10 days of hate: Unprecedented sectarian violence since Ram Navami day
The past 10 days – since April 10, Ram Navami day – have seen a spate of communal incidents in India. Hanuman Jayanti and Ram Navami have been marred by sectarian violence in several states, sparking concern that the country is becoming more polarised than ever.
From West Bengal to Gujarat, Delhi to Andhra Pradesh – violence and mayhem have broken out in several states.
Here is a brief account of the incidents that have shaken the country.
On April 10, stones were allegedly pelted at a Ram Navami procession in Khargone City, prompting the police to fire tear gas shells to control the situation. This allegedly triggered communal violence, resulting in arson, in which several vehicles and houses were set ablaze.
More than 95 people were arrested in connection with the violence and a curfew was also imposed.
The state government then razed 16 houses and 29 shops. The authorities defended the demolitions by saying they had acted against “rioters” and “encroachers”. But critics and several people whose properties were destroyed said only Muslim homes were targeted.
Communal clashes broke out in Shibpur area of Howrah City during a Ram Navami procession. Ten people were injured. The police resorted to lathi-charge and arrested 17 people.
According to a report in The Indian Express, the situation grew violent after an alleged provocative speech from the rally. Participants in the rally claimed that it was the local Muslims who started pelting stones at them.
The BJP alleged that the police had attacked the Ram Navami procession. Leader of Opposition 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. This forced the authorities to lathi-charge and use tear gas against the participants.
In Khambat City, one person was killed and another injured in a clash during a 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. Lohardagga witnessed stone-pelting and arson attacks during Ram Navami processions. Three persons were reported to be critically injured in the clash.
Violence was also seen in Bermo area of Bokaro District during a Ram Navami procession.
Violence erupted at a hostel in JNU late on April 11.
According to the JNU students’ union (JNUSU), members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) 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.
Six students were injured in the violence.
Vice Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit called the violence “unfortunate” and also ordered a proctorial inquiry into it.
She told News18: “We are a very secular institution and we believe that everybody is a JNUite first and all other identities come later.”
India once again witnessed violence on Hanuman Jayanti on April 17.
An altercation broke out between Hindus and Muslims as a Hanuman Jayanti procession in Northwest Delhi’s Jahangirpuri reached a mosque. Police managed to bring about a semblance of calm by forming a human chain between the two groups. However, they were unable to prevent violence.
The authorities later arrested 21 people, including the “main conspirators”, and another person who allegedly fired a bullet that hit a sub-inspector.
The police said there was stone-pelting and arson during the clashes, which left eight personnel injured.
Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana denied that a saffron flag had been placed on 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.
In Hubbali, a police station was pelted with stones. “Four policemen, including one inspector, were injured,” news agency ANI said.
The 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 were arrested and Section 144 was imposed.
Hindus and Muslims clashed during a Hanuman Jayanti procession in Kurnool District.
According to a report, when the procession reached a mosque in Alur town, the 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.
Curfew was clamped in Achalpur City in Amravati District after members of two communities pelted each other with stones over the removal of religious flags.
A communal incident was also reported from Mumbai’s Aarey Colony, during a ‘Kalash Yatra’.
Eight to ten people were said to be injured in the clashes.