Communal violence, arson in several states mark Hindu festival Ram Navami

New Delhi, April 12 (KMS): Reports of communal violence during Navratri, a biannual Hindu festival that spans over nine nights, kept pouring in from across India in the night between April 10 and 11.

Different places in multiple states witnessed Hindutva mobs trespassing Muslim localities raising provocative slogans and attacking mosques and setting Muslim homes on fire with impunity. What is most intriguing about such incidents is all this violation took place under the watch of the police.

Reports said in a number of states including Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, Goa, Hindutva crowd of saffron clad men marched through Muslim streets amid objectionable slogans and war cries. Each of these processions would have a stopover right outside a mosque to hurl choicest invective against Muslims and their religion. This invariably leads to minor or major skirmishes between two groups, and at times prove a trigger to a full-fledged communal conflagration.

As per the visuals and first person accounts of the incidents on social media, massive clashes broke out in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone that left a number of people injured and homes and a mosque damaged. An unverified video shows a mosque in Khargone engulfed in flames with plumes of smoke emanating from the site. Another video shows youths pelting stones towards Muslim homes allegedly aided and abetted by the police. Stone pelting incidents were also reported from near the town’s Ayesha Yesha Masjid.

Massive clashes broke out in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone that left a number of people injured and homes and a mosque damaged, according to posts on social media.

It is being said that the violence lasted for hours before the authorities clamped curfew in parts of Khargone. An Indian Express report estimated that a total of 10 houses were burnt down while several people, including cops, were injured in the violence. Reports said clashes broke out near Talab Chowk mosque when some people opposed the provocative songs being played during the procession.

Notably, Kapil Mishra, BJP leader and a known provocateur, was in Khargone to attend the Shriram Janmotsav Shobha Yatra procession which culminated into the violence.

Accusing the police of mishandling the situation, Ravi Joshi, a Congress MLA said if they had ensured law and order when the procession was being carried out the violence would not have taken place. He noted that “there were hardly any police personnel at the spot”.

Violence was also reported from Sedhwa area, 60 kilometres from Khargone. Video clips show youths badly injured in the violence profusely bleeding.

Sunday was a tense day in Gujarat’s Anand and Sabarkantha districts where clashes were witnessed in Khambhat and Himmatnagar towns.

The police saidthat one person died in Khambhat town. His identity was not immediately known.

Reports and videos showed shops and vehicles on fire as the mobs rampaged through streets. The police fired teargas shells and lathi-charged crowds to control the situation.

The situation turned ugly in Himmatnagar at around noon when a religious procession on bikes and cars reached near a predominantly Muslim locality, Chhaparia. Soon after stone pelting, vandalism and arson led to clashes. VHP members also took out a rally in the area which also resulted in violence, reports said.

Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a civil society group in Ahmedabad, wrote a letter to the Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) demanding measures to ensure security is restored in areas hit by violence.

“We demand action against the anti-social elements who in the garb of 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,” the letter said.

Reports of communal violence during a Ram Navami procession were also received from West Bengal’s Howrah.

Similarly, stone pelting was witnessed in Jharkhand’s Lohardaga during religious marches. One person succumbed to his injuries in the town.

Vasco town of Goa also reported tensions after two groups of different communities clashed with each other. Herald Goa, a local news portal said that the situation deteriorated at around 8:30 pm when a Ram Navami rally reached Islampur-Baina. The participants complained that locals pelted stones on them. However, a Muslim youth said that they were assaulted by Hindu revelers without any rhyme or reasons. Police rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.

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