A group of around 3,000 people on Tuesday took out a rally along with swords, lathis and other weapons in violation of curfew imposed by authorities and attacked homes and vehicles owned by Muslims. More than a dozen civilians and police personnel were injured during the rally organised by Hindu extremist organisations such as Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), The Indian Express (TIE) reported.
The ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogan was also raised by the assailants. Police used force against them to bring the situation under control by Tuesday evening.
Shoaib Akhtar, the 54-year-old ‘hafiz’ of a nearby mosque, was quoted by TIE as saying “I was pulled off my vehicle and beaten. Only when I started to bleed profusely did they leave me. The police were present but were unable to do much. They were just waving their batons and trying to shoo away the armed men.”
Series of events
On Sunday, there were clashes between two groups from two communities over the removal of green and saffron flags near Lohara Naka Chowk Kawardha, the headquarters of Kabirdham district located around 126 km from state capital Raipur.
“There was an argument between both the sides to put the flags of Navratri and Eid Miladun, then some Hindu people burnt the Islamic flags, abused Muslims and began rioting,” Noushad, a local from Lohara Naka Chowk told Maktoob Media.
Mahant Kashyap, who lives in the same area was quoted by Indian Express as saying that a local history-sheeter named Durgesh Dewangan got into an altercation with some Muslim men, who beat him up.
Large gatherings were banned after the tension on Sunday. But right-wing organisations called a protest rally on Tuesday, which turned violent as soon as it entered Muslim majority areas.
The rally was supported by leaders from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including former MLA Abhishek Singh, who is the son of former chief minister Raman Singh.
The police filed multiple First Information Reports (FIRs) based on complaints.
Warning about fake videos being circulated to incite more violence, senior police officer Vivekanand Sinha said, “We have arrested 65 accused of rioting on Tuesday. We are also identifying more accused based on CCTV footage.”