Rajasthan police have arrested 141 so far in connection with the clashes which took place late Monday night in which two communities clashed over the hoisting of a flag on Eid. The incident took place at Jalori gate in Jodhpur, which comes under the Sardarpura police station, the assembly constituency of chief minister Ashok Gehlot.
As communal tension gripped the city, a curfew was imposed in 10 police station areas of Jodhpur and mobile internet services have been suspended since Tuesday.
“We have so far arrested 141 persons in connection with the clashes that took place in Jodhpur. So far 12 FIRs have been lodged, out of which four have been lodged by the Jodhpur police and the remaining eight FIRs have been lodged by the people. Nine police personnel were injured in the clash and three are critical”, said Rajasthan DGP M L Lather.
The internet services remain suspended in Jodhpur and a curfew is imposed in ten police station areas of the city.
According to the cops, the clash took place after members of the minority community tried to hoist a flag on the statue of freedom fighter Balmukund Bissa near Jalori Gate in Jodhpur, on the eve of Eid ul Fitr. The flag was replaced by a saffron flag by the second community leading to the clashes between the two. Vandita Rana, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Jodhpur West, confirmed the incident.
“On Tuesday the clash again took place and the minority community who had returned after offering Eid prayers pelted stones and police had to use lathi charge and tear gas shells to disperse the crowd who again wanted to go to the Jalori circle and remove the saffron flag. But this time the clash was with the police, not the other community”, she added.
According to the Jodhpur Police Commissioner Navjyoti Gogoi, the situation is under control now. However, the city continues to be under the heavy deployment of police personnel.
On Tuesday night two ministers deputed by Gehlot, Rajendra Yadav and Subhash Garg along with the ACS (Home) and the ADG (Law and Order) visited the violence-hit area and a hospital, where locals and police personnel are hospitalized.
Gehlot appeals for peace, accuses BJP of targeting Rajasthan deliberately
Jodhpur is the hometown of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Gehlot, who also holds the portfolio of Home Minister, chaired a high-level meeting on Tuesday wherein he directed officials to ensure that the rule of law is followed across the state. He appealed to the public to maintain peace and cancelled the events planned for his birthday on Tuesday.
Chief Minister in a series of tweets assured the people involved in the riots irrespective of caste, colour or political party will be treated equally before the law. The chief minister also accused the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of targeting Rajasthan deliberately as the assembly polls are due in 2023.
“The clash between two groups in Jodhpur is unfortunate. I have asked the administration to maintain peace and order. There is a rich tradition of love and brotherhood in Jodhpur and I appeal to all communities to help in maintaining peace and law and order,” Gehlot tweeted.
BJP targets Gehlot for appeasement politics
The union Jal Shakti minister and the BJP’s sitting MP from Jodhpur Gajendra Singh Shekhawat slammed Gehlot and accused him of doing the politics of appeasement.
The former chief minister and BJP Vice President Vasundhara Raje also slammed Gehlot over the incident.
"On the occasion of Parshuram Jayanti, the anti-social elements have put an Islamic flag on the statue of freedom fighter Balmukund Bissa. The BJP condemns the incident. Such incidents are repeatedly happening in the Congress rule in the Rajasthan", state BJP chief Satish Poonia said in a video statement.
In a letter to the Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra, state BJP chief Satish Poonia had requested a fair investigation in the matter. “We request a fair trial in this matter and we urge to pass necessary instruction to the state government so the communal incident doesn't get repeated. At the moment it is important that peace should be established in the state. The law and order situation is worsening in the state and it has put Rajasthan in a bad light”, reads the letter Poonia wrote to the Governor.
Reacting to the communal tensions, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said it is hoped that various communities will work together and the Indian government and security forces will ensure that everyone can go about their activities, including celebrations of the festival, peacefully.