After the residents of a chawl clashed with the students of a hostel at Ambawadi in Ahmedabad late on Monday, Ellisbridge police lodged three FIRs on Tuesday, including one under Dalit atrocity Act. Police said nearly a dozen vehicles were burnt and a firefighting tender was damaged during the clashes which erupted late on Monday, following a brawl between a family staying in the chawl and some hostel occupants. The slum-dwellers, most of whom are Dalits, have surrounded the Ellisbridge police station and are demanding that the hostel be shifted from the locality.
On Tuesday, while the first FIR was filed by students, police filed the second FIR. The third FIR was lodged by a 37-year-old Dalit woman, who alleged that she was molested by the students living at the hostel, and the police personnel. In the case, filed under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act , the woman has alleged that a group of hostel inmates barged into her house and thrashed her husband and son and molested her. Deputy Commissioner of Police, zone-VII, R J Pargi said, “Counter FIRs have been filed by both the group. We have also filed a third FIR against stone-pelters who targeted the police team. We are probing the matter to find out the truth.”
The clash between the residents of a private trust-run boys hostel, Nayanaba Jadeja IAS Bhawan, meant for lodging and boarding of IAS and IPS aspirants, and the local residents of Mehnatpura na Chhapra in Ahmedabad’s Bhudarpur area of Ambawadi, was reported around 10.30 pm on Monday. Police said it went on for almost four hours. At least a dozen motorbikes were torched and the hostel was vandalised during the clash. The multi-storey hostel, which has about 70 students, was vacated by them soon after the clash. The hostel is being run by a Rajput community trust.
The police had to lob 19 teargas shells and two teargas grenades, followed by lathicharge, to disperse the mob. Police said that the clash erupted after a man, who was allegedly drunk, entered the hostel. His wife and daughter came looking for him inside the hostel premises. Police claimed that there was a verbal fight between the wife and the husband.
“Hearing the noise, the locals also rushed inside the campus and they started fighting with the students. The residents broke the glass windows of the hostel, following which a scuffle broke out. The police were informed and when they arrived, the mob started pelting stones. Several policemen were also injured in the incident,” said a police officer.
The mob also attacked fire tenders and firemen, who reached the spot on a fire emergency call after two wheelers were set on fire, and chased them away. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) chief fire officer M F Dastur said, “While one fire tender was stoned and damaged, a fireman was also injured. The mob also took away the uniform of a fireman who had removed it to avoid identification in order to save himself from the mob when it started attacking firemen. About 15 motorbikes have been torched.”
The local residents claimed that there were complaints about the boys’ behaviour earlier too. “The residents of Mehnatpura na Chhapra had issues with the hostel students but since there was no formal complaint, no one acted upon it. The slum residents would say that the inmates would drink and tease the girls passing by. Yesterday, a student beat up a ten-year-old boy from the slum who complained to his father who was allegedly drunk. The students also slapped the father who went to the hostel to seek an explanation. This led to a clash between the slum-dwellers and students,” said Tulsi Dabhi, former Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS) chairman, who runs his office in Ambawadi near the hostel. According to police, the chawl residents have claimed that the boys of the hostel keep teasing the girls and often make lewd comments.
The students, on the other hand, claimed that they were “instigated” by slum-dwellers. “The hostel authorities have the footage of CCTV cameras installed on the premises which will prove what happened,” said one of the students from Rajkot. Chandubhai Rathod, a resident of the slum, alleged, “The boys would tease girls and create a ruckus every other day. So, the hostel should be shifted from here.”