As tension in various parts of Maharashtra’s Amravati escalated, the imposition of Section 144 of the CrPC was expanded to four more towns – Morshi, Warud, Achalpur and Anjangaon Surji. The situation had intensified following protests by right-wing groups against the Muslim march held in the district a day before to condemn the communal violence in Tripura. The notification of the curfew was issued by Collector Rajesh Deshmukh and mentions the prohibition of disseminating messages and posts on social media platforms that could create communal tension among groups.
According to an official, “It will be in force from the midnight of November 14 till November 20. As per the order, spreading messages etc through social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, which could create a communal rift in the society, is prohibited. Holding a meeting or assembly of five or more people, putting up hoardings and posters that could create communal tension are prohibited.”
The police have yet arrested over 50 people in connection with the series of violent events that ensued over the weekend, including several stone-pelting instances in Amravati city and adjoining areas. The police have also alleged the involvement of BJP leaders, including former Maharashtra agriculture minister Anil Bonde, Maharashtra Legislative Council member Pravin Pote and Amravati rural party president Nivedita Chaudhari, along with a few other party members in connection with the back-to-back violence over the weekend. They are still conducting a search for Pote, who is reportedly missing from the city.
The situation was reported to be under control on Sunday while eight battalions of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) and additional number of police personnel from various districts were deployed in the district. Stating that the police marched in different sensitive areas of Amravati on Sunday evening, district guardian minister Yashomati Thakur said, “The situation is under control in Amravati as eight battalions of the SRPF and extra police force from Jalna, Nagpur, Wardha and Buldhana districts remains deployed.”
On Friday, Muslim fundamentalist organisation Raza Academy had held a massive protest that went through Kotwali to demonstrate against the anti-Muslim violence in Panisagar in Tripura on October 27. Stone pelting incidents were reported at Nanded, Malegaon and Amaravati. According to senior officials, the riots took place in Kotwali of Amravati on Saturday after the BJP along with its allied organisations such as the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) called for a bandh as a rebuttal to the march carried out by Muslim groups on Friday. Allegedly, during the protest, stones were thrown at MLC Pravin Pote’s house with one person sustaining injury, prompting former minister Anil Bonde and Pravin Pote to call for the bandh. Following this, round 6000 party members of the right-wing organisations took to the streets to execute the bandh on Saturday.
According to a report by the Indian Express, officials have confirmed that shops owned by members of the minority Muslim community were destroyed and torched during the Saturday riots. Two shops and three two-wheelers were burnt, while another shop was destroyed and the vehicle of the shop owner was burnt during the violence. The right-wing activists allegedly damaged two shrines. Police officials in the Kotwali area of Amravati claimed that they were outnumbered by the party members of BJP, Bajrang Dal, VHP and MNS.
One police official told the Indian Express, “They gathered at Rajkamal Chowk. A section of this crowd turned violent, burnt two shops, damaged some other shops, burnt vehicles. Almost all the victims are from the minority community. It appears that the violence had been planned a day in advance in retaliation for the violence on Friday by some members of the minority community.”
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut questioned why the Tripura violence is causing communal disturbance in Maharashtra. “The question arises that if violence against Hindus takes place in Bangladesh, its reactions happen in Tripura and to that reaction, riots take place in parts of Maharashtra, why no reaction when Kashmiri Pandits were killed in Kashmir, when a Colonel in Manipur along with his family were killed in a terrorist attack. Hindus are everywhere, why reactions (riots) only in Maharashtra? Is this part of some conspiracy in Tripura which is affecting the whole nation?” asked Raut.
“If the case of Tripura is right and serious, so then, why its reactions are taking place in Maharashtra, why not in other states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Haryana, etc.,” he said, adding, “If Hindus are really in danger in this country, then I would say that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat Sahib should take out a front in Delhi, we all will join and you should ask questions to the PM Modi and Amit Shah.”
Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil condemned the incidents of communal violence in the state and assured that intensified investigation will be carried out.