Taking suo motu cognisance of the clashes that broke out between two communities at the Akhbarpura area of Khambhat taluka in Anand district on Sunday afternoon, police Monday filed four separate FIRs booking over 2,000 people under charges of rioting, arson and attempt to murder.
According to the FIR, the mob armed with stones, sticks and other sharp-edged weapons had gathered at a crossroads in Akhbarpura over a rumour about stone-pelting. The members of the two communities hurled abuses at each other and the matter soon took a violent turn. It also spread from Akhbarpura to nearby localities, including Lal Darwaza, Pirajpur Bhawsarwad and Bhochbari.
The police said that despite making announcements and warning the mob to disperse, the crowd continued to clash and pelt stones at each other, including at the policemen. Over 25 houses, shops and vehicles were burnt. A total of 13 persons were injured but no major injuries were reported. A 62-year-old resident of Akhbarpura, Yusuf Sheikh died of cardiac arrest after his shop in the neighbourhood was set on fire, police said.
The FIR pertaining to the violence in Akhbarpura identified 33 people as accused, while a mob of over 1,000 unidentified accused have also been booked. The police have also rounded up 46 people so far, but the official figure of the exact number of arrests is yet to be confirmed.
All the accused have been booked under IPC sections 143 (member of an unlawful assembly), 147 (Punishment for rioting), 148 (Rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (Every member of unlawful assembly), 435 (Mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage), 436 (mischief by fire or any explosive substance causing destruction of any building), 427 (Mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupee), 332 (Whoever voluntarily causes hurt to any person being a public servant in the discharge of his duty), 186 (Whoever voluntarily obstructs any public servant in the discharge of his public functions), 337 (Whoever causes hurt to any person by doing any act so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life), 326 (Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 295 A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 504 (Intentional insult to provoke), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation).
All the 10 accused identified in the FIR of the Lal Darwaza violence were picked up by the police from the spot. One of the police constables on duty had also sustained injuries on his hand. In the third FIR eight persons from different villages were booked for rioting in Pirajpur Bhawsarwad area. In the last FIR, 44 people were named and a mob of over 1,000 people was booked for rioting and arson in Bochbari area of the town.
Meanwhile, a minority rights outfit, Alpasankhya Adhikar Manch has demanded intervention of the district administration and the police to help the affected families who have been forced to relocate owing to repeated communal clashes.
In their letter to the administration, the convener of the outfit, advocate Samshad Pathan urged, “Range IG and district police should take immediate stock of the situation and affected families should be given protection. The district collector and mamlatdar should visit the relief camps where the affected families have been sheltered and ensure that their identity cards which have been burnt down with their houses are re issued at the earliest.”
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