One person was killed in police firing after communal violence broke out in the tribal-dominated Harsul town near Nashik on Tuesday.
The incident occurred after tribals, who constitute nearly 60 per cent of the town’s population, took out a morcha demanding police action against a local Muslim over the death of a youth on July 7. The body of Bhagirath Tulshiram Chowdhury, a resident of Bhondarmal — a hamlet two kilometers away from Trimbakeshwar town, was found in the well of a farmer, Rizwan Akhtar.
An autopsy had cited drowning as the cause of death. However, Chowdhury’s family members suspected foul play and wanted the police to book Akhtar for murder. The mob led by Chowdhury’s family and local tribal leaders reportedly congregated at the town square at 9 am Tuesday and started attacking Muslim establishments. Over 20 shops belonging to Muslims and an equal number of houses were attacked and looted.
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Local Muslims said they had anticipated a violence and many of them had sent their families to safer places on Monday night.
“They systematically picked out Muslim houses and shops and looted them. There had been tension in the town since yesterday and there was an inkling that riots could break out. Local Muslims had demanded police protection but it was not given,” said Mobin Shaikh, a resident of Harsul.
With the Kumbh Mela beginning in Trimbakeshwar town Tuesday, a large number of personnel from the Harsul police station, which is part of the Trimbakeshwar taluka, had been posted for security preparations there.
The force that had reached the agitation spot was also attacked by the tribals.
In the ensuing violence, Additional Superintendent of Police Prashant Mohite, Deputy Superintendent of Police Praveen Kumar Mundhe and eight other officers were injured. The mob also allegedly tried to burn down a petrol pump, after which the police opened fire.
One person, Ramdas Bundhad, was killed and another youth was injured in the firing before order was restored. The mob is reported to have cut down trees and blocked vehicles from reaching Harsul.
The local police said the town had been placed under curfew and order had been restored.