Violent clashes erupt after communal tension in Ranchi
Ranchi: Ranchi on
Saturday seemed to walk to the brink before having second thoughts – a bandh
declared by the VHP after communal violence in the Lower Hinoo locality on
Friday night saw citywide violence that threatened to spiral out of control
before being reined in by massive police presence.
A yet-to-be-named youth
and the camera-person of a news channel were the only two injured admitted to
hospitals, with the former receiving a suspected bullet injury and the latter
the victim of stone-pelting. Police spokesperson and ADG (Operations) SN
Pradhan said 65 people have been detained. Prohibitory orders have been issued
for the city.
The police did not have
to resort to anything beyond, in the words of Ranchi Zone DIG Arun Kumar Singh,
“mild lathicharging” to disperse the mobs at any point, which raises the
question as to how such widespread destruction of public property including the
shattering of the windshield of Ranchi SP’s car, was allowed to take place.
Even Hardik Patel, the
youngster campaigning for Patidar reservation in Gujarat, was not spared – in
the state to attend a meeting of members of the Kurmi caste, his convoy was pelted
with stones in the Hatia area of the city. Roshan Mahato, who was in one of the
cars, said that the last car in the convoy was affected and that no one was
Trouble that snowballed
into Saturday’s near-riot began in the Lower Hinoo locality on Friday night.
When power was restored after an outage at 10 pm, local residents noticed an
animal’s hide had been placed outside the perimeter wall of a Kali Temple.
overnight and as a result, a van of the Ranchi Municipal Corporation and a shop
selling chicken were set on fire – according to a police statement, by the
The police statement
said that trouble began on Saturday at 10 am when, “….about 150 people
belonging to the Bajrang Dal and other Hindu organisations took out a procession
and at the Ratan Talkies Junction, threw objects at the Etra Masjid, abusing.”
The Muslims blocked the road in protest, “….and this went on till one in the
Morning saw tyres being
set on fire in the city’s prominent spots – Birsa Chowk, HEC, Main Road, Hinoo
among them. Youngsters went around on bikes shouting “Jai Shri Ram!” and
threatening shopkeepers into downing shutters. However, there were no weapons
At about 11.30 am at
Birsa Chowk, two individuals were negotiating with policemen about maintaining
peace. Later, one of them said, “What about the temple?” and left on bikes.
About half an hour later, the men were spotted again at Hinoo, near a temple,
leading the mob that had a standoff with a police team led by DIG Singh and SP
Jaya Roy. “It needed only mild lathicharging to disperse them. The situation is
under control,” Singh said later.
CM Raghubar Das went
around the city accompanied by DGP DK Pandey and interacted with people at
various locations. A statement from the government said that the CM visited
Doranda, Hinoo, Main Road and Firayalal Chowk.
services were not suspended in the city, though there were rumours that youth
were being mobilised over social media platforms, ADG Pradhan said no such
instance had yet been unearthed. There were unverified instances of looting
from various shops.
A senior police officer
admitted that despite being prepared to control the overnight flare-up by
deploying two companies each of the CRPF and STF in the Doranda area, police
did not expect violence to pop up in other parts of the city. As a result,
there was a delay in mobilising personnel. However, once they were in place,
the mobs were no match even for mild lathicharging. The last charge took place
at 2.30 pm, near Tupudana.
ADG Pradhan said that
apart from 200 extra constables, three companies of the CRPF, one of the SSB
and two of the state police’s Special Task Force were mobilised.
Police are not ruling
out an organised nature to the violence. “The way they were set up, it was as
if they wanted to control every major junction,” said a police officer who
supervised the law and order arrangements of the day. One community was lauded
for its restraint.
“We did not see
large-scale rioting because the minority community did not respond to the
provocation and take to the streets,” said the officer. “I was myself
lathicharging and the boys were pleading while being beaten, saying, ‘Please
let us do something. You don’t let us do anything’,” added the officer.
A peace meeting was
called at the Doranda Police Station, under which Lower Hinoo falls, at five in
the evening. It began acrimoniously, with leaders of various communities
accusing each other, but settled into an earnest discussion of the way forward.