Violent clashes between members of the Bharwad and Rajput communities in two districts of Gujarat today left one person dead and two seriously injured, the police said. The clashes, during which firearms were used, took place in Morbi and adjoining Surendranagar district, where Internet services have been suspended for the time being to curb rumour mongering, officials said. Incidents of arson, stone-pelting and rioting were reported from near Morbi district’s Halvad town and in some villages around Surendranagar’s Dhrangadhra town, the police said. Trouble began when members of the Rajput community had an altercation with the Bharwads while they were going to Dhrangadhra for a condolence meeting of Rajput leader Indrasinh Zala, who was hacked to death last Friday, officers at the Morbi police control said.
“Some Rajputs and Bharwads came face to face near Halvad after some persons hurled stones on the former. The groups clashed when the Rajputs from different parts of Morbi district were headed towards Dhrangadhra to attend Zala’s ‘besna’ (condolence meet),” SP (Morbi) Jaypalsinh Rathod said. During the clashes in Halvad this evening, around 30 vehicles were torched. One person from the Bharwad community died, while two others were seriously injured, he said.
“The situation is under control as a large number of police personnel have been deployed on the Halvad-Dhrangadhra road,” the SP said. Meanwhile, Gujarat Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja urged the people from both the communities to remain calm. “To prevent the spread of rumours, we have suspended Internet services in Morbi and Surendranagar. As many as seven companies of the State Reserve Police have been sent to control the situation. SPs of Rajkot, Jamnagar and Gandhidham districts along with three Range IGs were also sent to the affected areas,” said Jadeja.
Zala, a former president of Dhrangadhra municipality, was in jail since 2013 in connection with the murder of a Bharwad community member and was hacked to death a day after he was released on parole. Since then, the situation in Dhrangadhra has been tense, said an official of the Surendranagar police control room. According to Surendranagar SP Deepak Kumar Meghani, violence in Halvad sparked clashes near Dhrangadhra. “After Halvad, clashes spread to Dhrangadhra. Violent mobs also torched several vehicles and attacked shops at Chuli village. We have called for reinforcements to tackle the situation,” said Meghani.