A clash broke out between police and devotees Tuesday in Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur over immersion of the idol of goddess Kaali in the Narmada river, an officer said.
Police lobbed tear gas shells and caned rioters to bring the situation under control.
Immersion of idols in the river is banned to avoid pollution of the water body.
The incident occurred after people carrying the idol of “Mannatwali Kaali Mata” were prevented by the police from immersing it in the river at Gwarighat area, the police officer said.
After an argument over the issue, a mob attacked the police with stones and set seven motorcycles of police personnel on fire, said police officer Arjun Uikey.
“Immersing idols in the Narmada river is banned to protect the water body from pollution,” Uike said, adding that a small pond was constructed for the immersion purpose near the holy river.
According to eye-witnesses, rioters hurled stones at police who retaliated. As more rioters joined in, the police personnel present at the spot fled and took shelter in Gwarighat police station to save themselves.
Uikey said additional police personnel were rushed to the spot who lobbed tear gas shells and caned rioters.
In the meantime, Collector Chhavi Bharadwaj and Superintendent of Police Amit Singh rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.
An officer said Bharadwaj too picked up a stick to chase the rioters away.
Uikey said police later immersed the idol of the goddess into the pond.
“Seven police motorcycles were set on fire by rioters. Five vehicles of the police were also damaged in the stone pelting,” he said, adding that ten policemen were injured in the incident.
Police have arrested around 35 people for rioting and arson, he said.
The idol of Mannat Wali Mata is annually consecrated at Latkari Ke Padav area during Durga Puja in Jabalpur.
It was taken out on a truck for immersion on Monday in a procession that covered a distance of more than 20 kms before reaching Gwarighat on the banks of the Narmada river this morning.
The idol was worshipped at many places en route to Gwarighat.