Ahmedabad police on Wednesday said that the conspiracy behind the incidents of arson at four multiplexes in the city on Tuesday was planned in Sanand. Asked whether Karni Sena is responsible, Ahmedabad Police Commissioner A K Singh said, “Some key conspirators possibly have contact with Karni Sena.”
Forty-four people have been arrested, and have been booked under different charges of conspiracy, attempt to murder and attempt to commit culpable homicide, damaging private properties, among others, in four FIRs. Nearly 70 people have been named accused, along with a mob of over 2,000, in the FIRs. One FIR states, “Karni Sena’s leaders Prithvirajsinh Vaghela, resident of Golsheri Vadvala temple, Sanand, Surendrasinh Sisodiya, who is identified as Sanand Shakti Tractor wala, advocate Kiritsinh Solanki, Digubha Vaghela, resident of Godhavi, Mahipatsinh Chauhan of Ghatolodia and Pratipalsinh G Chauhan of Sanathal today (Tuesday) held a meeting for not letting Padmaavat release.”
The FIRs say the key accused held a meeting in Sanand and accordingly came to Himalaya Mall “armed with woods, stones and bottles filled with inflammable” to stop the film’s release. The mob went on a rampage, burnt over 60 motorcycles and damaged hundreds of them.
Advocate Kiritsinh Solanki, who is named as an accused, told The Indian Express, “I had attended the community meeting where I appealed to everyone not to take law in their hand. We are against the movie, but as an advocate I would never suggest anyone to do something like what happened last night.”
Solanki is also president of Ahmedabad Kshtriya Sabha and general secretary of Rajput Vidya Sabha. His name figures in a WhatsApp message that has a list of advocates who have “pledged” to help the accused in their legal battle. Solanki confirmed it: “Being a Rajput, I would help them.”
Police Commissioner Singh said, “The police had permitted a candlelight march. Investigation reveals that a rogue group, originating mostly from Sanand, Sanathal and other areas of Ahmedabad rural, was responsible for the violence.”
Raj Shekhwat, Gujarat head of Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena (RRKS), said, “The police can say that Karni Sena is involved, but it was a candlelight march by the Rajput community. It was not the Karni Sena, or I would have known. I feel bad about what happened yesterday.”
According to the FIR, Carnival Cinema, Himalaya Mall and other cinema halls were to release Padmaavat, against which a candle march had been organised. According to the FIR, “The accused conspired to vandalise cinema halls, beat people and on the pretext of candlelight march, held illegal assembly.”
The FIR mentions that the information is based on statements of at least six accused, who were caught from the spot: Ravindrasinh Chauhan, Ramesh Vaghela, Karansinh Rathod, Dhanabha Manek (Vadher), Virendrasinh Rathod, Ajitsinh Gol. These six, along with a mob of nearly 2,000 people, threw stones at restaurants and shops and broke glasspanes with sticks, the FIR says.
They also burnt about 30 motorcycles parked outside the mall. According to the FIR, the accused also tried to “strangulate a police constable, identified as Prahlad Laljibhai”. After this, Vastrapur police inspector opened fire in air to disperse the crowd.
According to police, during the march, stone-pelting started when the accused targeted Gulmohar Park mall and Wide Angle multiplex off S G Highway. The mob couldn’t enter the multiplexes due to police security, so they vandalised shops, they said.