Two days after a communal clash broke out during a Ganesh procession in the old city area of Vadodara, Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja on Saturday accused the Congress of causing communal disharmony in the city and warned that “anti-social elements” will not be spared by the police. Congress leader Chandrakant Shrivastav, whose banner was part of the Ganesh procession that came under attack, refuted the allegation, saying the BJP was trying to polarise the city ahead of the Assembly polls in the state.
“The Congress has caused communal disharmony to disrupt the development work undertaken by the government led by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. Whether it is a Hindu or Muslim, everyone wants peace. No body wants conflict and strife. The Gujarat government is committed to protecting each of the six crore citizens of the state… Anti-social elements, who provoked the peace and security of Vadodara city, will be caught and sent behind bars under the strictest sections by the police here,” Jadeja said, who was in the city to perform bhoomi puja of the new Panigate police station.
Jadeja also claimed that Gujarat was a “curfew-free state” after Narendra Modi took over the reins of the state 15 years ago. “…after Narendra Modi became chief minister, for the last 15 years, Gujarat has not witnessed curfew a single day. This is a curfew-free state. These anti-social elements were present earlier, they are present in every corner today. But due to the will power of the Gujarat government to protect people, such anti-social elements, who create communal disharmony, are not spared,” he said.
Jadeja showered praises on policemen, saying: “The credit for the development of Gujarat is not just to its infrastructure, but also to the duties rendered by the police department to upkeep the peace and security. Police work fearlessly due to the backing of the state government.”
The Congress hit back at the minister and blamed the BJP for inciting violence. “This attack on the Ganesh procession on Thursday was carried out by the BJP to create fear in the area as communal tension is their most important tool to sway votes. With the elections coming up, the BJP, which has only come into power based on its Hindutva agenda, will continue to fan communal sentiments in the city. I want to ask Jadeja that if his party (BJP) is in power in the state as well as in the city, why was he unable to prevent the riot. The entire police are under them,” Shrivastav, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the VMC, said.
Meanwhile, representatives of the Muslim community submitted a memorandum to Commissioner of Police Manoj Sashidhar, demanding an SIT probe into Thursday’s clash. In the memorandum, the Muslim community said that the clash was a result of the political rivalry of two prominent leaders belonging to the ‘Hindu community’ and the Muslim community has been wrongly accused for it.
The police have booked 2,700 people in the case. “We demand that an SIT must be formed to investigate the cause of the clash that occurred on Thursday night, during a Ganesh procession passing through the old city. We have learnt that the clash was a result of a political rivalry between two influential leaders of the Hindu community. The Muslim community has been wrongly accused of participating in the riots,” the memorandum stated.
They also alleged the clash and the subsequent rioting was pre-planned and executed by political workers. “All those who damaged the properties in the area, vehicles and shops must be arrested and severely punished. Workers of political parties who played a role in the clash must also be booked along with police officers who were ineffective in preventing the clash and containing the violence,” the memorandum stated.
Shaukat Indori, a representative of the Muslim community said, “The organisers of the Ganesh procession have publicly spoken about the involvement of political parties in the attack on them. They have said that political rivalry was the cause of the clash, whereas the Muslim community members helped them carry the Ganesh idol safely. It is unfortunate that to promote political interests, some people are blaming the Muslims.”