Mumbai: Two persons died and 46 others were injured when a protest here against Assam riots turned violent as demonstrators torched vehicles, including media vans, and pelted stones, forcing the police to fire in the air and use batons to disperse the unruly mob on Saturday.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said that a statewide alert has been issued to ensure there is no adverse fallout. He said CRPF, Rapid Action Force and Mumbai Police have been deployed at all sensitive locations in the city.
Hundreds of people poured in at Azad Maidan Ground in south Mumbai Saturday afternoon on a call given by a city-based outfit, Raza Academy, to denounce the riots in Assam and also alleged attacks on a minority community in Myanmar.
They suddenly turned unruly and torched vehicles, damaged buses and pelted stones. Police opened fire in the air and resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the mob and restore order, said a policeman deployed at the Azad Maidan.
Two of the injured later succumbed in a Government hospital at south Mumbai. Among the injured were some media persons.
"Two deaths have been reported and 46 have been injured out of which, 36 are policemen. It's been quiet in Assam the last three days. I request people not to give any false information," said Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.
"Two persons, who were injured during the violence at Azad Maidan and were in critical condition, died while undergoing treatment at St George Hospital," a police officer told PTI.
Police said they were trying to ascertain the victims' identity. Security has been stepped up at religious places across the metropolis.
Azad Maidan, a regular venue for protests, is located near local civic body headquarters and Mumbai CST railway station. The bustling area wore a deserted look as policemen cordoned off the locality and patrolled the streets.
The situation has been brought under control, police said, adding cause of the violence was being probed.
Due to the unrest, suburban train services and road traffic were disrupted.
The injured are admitted in St George, G T and J J Hospitals, officials at Disaster Control Room said.
"Three media OB vans and a police vehicle were set on fire. A BEST (civic) bus, two four-wheelers and five two- wheelers were damaged in the stone pelting," they stated.
Meanwhile, Raza Academy distanced itself from the violence. "While we were protesting, some people got aggressive and started behaving violently," Mohammed Saeed, General Secretary of the academy, said. "We never encourage violence and strongly condemn such acts.
With inputs from PTI