2 killed in Maha group clashes

100 shops torched, Section 144 imposed, around 50 hurt, internet services blocked

Aurangabad : Two persons died and around 50 others, including a dozen policemen, were injured as clashes broke out between two communities in Aurangabad city in central Maharashtra on Friday night, police said.

Minister of State for Home Deepak Kesarkar said that the violence erupted late on Friday following a local issue which angered people in some areas. “Due to rumours which circulated like wildfire on social media, it quickly flared up and spread,” Kesarkar said. In the final tally, he said two persons have lost their lives. “Three Assistant Commissioners of Police and around 10 policemen, besides more than 30 civilians have also been injured. One ACP’s condition is serious and he will be operated on later,” Kesarkar added.

CM Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday evening said that the situation was under control. The district administration has clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure banning assembly of people and also suspended Internet services, said a senior police official. One of the deceased was a 17-year-old youth who allegedly died in

police firing, while the other was a 65-year-old man who was trapped in his house when an adjoining shop was set on fire by rioters, the official said.

The rioting started in Moti Karanja area around 10 pm on Friday night and spread to Gandhi Nagar, Raja Bazaar, Shah Ganj and Sarafa areas, forcing police to fire in the air and lob teargas shells, the official added. Among those injured were seven women and a dozen policemen, including an assistant commissioner of police. Rioters set fire to around 100 shops and 80 vehicles, the official said, adding that 37 persons have been arrested for rioting and arson since Friday night. According to local sources, tension was brewing in Moti Karanja area for the last few days as the municipal corporation was carrying out a drive against illegal water connections. It gained communal colour when an illegal water connection at a place of worship in the area was removed, sources added. Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil termed the loss of two lives as “very unfortunate”. There was riot-like situation from 10-11 pm on Friday, he said, adding that the clashes erupted over an issue of “parking a small vehicle”. Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde alleged that the violence reflected a failure of the state intelligence machinery, and demanded a judicial probe into the incident. Appealing for peace, the NCP leader asked police to take local people in confidence while handling the tense situation. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil demanded that chief minister Fadnavis, who holds the home portfolio, should quit on moral grounds. “This is a big failure of state government. Police failed to bring the situation under control. Fadnavis should quit on moral grounds,” said the Congress leader. Incidents in Aurangabad were similar to what happened at Bhima Koregaon (where anti-Dalit violence broke out in January), Vikhe-Patil said. “Bhima Koregaon violence was state- sponsored. In Aurangabad, had police handled the situation well, it would not have escalated. The city police commissioner’s post is vacant,” he said. Aurangabad police commissioner Yashasvi Yadav was sent on compulsory leave in March this year due to his alleged failure to handle a riot-like situation in the city over the garbage disposal issue.


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