A day after communal clash in the old city area of Vadodara, police on Friday booked 2,700 people for rioting and also planned a public rally in the presence of MoS Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja to instil “a sense of law and order” among the public. Commissioner of Police (CP) Manoj Sashidhar said the rally would be organised on Saturday ahead of the upcoming festivities in the city.
According to police inspector M D Puwar, unidentified person pelted stones from Masum Chember Lane on a Ganesh procession on Mandvi-Panigate road, which triggered the clash. Police said the dispute was over playing loudspeaker in the procession.
A police notification prohibits the use of DJ sound systems in processions passing through the area. Sashidhar clarified that the organisers had taken permission for playing “loudspeakers”, which was not prohibited.
Electricity supply was also snapped in the area, which added to the chaos.
Assistant Commissioner of Police V P Gamit said several vehicles were damaged, including torching of seven two-wheelers. “A shop was also torched. Police had to lob 39 tear gas cells. Nine people, including four policemen, sustained minor injuries,” said Gamit. Puwar said a probe had been initiated. “We are checking CCTV footage of the area. We are also trying to find out how the electricity supply got disconnected,” said Puwar. The accused have been booked under IPC Sections 143 (punishment of offence against the public tranquility), 144 (joining unlawful assembly armed with deadly weapon), 145 (joining or continuing in unlawful assembly), 146 (rioting), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed…), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) and 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance …).
CP Sashidhar said in order to ensure peaceful Ganpati festival, they are holding a jaher sabha (rally) during the foundation stone-laying ceremony of new Panigate police station on Saturday. “The home minister will be there. All residents are invited to join us.”
According to Sashidhar, the police responded in the nick of time to bring the situation under control on Thursday. “The best part was that locals helped transport the Ganesh idol to a safe place and in the process, no one was harmed,” he said.