Several vehicles were set on fire, stones were thrown and shops were ransacked as clashes between two groups broke out in West Bengal’s Howrah amid Ram Navami celebrations today.
Visuals showed several vehicles engulfed in flames and a heavy police deployment – including riot control force – in the area.
The violence broke out when a Ram Navami procession was crossing the Kazipara locality. A number of cars, including a few police vehicles, were damaged during the violence and the security personnel had to fire tear gas shells to disperse the mob.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is on a two-day sit-in protest in Kolkata against Centre’s policies, called “rioters the enemy of the country” and said those behind today’s violence “will not be spared”.
“Those who were involved in today’s violence will not be spared. I do not support riot mongers and consider them the enemy of the country. The BJP has always targeted Howrah. The other targets for them are Park Circus and Islampur. Everybody must be alert in their localities,” she warned.
Senior BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, however, denied her charges and blamed the Trinamool government for the violence.
“The Chief Minister and the state administration are responsible for the violence,” Adhikari said.
On Monday, the BJP slammed the Trinamool Congress for announcing protests on March 30, the day of Ram Navami celebrations. Suvendhu Adhikari, the BJP’s leader in the state assembly, said those who believe in the “sanatan culture” will celebrate Ram’s birth anniversary. Instead of declaring a holiday on the day, she has announced protests after making “fabricated and false” claims, he alleged.
Earlier in the day, Mamata Banerjee urged devotees to take out processions “peacefully”.
“I want to request that those who are taking out processions for Ram Navami today, please do but do it peacefully. Celebrate peacefully and don’t try to create violence. Don’t get provoked,” Ms Banerjee said from the stage on Day 2 of the dharna organised by her party.
The Trinamool chief began her protest in front of Dr BR Ambedkar’s statue on Red Road area in the Bengal’s capital city yesterday to protest against the Centre’s alleged “stoppage” of funds to the state for MGNREGA and other schemes of the housing and road departments.
The day was overall peaceful, barring a few reports of violence from across the country. Some vehicles were damaged in Fatehpura area of Gujarat’s Vadodara city on Thursday, police said. No one was injured in the incident and the procession passed along its planned route under police protection, said Deputy Commissioner of Police, Yashpal Jaganiya.
Last evening, a police team was attacked and several of their vehicles were set on fire during a violent clash between two groups in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad last evening. An argument between two groups had snowballed into the clash, which has been renamed as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar. The incident took place in Kiradpura, which has a famous Ram temple, Police Commissioner Nikhil Gupta said.