With the Assembly polls just a few months away, Chhattisgarh, a State otherwise known for communal peace, witnessed a flare-up on Tuesday night.
Violence broke out when a group of namazis in central Raipur’s Tajnagar area was asked not to offer prayers in front of the small temple of Hanuman. A minor scuffle broke out and soon escalated with both sides attacking each other with wooden sticks and rods, eyewitnesses told The Hindu. A few people, including two policemen, were injured, and three houses damaged.
Superintendent of Police (Raipur city) O.P. Pal said the clash was “not communal.”
A local BJP worker Vinod Tiwari told The Hindu that the residents of Tajnagar, which houses predominantly minority community and migrant workers, were reciting verses in praise of Hanuman outside the temple, when the scuffle broke out. “Members of the other community decided that they will offer namaz outside the temple, in the same place, and both sides were involved in a minor altercation, which eventually spread to the adjacent Jagannathnagar and Palinagar areas,” said Mr. Tiwari.
Residents of the other community refused to talk to newspersons.
Mr. Pal said the incident was a “minor” one and such scuffles broke out almost every year. “Two groups of kids had a brawl yesterday and eventually it flared up as police reached the area to control the situation; it is not communal in nature,” he said.
Senior police officers held a peace meeting with representatives of both sides. The situation is under control, said Mr. Pal.
However, a few hundred men associated with various Hindutva organisations later gheraoed police officers camping at the Civil Lines station in central Raipur and shouted slogans, “Prashashan hosh main aao” (police administration wake up) and “Jai Shri Ram.”
Till late Tuesday, two FIRs were registered and one person was detained.