Courtesy @PTI Maharastra Violence
While 132 people have been detained thus far following clashes that left one person dead and 13 others injured, including two policemen, in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra’s Akola city and Shevgaon village over the past two days, it has proven difficult for police to put a stop to potential flare-ups in other places.
While BJP state minister Girish Mahajan suggested that the violence in Akola may have been “pre-planned,” deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis asserted that the government will teach those organisations and individuals a lesson.
A dispute over a religious social media post on Saturday night in Akola’s sensitive Old City region resulted in one person being killed and eight others, including two policeman, being hurt. As a result, police tightened curfew in several areas.
The two groups’ members engaged in extensive vandalism and stone-throwing. During the unrest, some two- and four-wheeled vehicles were set on fire by the rioters.
In Shevgaon village in Ahmednagar district in west Maharashtra, at least five persons were injured in a clash over a procession on Sunday night. Several shops and vehicles were damaged in stone pelting, police said on Monday.
Police have detained 132 people- more than 100 in Akola and 32 in Shevgaon- so far. Cases were registered against 150 people in Shevgaon, located 65 km from the Ahmednagar district headquarters, an official said.
After the violence in Akola, District Magistrate Nima Arora ordered a curfew, which requires people to stay at home, in four police station areas of the city to maintain law and order, a senior officer said.
On Monday, the official said, the curfew was relaxed in areas under the jurisdiction of City Kotwali and Ramdas Peth police station limits. However, it will remain in force within the limits of Dabki Road and Old City police stations at night (between 8 pm and 8 am), while some relaxations will be provided during day time, he said.
Internet services remain suspended in Akola and Shevgaon to check the spread of rumours, officials said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Monday instructed the police to take strict action against those behind the riots in Akola and Shevgaon and appealed to people to maintain peace and social harmony, said his office.
“The situation in Akola and Shevgaon is now under control and the police force is deployed. On the instructions of state home minister Devendra Fadnavis, state rural development minister Girish Mahajan has personally visited Akola while revenue minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil reviewed the situation in Shegaon,” the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said in a statement.
Fadnavis said, “It is 100 per cent true there are some people and organisations that want the state to remain unstable. But the government will expose them and also teach them a lesson”.
Earlier in the day, State Rural Development Minister Girish Mahajan claimed the clash was possibly “pre-planned”. Mahajan visited the affected areas in Akola on Sunday.
“Some houses and vehicles were damaged. Strict action would be taken against the culprits,” he told reporters after meeting the family of the man, Vilas Gaikwad (40), killed in the violence.
Mahajan said the government has announced assistance of Rs 4 lakh for the family of the deceased.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader and former Aurangabad MP Chandrakant Khaire claimed that riots were being instigated in Maharashtra to stop Muslim votes from shifting towards the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).
Ever since the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis coalition has come to power, communal tensions are taking place, Khaire alleged.