The violence appeared to be pre-planned as shops were targetted selectively in some areas, a senior police officer said.
The situation in Maharashtra’s riot-hit Aurangabad city today remained tense, but under control, four days after the violence claimed two lives and left over 60 people, including 12 policemen, injured. The police have registered six cases in which nearly 3,000 unidentified people were booked for offences like arson, rioting and damaging public property, an official said. Internet services were restored this morning and prohibitory orders clamped under Section 144 of the CrPC revoked in the central Maharashtra city, he said. Besides the local police, seven State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) battalions were deployed in the violence-affected areas, the official said. Additional Director General of Police Bipin Bihari, after reviewing the situation in the city, located in the Marathwada region, admitted that the police had failed to prevent and contain the spread of violence and to take action against the rioters.
Acting Commissioner of Police Milind Bharambe will conduct an inquiry into the allegations against a city police inspector for not preventing the violence and ignoring complaints about it, Bihari told reporters here yesterday. Earlier, a purported video of some police personnel walking with rioters during the violence surfaced, prompting the state police to order an inquiry into it. “We have asked people (who have the video recording) to deposit the footage to the police. We will check its authenticity and appropriate action will be taken if we find their (policemen’s) involvement,” Bihari had said. Two persons – a 65-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy – were killed and around 60 others, including a dozen policemen, injured in clashes between groups of two communities over illegal water connections on May 11. Several shops and scores of vehicles were torched during the riots in the city, located about 350 kms from Mumbai.
Bihari said that a senior police official, who was seriously injured in the violence, had been shifted to Mumbai by air ambulance for further treatment. The 17-year-old boy was killed allegedly in police firing. Besides, the other deceased elderly man was trapped in his house when an adjoining shop was set on fire by rioters, an official had earlier said. Petrol bombs and kerosene-soaked balls made of rags were found during a search operation, the police said. Maharashtra BJP chief Raosaheb Danve yesterday assured that an inquiry would be conducted into the cause of riots and the culprits would not be spared. Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil had earlier said that a high-level committee would inquire into the incident. The Shiv Sena yesterday dubbed the riots as a “communal” and “pre-planned” act of violence.
The BJP’s bickering ally also rapped the state Home department, headed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, over the security lapses and failing to appoint a police commissioner for the city, which is considered a “highly sensitive” area. Aurangabad Police Commissioner Yashasvi Yadav was sent on compulsory leave in March this year due to his alleged failure to handle a riot-like situation in the city over the garbage disposal issue. The clashes between groups of two communities started in Moti Karanja area around 10 pm on May 11 and spread to Gandhi Nagar, Raja Bazaar, Shah Ganj and Sarafa localities, a police official had earlier said. The police fired in the air and lobbed teargas shells to control the situation, he said. Tension was brewing in Moti Karanja area for the last few days as the municipal corporation was carrying out a drive against illegal water connections, according to sources in Aurangabad.
It got a communal colour when an illegal water connection at a place of worship in the area was removed, the sources said. The violence appeared to be pre-planned as shops were targetted selectively in some areas, a senior police officer said. A building in the Raja Bazar area was set ablaze to allegedly evacuate some tenants staying there, according to the police. A local leader alleged that a history-sheeter had taken ‘supari’ (contract) for the evacuation and rioting. Meanwhile, the father of the deceased 17-year-old boy demanded an inquiry into the incident and action against the history-sheeter under charges for murder. Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, demanded the arrest of Chandrakant Khaire, the Shiv Sena’s Lok Sabha member from Aurangabad, for his statements on riots.