The death toll in the violent clashes between members of Bharwad and Rajput communities in Gujarat’s Morbi and Surendranagar districts has risen to two, police said on Friday. Two persons were also injured in the clashes that took place on Thursday. Internet services have been suspended in both districts for the time being to curb rumour-mongering on social media, as per a government order.
Incidents of arson, stone-pelting and rioting were reported from near Morbi district’s Halvad town and in some villages around Surendranagar’s Dhrangadhra town on Thursday, the police said.
“A man died of a bullet injury last evening in Halvad while another person, who was attacked with a sword at a village near Dhrangadhra, succumbed in the early hours today. Both of them were from the Bharwad community. Few others were also injured,” Surendranagar Superintendent of Police Dipak Kumar Meghani told PTI.
“We have formed three teams to nab culprits,” he said.
Members of the Rajput community had an altercation with Bharwads while they were going to Dhrangadhra for a condolence meeting of Rajput leader Indrasinh Zala, who was hacked to death last Friday, an official at Morbi police control room said.
“Some Rajputs and Bharwads came face to face near Halvad after some persons hurled stones on the former. The groups clashed when Rajputs from different parts of Morbi district were headed towards Dhrangadhra to attend Zala’s ‘besna’ (condolence meet),” Morbi SP Jaypalsinh Rathod said.
During the clashes in Halvad yesterday, around 30 vehicles were torched. One person from the Bharwad community died in firing during the clash, while two others were seriously injured. One person also died in the adjoining Surendranagar district, he said.
“The situation is under control as a large number of police personnel have been deployed on the Halvad-Dhrangadhra road,” the SP said.
Gujarat Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja urged the people from both the communities to remain calm.
“To prevent the spread of rumours, we have suspended Internet services in Morbi and Surendranagar. As many as seven companies of the State Reserve Police have been sent to control the situation,” Jadeja said.
“The SPs of Rajkot, Jamnagar and Gandhidham districts along with three Range IGs were also sent to the affected areas,” he said.
Zala, a former president of Dhrangadhra municipality, was in jail since 2013 in connection with the murder of a Bharwad community member and was hacked to death a day after he was released on parole.
Since then, the situation in Dhrangadhra has been tense, an official at Surendranagar police control room said.
According to SP Meghani, the violence in Halvad sparked clashes near Dhrangadhra.
“After Halvad, clashes spread to Dhrangadhra. A mob also torched several vehicles and attacked shops at Chuli village in Surendranagar,” Meghani said.