Two dead in communal clashes in Aurangabad

Aurangabad (Maha), May 12 (PTI) Two persons died and around fifty others, including a dozen policemen, were injured as clashes broke out between two communities in Aurangabad city in central Maharashtra last night, police said.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said this evening that the situation was now under control.

The district administration has clamped prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure banning assembly of people and 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 last 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 last 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 got a communal colour when an illegal water connection at a place of worship in the area was removed, sources added.

Speaking to reporters in Pune, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the situation in Aurangabad was under control, and stringent action would be taken against those responsible for the violence.

The violence was the fall-out of a minor incident, he said.

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 yesterday, he said, adding that the clashes erupted over the trivial issue of “parking a small vehicle”.

People should not circulate rumours on social media, he added.

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.

State Congress chief Ashok Chavan said the rioting was unfortunate, and people should foil any attempt to create a communal divide.

The former chief minister also asked why the police didn’t take any preventive action.

“Some political parties are trying to instigate communal violence for political benefit,” he said.

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 the 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.

Source: PTI

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