Updated: January 19, 2021 1:43:19 am
Three FIRs were lodged on Monday after a migrant worker from Jharkhand was allegedly stabbed to death, while several others, including four policemen, were injured in violent clashes during a procession taken out by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Sunday to collect funds for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
The “rath yatra” held in Kidana village of Kutch district did not have required permission, police said. Three FIRs, including one by sub-inspector GB Majirana who was injured, were lodged at the B division police station in Gandhidham.
The FIR by him states that “loud religious slogans were raised as the rath passed a mosque that provoked another community”, leading to stonepelting, arson and violent attacks with swords and sticks. Forty persons were arrested on charges of murder, rioting, arson, conspiracy and violation of section 188 of IPC (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) among others, in all the three cases.
According to the Superintendent of Police (Kutch east) Mayur Patil, “The VHP had permission to take out the rath yatra on Monday but they did it a day early.”
Sub-inspector Majirana states in his FIR that he got a call from the police station officer (PSO) Vishnubhai Madhabhai on Sunday to go for bandobast as “VHP leaders would be taking out a sampark yatra for collecting funds for the grand Ram temple by the Shree Ram Janmabhoomi Tirth Kshetra”, following which he went to the Kidana village along with six other policemen when the rath arrived around 6.15 pm.
According to Majirana’s FIR, “The violence started after those leading the rath started shouting religious slogans loudly at Kidana Masjid Chowk, provoking the other community.”
The FIR states that Majirana was trailing the rath, and when the clash broke out, police tried to pacify both the groups. “But they did not oblige and sensing that the situation could get worse, we requested our police inspector SS Desai on phone at 6.30 pm to come to the spot with reinforcements,” the FIR states.
“While we were trying to maintain law and order, stones were hurled from nearby houses of the other group. As stone-pelting intensified, a mob of around 200 to 300 rushed towards the rath, wielding weapons like swords, scythes and knives,” the FIR adds. The SI said that subsequently, people accompanying the rath also resorted to stone-pelting.
In the violence, migrant worker Arjun Manki Sovaiya (30), a native of West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, died of stab wounds. He was riding an autorickshaw driven by Nurmamad Chavda, who has lodged a separate FIR. Sovaiya’s body was found near a gaushala in Kidana village hours after the clash .
Police said he was living in a building near the crematorium in Kidana. “After postmortem, doctors said that prima facie, he died due to injuries caused by sharp-edged weapons,” Patil told The Indian Express.
Asked why the ‘B’ Division police station sent a team of seven policemen, including a SI, an assistant sub-inspector and five constables for “bandobast” of rathyatra if the rally was taken out without due permission, Patil said, “That is under investigation. We shall do the needful in this matter.”
According to Chavda’s FIR, Sovaiya was on way home in Kidana from Adipur in his autorickshaw when he was caught in the violence. Chavda, a resident of Kidana village, told police that while he was ferrying five passengers—three men and two women—to Kidana at around 7.30 pm, when he saw a mob near Ahir Samajvadi in Kidana village.
“Before I could comprehend anything, around 40 of them attacked my rickshaw with sticks and knives… passengers riding my rickshaw ran helter-skelter. The assailants targeted me also… I managed to escape and ran towards my village chowk,” the FIR quotes the 30-year-old autorickshaw driver as saying.
After the migrant labourer’s body was shifted to Rambaug Hospital in Gandhidham where Chavda was also admitted for injuries caused by knife and sticks. Police said that Chavda identified Sovaiya as one of the five passengers who was sitting beside him in his autorickshaw.
Police lobbed teargas shells to disperse the rioters. However, the violence left Majirana and thee other policemen injured. Five police vehicles and 13 private vehicles were also vandalised during the violence, police said.
On the basis of auto-rickshaw driver’s complaint, police have booked unidentified person from the mob of around 40 to 50 for murder, voluntarily causing hurt, rioting, etc. On the basis of PSI Majirana’s complaint, ‘B’ Division police have booked a mob of around 200 people for rioting, preventing public servants from discharging their duty, damaging public property, etc.
Inspector general of police (Border Range) JR Mothaliya said that Chavda’s was one of the two autorickshaws that was set ablaze during the violence.
The third FIR was lodged by Vipul Jaru, a resident of Kidana, who had joined the rath yatra in his village. He alleged in his complaint that a mob of around 200 people of the other community hatched a conspiracy to not allow the rath to pass through their area and resorted to stone-pelting after blocking the rath’s path and vandalised vehicles.
Jaru also said that the assailants also looted the donation amount kept in the rath and that he was injured in the violence along with two others. Jaru named five persons and a mob of 200 as accused and police have booked them for criminal conspiracy, rioting, robbery, etc.
“The situation is under control now. Violence lasted only for about 30 minutes last evening (Sunday). We have deployed one company of SRP and have rounded up around 40 people from both the groups,” Patil said.
“Today, VHP leaders made a representation asking innocent should not be arrested in the case and we have told them that due process will be followed,” he added.
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