On May 3, fresh clashes took place in Jodhpur following communal violence on Monday. The clash took place between Jodhpur Police and members of the Muslim community after Eid prayers.
The mob vandalized vehicles parked in the market and residential areas. Some police vehicles were also damaged. DGP ML Lathar said, “After Eid namaz’s offering, some youngsters attempted to disturb the peace again. We used mild force to disperse them.”
He added that some community people had a scuffle with the Police after returning from Eid prayers. They vandalized vehicles parked on the road. The Police used a lathi-charge to disperse the crowd.
Speaking to the media, the Police said the situation is under control. “We are holding a flag march. I am sure we will be able to maintain peace in the area. I request everyone to stay home and celebrate the festival.”
What happened at Jhalori Chowk in Jodhpur?
On May 2, communal tension erupted in Jodhpur Rajasthan after Bhagwa (saffron) flag was replaced with an Islamic flag on the statue of Freedom Fighter Balmukund Bissa at the Jalori Gate intersection. The Muslim mob also pasted tape on the face of the statue. The Police used batons and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Internet services have been suspended in the area.
As per reports, during the three-day Parshuram Jayanti Festival, Hindu groups hoisted saffron flags on the Jalori Gate Square. Some members of the Muslim community objected to it, after which the administration requested the Hindu community to remove the flags. The community obliged the request and removed all but one flag.
Later at around 11 PM, members of the Muslim community climbed on the statue of the freedom fighter Balmukund Bissa and removed the saffron flag. They covered the face of the statue with tape and hoisted an Islamic flag. Relatives of the freedom fighter came to know about the incident, and they reached the intersection. They requested the members of the minority community to take down the Islamic flag as it was disrespectful. In retaliation, the minority community allegedly attacked the members of the Hindu community and injured them.
During the scuffle between the communities, a police post nearby was also vandalized. The Police informed the control room and sought additional force. DCP East and DCP West reached the spot, but by then, the information about the scuffle had spread like wildfire across the city. People from both communities reached the spot, and Police used barricades to stop them.
Uday Mandir police Station in-charge Amit Sihag issued orders for a lathi charge in which at least seven journalists were injured. Reports suggest that Sihag claimed he got orders from higher officials from Jaipur for the same, but apparently, no such orders were issued by the higher officials.
After learning about the incident, Mayor Jodhpur West Vanita Seth (BJP), Sursnagar MLA Suryakanta Vyas, members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other Hindu organizations rushed to the spot. Mayor Seth and MLA Vyas sat in protest and demanded action against guilty police officers. The administration has requested the members of the Muslim community to offer Namaz at home.
‘They hoisted Islamic flag’
Speaking to OpIndia, Jodhpur West Mayor Vanita Seth said, “At around 11:30 PM, the members of the Muslim community were hoisting flags for Eid at Jalori intersection. Earlier, there were Saffron flags hoisted at the place to celebrate Parshuram Jayanti. In the afternoon, the Police approached the Hindus and requested them to remove the flags in light of Eid. The members of the Hindu community removed the flags and left one at the statue of Freedom Fighter Balmukund Bissa Ji.”
She added, “In the night, the members of the Muslim community pasted tape on the face of the statue. They tried to hoist an Islamic flag there. The members of the Hindu community objected and asked them not to do that. They started shouting slogans in favour of Pakistan and Allah Hu Akbar.”
Seth said the members of the Hindu community were angry with the situation. She said, “The members of the Hindu community got irked and urged them not to raise such slogans. They said the saffron flags were removed peacefully and asked them not to create any problems. They tried to push the members of the Muslim community away from the statue. At that time, there were around 15 members of the Muslim community standing close to the intersection who started pelting stones at the Hindus.”
‘Muslims pelted stones but Police blamed Hindus’
She said though the stone-pelting was started by the Muslims, Police blamed Hindus for the same. “The Police are blaming us for stone-pelting. They were the ones who started pelting stones. They forget that we are not here to get beaten up by them. A Bhajan Sandhya was happening nearby. Those who were attending the event rushed to the spot,” she added.
Seth added, “A large crowd comprising of 150-200 people came from the Eidgah area. They had stones and sticks in their hands. Instead of taking action against them, Inspector Amit Sihag ordered a Lathi Charge on the members of the Hindu community, including some journalists. At least seven of them got injured.”
Seth was informed of the incident by District President BJP. She said, “I received a call around 1 AM from District President (BJP) who informed me about the incident. As there were barricades in place, they were unable to reach the spot. I live nearby, so they called me. A journalist came to pick me up, and I rushed to the spot. When I reached there, the situation was tense. There are Hindu families that live near Eidgah. I approached the Police to get information about their safety.”
‘Are we the only ones responsible for maintaining peace?’
She also blamed Congress district president Salim Khan for the incident. She said, “He was standing near the hospital with 200 men. Instead of questioning him, we are being targeted. They are suggesting we maintain peace. Are we the only ones responsible for maintaining peace? Why does no one question them (Congres)? The stone-pelting started after they came to the spot.”
She added, “When I tried to approach the Police that were controlling the crowd, stone-pelting restarted from their side. Gaurav Jain of BJYM took me back, saying I might get hit.” She further said Police alleged Hindus were drunk and ordered a lathi charge in which the mayor got hit. “After I got hit, the situation got tense. I calmed them down and asked them not to get provoked. The lady ACP standing there said she did not recognize me. Even if she could not recognize me, how can they order lathi-charge when there was a woman standing in the crowd.”
“When I objected, she said, ‘I would stay here for five years. Do whatever you want to do’. MLA Suryankanta Ji, members of VHP and other Hindu organizations, reached the spot soon,” Seth said. When asked if any complaint had been filed, she said, “So far, we have not filed any complaint because of the festivals. However, we are not going to let them do Namaz at the Jhalori Chowk. If they do, the administration will be responsible for whatever happens next.”
‘CM Gehlot failed to maintain communal peace in his own constituency’
Speaking to OpIndia, Rajendra Rathore, Deputy Leader of Opposition, Rajasthan, said, “Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Congress party keep blaming BJP for creating communal disharmony. However, CM failed to maintain peace in his own constituency. The Bhagwa flags were removed in the presence of the Police. The Police and stone-pelters clashed twice yesterday night while the Police were trying to control them. It is disappointing that not even a single arrest was made by the Police.”