Communal clashes marred Friday evening in Vadodara and went on until late in the night as two communities clashed in different parts of the city. While the police downplayed the incident, six tear gas shells were fired with locals claiming that mobs from both communities clashed right after the evening namaz in the area.
The incident began at about 7.30 pm on Friday, in Panigate, when a motorcycle rider, belonging to one community allegedly got into a scuffle with a group of another community. Muslim spiritual leader, Gadinaseen Haji Dastagir Shaikh from the Pir Dada Sadanshah Sharmast Hussain Syed Mastan Baba Darbar in the communally sensitive Juni Gadi area of Panigate in the city said that the argument soon turned into a full-blown communal clash as mobs from both communities began pelting stones. Dastagir said, “The stone pelting began after the argument between members of two communities over a parking issue in the area. Within a matter of minutes we could see stones being hurled. Several people have got hurt in the stone pelting.”
The violence soon spread to other sensitive parts of the city including Yakutpura, Chipwad and other neighborhoods where residents allege that local gangs got involved in the clashes and “fired rounds” in the air to scare people. Police Commissioner Satish Sharma denied any firing had occurred and said, “There was a cracker that went off in the area and residents came out and a minor incident of stone pelting occurred. But the police arrived in time to bring the situation under control. We have fired six tear gas shells.” Residents also said that gates of three temples were damaged in the ensuing stone pelting in the area as well as an SRPF point in the vicinity, which aggravated public anger. Sharma denied that the mob had attacked religious places of worship in the areas.
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Local BJP leaders also came out to their respective areas in order to understand the situation. Corporator Chandrakant Thakkar said, “The clash has occurred at the behest of the local Bicchoo gang and their members have fired rounds in the air to instigate people. The police are, however, not doing anything to probe into that aspect. About 50 cars have been smashed and there are glass pieces and stones strewn everywhere in the area.”
Eyewitnesses said at least ten persons were injured in the clash and rushed to private hospitals, in order to avoid being rounded up by the police. About five women have been injured, according to locals. The police control said no injuries were reported. At the time of going to press, heavy police presence continued at the clash sites.