton Market under the limits of the Kotwali police station. Meanwhile, launching a veiled attack on opposition BJP, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Saturday said the violence in Amravati and other places was aimed at destabilising the MVA government.
Speaking to reporters in Aurangabad, Raut said the state government is firm in the saddle and real faces of the perpetrators of violence will be exposed soon. “Raising the bogey of violence, they (Opposition) will meet the state governor and write letters to the Union home ministry claiming that the (law and order) situation in Maharashtra is deteriorating. This will happen in the future too. But the state government is firm in the saddle,” Raut said.
Amravati district guardian minister Yashomati Thakur said some anti-social elements are trying to vitiate the atmosphere by throwing stones at shops. “The state government will take necessary action. However, some people are using this for political gains,” she said and appealed to people to not believe rumours.
AIMIM MP Imtiaz Jaleel has also condemned the violence in Amravati. “I want to question those leaders in the state who came to power by taking the votes of Muslims why they didn’t condemn the violence in Tripura. If this violence in Maharashtra is a ‘tit for tat’ by any political party then this is the example of irresponsibility,” he said.
Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis said it was wrong to organise rallies in the state for an incident that “never occurred” in Tripura and appealed to people to exercise restraint.The Tripura government and local police have clarified that no religious place of a minority community was burned down. They have issued pictures of the same as well. I appeal to both the communities to observe restraint, the former chief minister told reporters in Mumbai.
The senior BJP leader also said that political parties in the state government should not give inflammatory statements.