Shops of Muslims burnt during BJP led bandh in Amravati: Police

According to local police, around 6,000 workers of the BJP and other allied organisations came out to enforce the closure, which is when the violence erupted.

Hyderabad: Shops owned by the Muslim community were vandalized and set on fire during a bandh called by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Amravati, Maharashtra.

The BJP called for a bandh in response to statewide protests and rallies carried out by some Muslim organisations like Raza Academy on Friday. The Muslim groups were protesting against the recent communal violence that erupted in Tripura in which at least six Mosques, dozens of houses and shops belonging to Muslims were burnt.

Amravati: Young men with their faces covered, at a street as BJP’s ‘Amravati Bandh’ turns violent, in Amravati, Saturday, November 13, 2021. (PTI Photo)

Protests against Tripura violence turn violent

As the Muslim procession was passing by Kotwari area in Amravati, stones were thrown at the house of local BJP leader Pravin Pote, breaking his window. One person was injured in the stone-pelting elsewhere. By police estimates, some 25,000 people participated in this protest.

MS Education Academy

Hindutva retaliation

According to police officials the activist from the BJP, Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena outnumbered the police personnel. Two Muslim shops and three two-wheelers parked outside one of these shops were burnt. Another shop was damaged, and the shop owner’s vehicle also burnt. Two dargahs were also damaged.

The Indian Express quoted police officials, saying, “They (Hindutva protestors) gathered at Rajkamal Chowk. A section of this crowd turned violent, burnt two shops, damaged some other shops, burnt vehicles. Almost all the victims are from the minority community. It appears that the violence had been planned a day in advance in retaliation for the violence on Friday by some members of the minority community.”

According to local police estimates, around 6,000 workers of the party and other allied organisations came out to enforce the closure, which is when the violence erupted. BJP leader Pravin Pote was seen in a video urging BJP workers to gather at Rajkamal Chowk.

Amravati: Protesters during ‘Amravati Bandh’, in Amravati, Saturday, November 13, 2021. A mob hurled stones and damaged shops at various places in Amravati city during a bandh allegedly organised by BJP prompting the police to lathicharge the protesters. (PTI Photo)

Situation under control: Police

In all, the police have registered 26 FIRs (first information reports), 15 of them for Saturday’s violence and 11 for Friday’s incidents, at various police stations across the city, and 60 people were arrested.

A senior police official in Mumbai said the force was taken by surprise by the violence. “But we are sending out a strong message that this cannot happen again,” he said. Several top police officers were dispatched here from Mumbai on Saturday as the situation threatened to spin out of control. There are likely to be more arrests.

Amravati: Policemen use tear gas to disperse protesters after ‘Amravati Bandh’ turns violent, in Amravati, Saturday, November 13, 2021. (PTI Photo)

But Sunday, the first day of curfew and internet suspension in Amravati city, passed without any communal incidents. A heavy police presence on the ground implemented the curfew strictly. The city wore a deserted look and only essential services like chemist shops were allowed to operate.

Business standstill due to curfew

As the violence resulted in an indefinite curfew, all types of business and work have come to a standstill. One of the shops burnt during the violence had been running since 1970 and belonged to a man named Shadab Khan.

The shop owner said his electronics repair business had already been hit by the COVID-19 crisis. “I had to let go of five workers,” he told The Indian Express. “Now that my shop is gone, I have suffered a loss of Rs 13 lakh and lost my life’s earnings. The mob also stole electronic items from my shop.”

While no policemen were injured on Friday, nine policemen sustained injuries in the violence on Saturday, and one police vehicle was damaged.

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