Ram Navami festivities were marred by clashes in several parts of the country, with at least 22 people injured and 54 people apprehended, police said. The violence broke out soon after the Supreme Court took serious exception to hate speeches saying these will end the moment politics and religions are separated and politicians stop using religion in politics.
West Bengal violence
In West Bengal’s Howrah district, violence and arson erupted between two groups while a Ram Navami procession was passing through the area. Several vehicles were set on fire, stones were pelted and shops were ransacked on Thursday evening.
Visuals from the area showed a heavy police deployment, including riot control force. A police van and a car with their glasses broken were also seen in the visuals.
The clashes broke out when the Ram Navami procession was crossing the Kazipara locality, news agency PTI reported a police officer as saying. Some men in the rally used sticks to deflect stones thrown at them from a nearby roof. Several cars, including a few police vehicles, were set ablaze during the violence and the police had to fire tear gas shells to disperse the mob.
Four fire tenders were rushed to the spot to extinguish the blaze.
A large contingent of security personnel was deployed in the area where the situation is now said to be under control.
Mamata Banerjee accuses BJP
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee
“I have repeatedly said that no Ram Navami procession will be blocked. I had given clear instructions to the police in this regard. While one community is celebrating Annapurna Puja, the other is observing fast during Ramzan,” she said in Kolkata, while concluding her 30-hour dharna to protest against Centre’s policies, as per PTI.
“No one stopped you from bringing out a rally. But who gave you the permission to bring out rallies with people brandishing swords and bulldozers? As if the BJP-led Centre has given them the permission to do whatever they feel like,” she stated.
“Those who were involved in today’s violence will not be spared. I do not support riot mongers and consider them the enemy of the country. The BJP has always targeted Howrah. The other targets for them are Park Circus and Islampur. Everybody must be alert in their localities,” she said.
The chief minister claimed that the BJP had hired goons from other states to orchestrate communal violence.
“Why did they change the route [at the last moment] and take the unauthorized route to target and attack one community? If they believe they will attack others and get relief through legal interventions, they must know that the people will reject them one day,” she said, as quoted by PTI.
BJP blames CM
Terming the CM’s claims as baseless, Leader of Opposition BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari said that the CM and the state administration are responsible for the violence.
“As Bengal’s CM and home minister, Mamata Banerjee is directly responsible for the violence. She should have looked after police management with over 10,000 processions being taken out, Instead she was sitting on a dharna doing politics,” said BJP’s Amit Malviya.
West Bengal BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar countered Banerjee’s allegation saying, “TMC is lying because it was not the wrong route. There was permission till Howrah ground and there is only one route to get there.” he told news agency ANI.
As per PTI, police have detained 24 persons for allegedly hurling stones at two Ram Navami processions in communally-sensitive areas in Vadodara city of Gujarat, a top official said, on Friday.
The incidents had occurred on Thursday when Ram Navami was celebrated.
Some vehicles were also damaged in the Fatehpura area of the city.
Communal tension in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar
In Maharashtra’s Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar (formerly known as Aurangabad), a mob hurled stones and bottles filled with petrol when the police tried to restore peace following a clash between two groups near a famous Ram temple on Wednesday night.
This sparked tensions, and left 12 people, including 10 policemen, injured. Four people have been detained, police officials familiar with the matter said. The miscreants also torched 13 vehicles.
According to the police, in the early hours of Thursday in Sambhajinagar’s Kiradpur locality, two groups of five people each turned violent near the Ram Temple.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde appealed to citizens to maintain calm so that peace is quickly restored in the city.