Two killed in violent protests in Madhya Pradesh

July 3rd, 2008 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party

Bhopal, July 3 (IANS) Two people were killed and several injured in Indore as communal clashes erupted in many towns of Madhya Pradesh Thursday during a nationwide shutdown to protest the Jammu and Kashmir government’s decision to cancel the allotment of forest land to a Hindu shrine board. Curfew was clamped on Indore following violent clashes between groups of two communities, which led to the killing of two people, according to the police.

The curfew-bound areas include Mukeripura, Bombay Bazaar, Pandrinath and Chhatripura while section 144 CrPC - prohibiting gathering of more than four persons at a place - was imposed in Khajarana area to control the situation.

The shutdown, called by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), has also affected many other towns and cities in the state.

The situation was tense in old Bhopal where stone pelting and arson took place as pro and anti-shutdown supporters clashed, the police said.

Half a dozen vehicles were set on fire by a mob forcing the strike near Bhopal talkies. Violence erupted near old Bhopal’s bus stand area and adjacent localities when activists of the BJP, the Shiv Sena and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) forced the shopkeepers to down their shutters.

They beat up some shopkeepers and passers by.

A trader in Satna area set himself afire after a mob allegedly looted his jewellery shop, beat him with sticks and threatened him if he reported the matter to the police.

“Bajrang Dal activists in main Satna market reached the jewellery shop of Heera Soni and asked him to close the shop. When he refused, they barged into the shop, looted some jewellery and beat him up,” Narendra Soni, the victim’s younger brother, told mediapersons.

“The activists also threatened him following which my brother out of fear set himself ablaze. The police also beat up my brother so that he does not report the matter to the higher authorities,” Narendra alleged.

Heera was taken to Satna district hospital, the police said.

Clashes between people belonging to two communities also occurred in Shahjehanabad, Budhwara, Itwara and Karond in old Bhopal.

According to reports, rioting between the workers of the BJP and the VHP and some shopkeepers also took place in Jabalpur, Indore and Dhar. Several shops were damaged in Jabalpur.

Angry over the forced closure, some people threw stones at the pro-shutdown supporters from the roof tops of their houses, triggering minor communal clashes in communally sensitive old Bhopal.

The authorities later deployed personnel from the Rapid Action Force (RAF) to control the situation.

Government offices and banks functioned as usual but educational institutions were closed.

The police have been deployed in force at all sensitive places across the state and the situation was tense at several places but under control, the police said.

The Jammu and Kashmir government Tuesday formally cancelled the allotment of 40 hectares of forest land for the Amarnath board that manages the pilgrimage to the high altitude shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. The issue has been picked up the BJP and the VHP in the hope that it will find wider resonance in the rest of the country.

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