Updated: May 4, 2022 10:58:29 am
Curfew was imposed in 10 police station areas of Jodhpur in Rajasthan and mobile internet services were suspended Tuesday as communal tension mounted in the city, hours after two communities clashed late Monday night over the hoisting of a flag on Eid.
Jodhpur is the hometown of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot who appealed to the public to maintain peace and chaired a high-level meeting after cancelling events planned for his birthday Tuesday.
Police said 97 people have been arrested so far in connection with the clashes.
The BJP, including Union Jal Shakti Minister and Jodhpur MP Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, slammed Gehlot and said the violence was the result of his “politics of appeasement”.
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Police said the immediate trigger for the clash had to do with the hoisting of a flag on Eid on the statue of freedom fighter Balmukund Bissa near Jalori Gate in Jodhpur. Curfew was imposed after fresh clashes took place between police and members of the Muslim community Tuesday morning.
Vandita Rana, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Jodhpur West, said: “Preliminary investigation suggests that the reason for the escalation of tensions resulted from one community hoisting an Eid flag over the statue of a freedom fighter.”
Officials said police had to resort to lathi charge and fire tear gas shells to disperse the crowd that resorted to stone pelting on Monday night and Tuesday morning. The spot where the violence took place comes under the jurisdiction of the Sardarpura police station. Sardarpura is the Assembly constituency of Gehlot.
On Tuesday morning, fresh clashes erupted between police and members of the Muslim community, officials said.
“There was a clash between police and people who had offered namaaz on Tuesday morning. The people who had come to offer namaz started sloganeering and forcefully tried to go near the statue and remove a saffron flag that was put there after last night’s clashes. Police had to use force to disperse (the crowd). The clash this morning was with police, not the other community,” DCP Rana said.
Additional Director General (Law and Order) Hawa Singh Ghumaria said with the area being adjacent to the Eidgah and the possibility of a large number of people offering namaaz in the area on Eid, the Police Commissioner intervened and did not let the crowd come near the place.
“But while dispersing, tension escalated and there was stone pelting. There were flags of Lord Parashuram near the area where namaz is offered. There was a dispute about removing flags. The local Muslim community puts up a flag on the occasion of Eid,” Ghumaria said.
Chief Minister Gehlot chaired a high-level meeting at his office. Later, MoS Home Rajendra Singh Yadav and Minister in-charge Jodhpur Subhash Garg were sent to Jodhpur along with other officials including the ACS (Home) and ADGP (Law and Order).
“The tension resulting from a clash between two groups in Jodhpur’s Jalori Gate is unfortunate. I have instructed the administration to maintain peace and order at any cost. Respecting the tradition of love and brotherhood in Jodhpur, Marwar, I appeal to all sides to help in maintaining peace and law and order,” Gehlot said in a Twitter post.
जोधपुर, मारवाड़ की प्रेम एवं भाईचारे की परंपरा का सम्मान करते हुए मैं सभी पक्षों से मार्मिक अपील करता हूं कि शांति बनाए रखें एवं कानून-व्यवस्था बनाने में सहयोग करें।
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) May 3, 2022
Rajasthan: Ruckus in Jodhpur’s Jalori Gate area pic.twitter.com/6IGhmVmmPX
— ANI MP/CG/Rajasthan (@ANI_MP_CG_RJ) May 3, 2022
While addressing the high-level meeting at his office, the CM said criminals must not be spared, irrespective of religion, caste or class. He said people of all religions have been celebrating all festivals with love and brotherhood in Rajasthan and Jodhpur is known for its social affinity. These traditions must continue. He appealed to the general public to maintain peace.
The Opposition BJP slammed the Congress government over the clashes.
(PTI adds: Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat accused the ruling Congress of “doing the politics of appeasement” and threatened that he, along with other leaders of the party, would sit on a dharna at Jalori Gate circle if the rioters were not arrested.
“Chief Minister (Gehlot) blames RSS and BJP for provoking riots, but were there any RSS or BJP workers today? What happened today during namaz that they came out and created ruckus in the city? They entered houses, thrashed people, pelted stones at houses and shops, damaged vehicles,” he told reporters. He said the police took no serious action after the tension last night and as a result, riots took place. “The kind of ‘tandav’ that happened today has never happened in Jodhpur. This is not the tradition in Jodhpur,” he said.)
BJP state president Satish Poonia said: “It is concerning that due to politics of appeasement by the Ashok Gehlot government, the law and order system in the state has broken down. A day before Eid, a saffron flag from the statue of freedom fighter Balmukund Bissa was removed and an Islamic flag was hoisted. Public property was damaged to spread violence and clashes erupted once again today. Be it the recent violence in Karauli or this incident in Jodhpur, it has been proved that such incidents are perpetrated under the protection of the government.”
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