Nine states, 15 days: India is witnessing a spate of communal violence
In the past 15 days, Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti processions have descended into violence and chaos across states in the country. There are concerns that India is becoming more polarised than ever before
India in the past 10 days has witnessed violence and clashes across states and is currently on edge. The festivals of Hanuman Jayanti and Ram Navami have been marred by sectarian violence, sparking concern that the country is becoming more polarised than ever along Hindu-Muslim lines.
From Kolkata in the east to Gujarat in the west and from Delhi in the north to Andhra Pradesh in the south — violence and mayhem has broken out since last Sunday.
The violence wasn’t restricted to the streets, as the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University also witnessed protests and beatings on Ram Navami.
We take a look at what happened across the country and how India is a tinderbox of violence.
On 10 April, clashes broke out in Khargone city when a Ram Navami procession crossed the sensitive Talab Chowk area near Jama Masjid. According to some reports, the clash broke out when some people opposed the provocative songs being played during the procession.
A senior police official said that the violence was triggered after stones were hurled at the rally. Several vehicles and houses were torched during the violence and many, including three police personnel, were injured in the clash.
Over 95 people were arrested in connection with the violence and a curfew was also imposed.
The Madhya Pradesh government then razed 16 houses and 29 shops. The administration maintained that the action was against the miscreants involved in the attack on the Ram Navami procession.
Communal clashes broke out in Shibpur area of West Bengal’s Howrah city. Ten people were injured, with one being in critical condition, according to agency reports adding, the police resorted to lathi-charge and arrested 17 people in the matter.
According to a report in the Indian Express, the situation grew violent after an alleged provocative speech from the rally. On the other hand, participants in the rally allege that it was the local Muslims in the area who started pelting stones at them.
Stonepelting on Ram Navami procession in Howrah, Bengal. Later the police also lathicharged the Ram Navami procession.#RamNavami #BengalBurning pic.twitter.com/Z9hoURGH15
— Right Wing Nationalism (@rwingnat) April 11, 2022
The BJP alleged that the police had attacked the Ram Navami procession. Leader of Opposition in Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, accused police personnel of raining blows on those participating in the procession.
There was also a second instance of violence reported from Bankura’s Machantala. Reports said that a Ram Navami procession when stopped by the local police turned violent, as stones were hurled at the cops. This led to the authorities to lathi-charging and using tear gas against the participants.
In Gujarat’s Khambat city of Anand district, one person was killed and another injured in a clash during a Ram Navami procession. A few shops were set on fire as well. The police used tear gas to bring the situation under control.
In Himmatnagar city, members of two communities hurled stones at each other when a Ram Navami procession reached Chhapariya locality. The police had to fire teargas shells to control the situation, officials said.
Clashes were also reported in at least two districts of Jharkhand. Lohardagga district witnessed stone-pelting and arson attacks during Ram Navami processions. Three persons were reported to be critically injured in the clash.
Another instance of communal violence was seen in Bermo area of Bokaro district during Ram Navami procession.
JNU in Delhi
Violence also unfolded at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Kaveri Hostel late on the night of 11 April.
According to the Left’s JNU students’ union (JNUSU), the members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) created a ruckus, and assaulted members of the Kaveri Hostel mess over cooking of chicken. However, ABVP members alleged that members of Left-wing student outfits disrupted a prayer ceremony organised on the occasion of Ram Navami by shouting slogans.
The ensuing clashes left six students injured.
JNU Vice Chancellor Prof Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit called the violence “unfortunate” and also ordered a proctorial inquiry into it.
She had told News18 in an interview that the administration did not want such incidents to happen again as it had “zero tolerance” for violence. “We are a very secular institution and we believe that everybody is a JNUite first and all other identities come later.”
After the Ram Navami clashes, India once again witnessed violence on Hanuman Jayanti on 17 April.
Riots broke out in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri area; clashes were reported from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand and even subsequently in Maharashtra.
It all began over an altercation between Hindus and Muslims as a Hanuman Jayanti procession in Northwest Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, reached a mosque in the locality’s C Block on Saturday. Police managed to bring about a semblance of calm by forming a human chain between the two groups. However, tempers allegedly flared up over sloganeering, leading to violence.
Since the clashes, the authorities have arrested 21 people including the “main conspirators” and another person who allegedly fired a bullet that hit a sub-inspector.
Also read: Delhi riots: From 2022’s Jahangirpuri to Sadar Bazar in 1974, a history of communal clashes in the Capital
Police said there was stone-pelting and arson during the clashes between the two communities that left eight police personnel and a local injured. Some vehicles were also torched.
Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana denied that a saffron flag had been placed in the mosque and said people from “both communities” were being investigated. “Action will be taken against any person found guilty irrespective of their class, creed, community and religion,” he said.
The events in Jahangirpuri were far from isolated.
In Karnataka's Hubbali, stone-pelting reportedly took place at a police station. “Four policemen, including one inspector, were injured,” news agency ANI reported quoting police officials.
The stone-pelting incident took place over a derogatory social media post that went viral. It was reported that a youth purportedly posted an altered picture of a saffron flag hoisted atop the mosque in Mecca, according to a report in The News Minute.
Forty people have been arrested since and Section 144 was imposed.
Members of two communities clashed during a Hanuman Jayanti procession at in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh on Saturday.
According to a report in the Times of India, when the procession reached a mosque in Alur town, the Jayanti organisers switched off the mike, to respect the Ramzan observation. However, some allegedly chanted 'Jai Shri Ram' slogans, as per police reports.
The clash left 15 people injured. Police were deployed and the situation brought under control.
A Hanuman Jayanti procession was attacked with stones while it was crossing through a village in Bhagwanpur area near Roorkee in Haridwar district on Saturday evening leaving four persons injured, reported PTI.
Tension mounted in the area as people from adjoining villages gathered at the spot but a timely intervention by the police brought the situation under control.
Nine persons have been arrested and an FIR against 13 has been lodged in connection with the incident.
The situation was tense in the western state too. Curfew was clamped in Achalpur city in Amravati district of Maharashtra after members of two communities pelted each other with stones over the removal of religious flags.
Police said residents put up flags of various religions atop the Khidki Gate and the Dulha Gate at the main entrance of Achalpur each year during various festivals. “On Sunday midnight, some anti-social elements removed the flags leading to an altercation which escalated into stone-pelting. Police used tear gas shells to disperse the crowd,” a police inspector said.
This led to an altercation, but the police brought the situation under control quickly.
Apart from the Achalpur incident, a communal flare-up was also reported from Mumbai’s Aarey Colony in Goregaon on Sunday night, during a ‘Kalash Yatra’ held near a temple.
The violence occurred around 8 pm when a procession was being taken out from the Shiva temple in Gautam Nagar. Eight to ten people were said to be injured in the clashes.
Police immediately rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control. An FIR was filed in connection with the violence after which the police arrested 25 people.
With inputs from agencies
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