AURANGABAD/PUNE: Two persons died and over 50, including 12 police personnel, were injured after clashes broke out between two communities on Friday night in Aurangabad.
Over 100 shops were torched and 40 vehicles were damaged in Shahgunj and Chelipura areas.
The violence began around 10.30 pm on Friday in Moti Karanja and continued till early Saturday morning. Mobs carrying petrol bombs, stones, sticks and sharp weapons went on the rampage in several localities near Shahgunj.
An uneasy calm prevailed in the city as most of the areas limped back to normalcy on Saturday evening with Section 144 (prohibiting an assembly of more than four persons in an area) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) implemented by the police to preclude further law and order situations. Internet services were immediately suspended. Shops remained closed for most of the day in almost half of Aurangabad on Saturday.
According to the police and local residents, the 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. It got a communal colour when an illegal water connection at a place of worship in the area was removed.
Also, hawkers were forcefully removed from the area as they wanted to organise Meena Bazaar during the forthcoming month of Ramzan. “The hawkers and shopkeepers are from different communities and the shopkeepers are opposed to Meena Bazaar,” a local resident told Sakal Times.
Jaganlal Chhaganlal Bansile (62), a physically challenged, could not escape after a hotel adjacent to his house was set on fire around 5.30 am. The police fired teargas and rubber bullets to control rioting mobs. A 17-year-old youth, Abdul Harish Harun Qadri of Jinsi, succumbed to bullet injuries at the hospital, DCP (zone I) Vinayak Dhakne said.
About 40 people have been arrested for rioting and arson. Many rioters looted shops, the police said. The condition of ACP Govardhan Kolekar, who was injured while controlling the mobs, was said to be serious.
AIMIM MLA from Aurangabad Central Syed Imtiaz Jaleel, under whose constituency most of the damage occurred, said, “About a week ago, I had met the police commissioner and requested him to take action as tension was brewing in the area and some politicians wanted to give it a communal colour. Had the police acted in time, the riots could have been averted.”
The officiating Aurangabad city Police Commissioner, Milind Bharambe, ordered the suspension of mobile and Internet services for 48 hours as a precautionary measure. “The situation is under control and we appeal to citizens not to believe rumours. Section 144 has been imposed and people have been asked not to assemble. We are taking strict action against rioters. We are yet to ascertain the exact cause of the violence and investigations are on,” Bharambe added.
Shiv Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire alleged that it was a pre-planned riot. “If it was not, then how come petrol bombs and stones were used in the riots in a large number? There were a handful of police personnel on Friday night, who could not control the mobs, which resulted in the loss of lives and properties worth crores of rupees was damaged,” Khaire added.
The leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, Dhananjay Munde, alleged that the violence reflected a failure of the State intelligence machinery. He demanded a judicial probe into the incident. Appealing for peace, the NCP leader asked the police to take local people into confidence while handling the tense situation.
AURANGABAD CITY TURNS INTO A FORTRESS FOLLOWING VIOLENCE
After the violence erupted on Friday night, heavy police bandobast was deployed in several sensitive areas. Four companies of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF), besides 1,200 police personnel, including riot control teams, were also deployed
NO FULL-TIME POLICE COMMISSIONER SINCE THE PAST TWO MONTHS
After the State government sent Aurangabad Police Commissioner Yashasvi Yadav on compulsory leave on March 15 after allegations of police high-handedness during protests over the dumping of garbage on the outskirts of Aurangabad on March 7, Special IG (Aurangabad range) Milind Bharambe is holding the additional charge of the police commissioner.
‘STATE GOVT WILL TAKE TOUGH ACTION’
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was in Pune on Saturday, said, “Right now, there is peace in Aurangabad. Yesterday (Friday night), there was a problem due to some minor issue. We will find out the exact cause of the riots and take stringent action against culprits.”