Communal violence breaks in Faizabad district, curfew imposed
Five cities in the affected, curfew imposed in Faizabad city after violence breaks during immersion of Durga idols
Virendra Nath Bhatt
Communal violence broke out simultaneously in five towns of the Faizabad district including the district headquarter Faizabad city on Wednesday 24 October evening when the procession for immersion of Durga idols in river Saryu was being taken out on the last day of Durga puja.
Rudauli, Bhadrsa, Sohawal and Harringtonganj towns have also been affected. About two dozen shops at the heart of Faizabad city were burnt and some people have also suffered injuries.
Indefinite curfew has been imposed in Faizabad city under Kotwali police station on Thursday 25 October. This action was taken after a mob torched the Ramlila pandal near the police station. The situation is now under control in all five cities in the district. Ayodhya town in Faizabad district remained peaceful.
The Ramjanmabhoomi/Babri Masjid site is located few km away from this area of Faizabad city. Interestingly, it is for the first time in the past two decades that a curfew has been imposed in Faizabad city. The last time, a curfew was imposed was on December 6, 1992, after the demolition of the Babri mosque at Ayodhya.
This is the second time in last three months that communal violence has erupted in Faizabad city. Earlier on July 24 during the month of Ramzan two groups had clashed over the possession of religious places and several vehicles and buses of the state run transport corporation were torched. Police had to resort to air firing to control the situation.
Faizabad is the ninth city in Uttar Pradesh which witnessed major communal riots during the seven months old regime of Samajwadi Party led by Akhilesh Yadav. In September the Intelligence Bureau had sounded an alert of a possible communal flare up in UP, during the festive months. Inspite of this warning, Faizabad police caught was caught napping when clashed broke out in the city on Wednesday evening. The IB had cited a general atmosphere of lawlessness as the cause for the possible communal flare up in UP.
Meanwhile, on the directions of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, principal secretary (Home) RM Srivastava and DGP AC Sharma, rushed to Faizabad on Thursday morning, to supervise the operation for restoring the law and order in the district.
The clash began in Faizabad city over the eve teasing of a girl when the idol immersion procession was passing through Chowk Bazaar, the main shopping area of the city. The youth in the procession caught hold of the eve teaser and thrashed him. In retaliation another group from a particular community allegedly started pelting stones on the procession, eyewitness claim that as a result the idol was damaged. For over next two hours the mob ran amuck. With no police or para military force around, the rioters set fire to over 40 shops in Chowk Bazaar, looted public property and torched dozens of private and police vehicles. Over two dozen persons including a sub inspector of police were injured in the clashes.
On Thursday morning, shopkeepers gathered at the Chowk Bazaar and saw their shops damaged. Soon another mob assembled and torched the Ramlila Pandal. After this incident the district administration of Faizabad imposed indefinite curfew in areas falling under the Kotwali police station which covers almost over two third of the Faizabad city. Additional forces were also rushed to the riot hit town.
“Six persons have been arrested in connection with the violence and the situation is under control in the district, and prohibitory orders have been enforced in all four towns’’, said Ramit Sharma, SSP of Faizabad. Police sources said though curfew has not been imposed in four towns, undeclared curfew like situation prevails in all four towns.
Almost simultaneously with the clashes in Faizabad city, the violence also spread to the smaller towns of Rudauli, Sohawal, and Bhadrsa and Harringtonganj. Even these clashes occurred during the idol immersion procession. Around 20 shops were torched in Bhadrsa town and a religious place was also damaged. The irate mob also torched several vehicles in the town. The idols which could not be immersed as a result of clashes were sent to Ayodhya by the district authorities. The principal secretary and DGP will submit their reports to the CM.
Akhilesh Yadav has condemned the communal violence in Faizabad. “The government will come down heavily on those out to destroy the communal harmony,” said the CM adding “the state government will give compensation for the shops burnt or looted during the riot in Faizabad”.
This year, communal tension in the state started with a clash between two communities in June at Pratapgarh after the SP government came to power on March 15. This was followed by a pro-longed communal clashes and curfew in Bareilly in the month of July- August. A major clash broke out in Kosikala town of Mathura district in June where two persons was killed. Communal tension had also gripped Lucknow, Kanpur and Allahabad after Muslim groups staged angry demonstration in three cities and attacked the statues of Buddha and Mahavir in Lucknow over the violence against the community in Myanmar and Assam. Later in September an angry mob had attacked the Massuri police station in Ghaziabad after pages torn from the Koran were found near the rail track in the Massuri town. The police had to open fire to control the riotous mob.
Virendra Nath Bhatt is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.