Tension gripped Jahanabad town in Fatehpur district after members of two communities clashed during a procession on Makar Sankranti Thursday afternoon. Four persons were injured. While locals claimed they heard gunshots, police officials denied reports of firing by the rioters.
Circle Officer (CO), Fatehpur city, Poornendu Singh said that the clash happened as members of the Hindu community were taking out their annual procession through the town. The ‘shobha yatra’ started around 9.30 am and, as it passed through an area dominated by the other community, some people objected to the music being played on the DJ system that was part of the procession. A heated argument led to the clash, injuring a woman. The situation, however, was soon brought under control as police overpowered the troublemakers.
The CO added that another clash took place as the procession passed through Kazi Tola locality. Some youth allegedly hurled a stone at the procession, which again triggered a confrontation between the two communities. As several people from both sides joined in, the situation turned tense, he said. Police, according to Singh, had a tough time dispersing the agitated crowd. Police also lathicharged the unruly mob.
IG (Law and Order) A Satish Ganesh said that strong reinforcements from the RAF and PAC were rushed to the affected area, while an alert was sounded in adjoining districts of Hamirpur, Kanpur and Kaushambi. Troublemakers, however, managed to torch three shops and a motorcycle on the way.
SP Fatehpur, Rajiv Malhotra said that Section 144 has been imposed and strict vigil is being maintained in the area. “People behind the incident are being identified and strict action will be taken against them,” he said. Police are scanning video footage from along the procession’s route to identify the culprits.
Incidentally, VHP leader Pravin Togadia and Minister of State (MoS) for Food Processing Industries Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti were in the town to attend a programme at the Ram Talaiya temple during the time of the incident. As the clash unfolded, Togadia was addressing a gathering at the temple, where the procession was to eventually conclude.
IG, Allahabad Zone, Brij Bhushan, who also rushed to Fatehpur along with Allahabad range DIG, said that Togadia’s programme ended peacefully and he left the spot soon after.
Talking to The Indian Express Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, who is also the BJP MP from Fatehpur, said, “The yatra is taken out annually for the last 35 years. For the last 10 years, people from adjoining districts have also started taking part in it. Today’s incident is a failure on the part of the district police and the administration for not being able to provide adequate security to the yatra, despite being aware that it passes through sensitive areas.”
The minister added that she had spoken to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and state government officials about the incident. She also claimed that two youths suffered gunshot injuries in the incident.
Meanwhile, police said that all the injured, except one, have been discharged from the district hospital after being given medical aid. A victim named Ansar, who sustained an injury near his eye, was rushed to Kanpur for treatment, IG Brij Bhushan added.