Curfew was clamped in parts of the walled city of Jaipur after one person was killed and four policemen were injured late Friday night after a traffic scuffle escalated into a full-blown conflict between police and residents of the Muslim-majority Ramganj locality. The district administration has suspended mobile Internet services for two days – from 6 am on Saturday to 11.59 pm Sunday – to check rumours from spreading. Trouble started at about 8:30 pm on Friday, when a police constable, during a routine clearing of street vendors, allegedly hit a Muslim couple – local resident Sajid and his wife – who were passing by on a bike.
“We were just passing by when the policemen stopped us. Then, a constable swung his baton and hit our bike. My husband was hit on his hand and my little daughter fell off the bike. I tried to stop the constable but he pushed me aside,” Sajid’s wife told local news channels outside the police station. The incident led to a heated verbal exchange, after which the couple reached the Ramganj police station.
“It was a minor scuffle and while the policemen were talking to the couple, a crowd gathered outside the station. They started pelting stones and engaged in vandalism and arson. Police used light force to disperse them by firing tear gas shells and shots in the air. One Mohammad Raees alias Adil was injured and taken to SMS Hospital in the city, where he passed away at about 1 am,” Police Commissioner Sanjay Agarwal told The Sunday Express, adding, “The cause of his death will be ascertained only after we have the postmortem report.”
Agarwal said four policemen were also injured and were rushed to the trauma centre of the hospital. One of them, he said, was seriously injured. “The situation is under control now. Our teams are patrolling the area and peace committee meetings are being held to restore normalcy,” he said. While police claimed they had to use force because the mob had turned unruly, Muslim organisations said police used excessive force without giving the crowd a chance to disperse.
“Police did not even wait for the crowd to disperse after the lathicharge. Eyewitnesses told us they only fired two-three tear gas shells and then started firing. Also, they could have fired in the air or aimed at the protesters’ legs. Adil died from a bullet wound on his chest,” Mohd Iqbal Siddiqi, spokesperson of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind said. Areas under the Ramganj, Manak Chowk, Subhash Chowk and Galta Gate police stations remained under curfew from 2 am late Friday night to 8 pm on Saturday, after several vehicles were set ablaze by the mob.