Protests over the removal of an idol by the district administration from government pastureland led to fresh tension between two communities in Rajsamand on Tuesday, officials said. The incident comes a fortnight after a Muslim labourer was hacked to death in the district by a 36-year-old man who filmed the murder with the help of his minor nephew.
“An idol of Hanuman was installed on government pastureland in Bagpura village 3-4 days ago. We removed the idol on Monday night, which led to protests by locals, with a crowd starting to assemble at the spot,” said Rajsamand district collector P C Berwal. He said the protesters believed that members of another community were responsible for removal of the idol by the district administration. “The protesters submitted a memorandum to me. We told them that if they wanted a temple to be constructed on the land, they have to apply through the appropriate legal procedure,” said Berwal. He added that a crowd of around 2,000 chanted slogans and led a procession through the town, resulting in closure of the market.
“The land is owned by the government and members of another community occasionally go there to offer namaaz as they have a no-objection certificate issued by the local panchayat samiti. After the idol was installed, they submitted a memorandum to me objecting to the development,” said Berwal. According to the police, the crowd was dispersed but the situation turned violent towards the evening.
“After the crowd was dispersed, the protesters went to the village and there was stone-pelting between two communities. We arrested around four people,” Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, N R K Reddy told The Indian Express. A car was also set on fire and the mob tried to burn a shop, but the police thwarted their efforts, he said. “The situation is under control now. We have deployed extra police to maintain law and order. Two companies of Rajasthan Armed Constabulary have been sent to Rajsamand from Udaipur,” said Reddy.