Communal tensions on Eid in Jodhpur; mobile internet services suspended, curfew imposed
Jodhpur/Jaipur: Communal tensions gripped Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's hometown Jodhpur hours before Eid on Tuesday, prompting the authorities to suspend mobile internet services and impose a curfew in 10 police stations areas of the city.
The chief minister has appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony.
The Jodhpur deputy commissioner of police issued orders imposing a curfew till May 4 midnight besides suspending mobile internet services to check the spread of rumours.
Tensions broke out past midnight over putting up of Islamic flags on the Jalori gate circle, which led to stone pelting in which five policemen were injured.
The situation was brought under control in the early hours on Tuesday with heavy deployment of police but tensions escalated again in the morning after prayers at an Eidgah.
Shops, vehicles and houses were pelted with stones near the Jalori gate area.
Members of the minority community were installing Eid flags and they put up a flag on a roundabout alongside the statue of freedom fighter Balmukund Bissa.
This led to a confrontation as members of the other community alleged that a saffron flag, which they had put up there ahead of Parshuram Jayanti, had gone missing.
The issue snowballed into stone-pelting and clashes, officials said.
Police rushed to the spot to control the situation during which five policemen were injured, the police control room said.
Police had to lob tear gas shells to disperse the mob.
Mobile internet services were suspended in the area to check the spread of rumours, the officials said.
Gehlot in a tweet urged people to maintain peace and called the incident unfortunate.
"While respecting the tradition of love and brotherhood of Jodhpur, Marwar, I make a touching appeal to all parties to maintain peace and cooperate in restoring law and order," he said.
The chief minister said instructions had been issued to the administration to maintain peace and order.
He said leaders of all political parties should ask their workers to maintain peace and they all should remain united.
Gehlot also chaired a high-level meeting at the Chief Minister's office to review the situation. He asked ministers Rajendra Yadav and Subhash Garg, and two officers to go to Jodhpur by helicopter.
The CM directed officials to take stern action against those responsible for it.
A criminal, irrespective of his religion, caste or class, must not be spared, the CM told officials.
On the other hand, the BJP targeted the state government over law and order.
Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat claimed that police are working under pressure.
Shekhawat threatened that he, along with other party leaders, will sit on a dharna at the Jalori gate circle if the rioters are not arrested.
"One man was stabbed and is struggling for life in hospital. The miscreants also insulted women and broke the leg of a girl. They also tried to damage a temple in the Sunaro Ka Baas area," he alleged.
BJP MLA Suryakanta Vyas in Jodhpur raised an objection to the installation of a Eid flag alongside the freedom fighter's statue.
She had gone to the spot last night as soon as the incident occurred.
"They did (put up the flag) at (the statue of) Bissa ji and we have a strong objection to this. We will not forget this," Vyas said.
BJP state president Satish Poonia said, "Putting up an Islamic flag on the statue of freedom fighter Balmukund Bissa by anti-social elements and removing saffron flags put up on Parshuram Jayanti is condemnable."
He appealed to people to maintain peace and demanded that the state government establish the "rule of law".
"A saffron flag was replaced with an Islamic flag at the statue of Bissaji last night and sabotage happened today. It is proven from the incident of Karauli that such incidents are happening under the patronage of the state government," Poonia said in a video statement.
He said such incidents against the majority community are alarming.
It is the second such incidents in Rajasthan after the Karauli violence, which erupted on April 2 when some people pelted with stones a bike rally being taken out by Hindu outfits on the occasion of Nav Samvatsar.
The rally was passing through a Muslim-dominated area when the stone pelting occurred, which led to arson.