Aurangabad: Violent clashes between two groups have left one person dead besides injuring more than 25 persons in Aurangabad district.
The violence, said to be of a communal nature, apparently erupted over a trivial matter and raged through Friday night with several small shops and a number of vehicles, including police vans, being set ablaze by rioters.
At least 10 policemen, including an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Govardhan Kolekar, were injured in the clashes which flared up sometime after 10 p.m. on Friday, said police sources.
The deceased has been identified as one Jaganlal Bansile (62), a resident of the city’s Shahaganj area. Mr. Bansile’s shop was among those torched by the rioters.
The deceased, who was said to be an invalid, could not break out of his shop in time and succumbed to burns.
The rioters indulged in stone pelting before the police could succeed in breaking up the restive mobs by lobbing tear gas shells and deploying other riot-control measures.
The actual reason for the rioting appears to be unclear. According to sources, the Aurangabad civic body had embarked on a demolition drive of unauthorized tap connections in the city’s Moti Karanja area.
One of these taps, that belonged to a shrine, was demolished in the process, leading members of one community to destroy a tap connection belonging to the other community.
This in turn led to retaliation with members of both communities armed with sticks and other makeshift weaponry, having a street showdown in the Moti Karanja area.
“The clashes soon snowballed and spread to several other areas in Aurangabad city like Shahaganj and Chelipara. There were losses on both sides, with shops of the minority as well as Hindu communities being ravaged by rioters. However, everything is under control now,” said the acting Aurangabad Commissioner of Police Milind Bharambe on Saturday, remarking that normalcy had largely been restored across the city.
“We are yet to take stock of the injured,” he said.
Mr. Bharambe further appealed for calm and exhorted citizens not to believe in rumours or take the law into their own hands.
No full-time Police Commissioner
The city has been without a full-time Police Commissioner for the past two months.
An uneasy calm prevailed over the city as it limped back to normalcy on Saturday with Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (prohibiting an assembly of more than four persons in an area) clamped down by the police to preclude further law and order situations.
Internet services were immediately suspended following the violence.
Mr. Bharambe said police units had been brought from adjoining districts to restore order.
“The riots erupted over a banal issue. I urge the city’s residents not to place faith in rumours,” said Aurangabad Mayor Nandkumar Ghodele, on Saturday.