Jharkhand’s Lohardaga district administration on Thursday imposed curfew in the city following incidents of rioting, arson, loot and violent clashes, when a group of people allegedly pelted stones on a procession taken out by right wing groups in support of the recently enacted Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
“Curfew has been imposed in the city to bring the law and order situation under control. Still many parts are disturbed and forces are being deployed to control miscreants,” Lohardaga sub-divisional officer Jyoti Jha said.
According to the police, nearly 50 people, including some police personnel, were injured during the violent clashes in Lohardaga, about 70 kilometres north of Ranchi. Twenty-eight injured people have been admitted in Sadar hospital.
Stray incidents of violence continued late in the evening, police said.
Lohardaga is a town of around 80,000. Pelting started on the main road, an elongated 2-kilometre stretch in the middle of the town. Though the Lohardaga assembly seat is reserved for scheduled tribes, the town has a sizeable Muslim population, around 25,000, in areas, including Amla Toli, Durga Bari chowk, Thana toil, Azad Basti, Tipu Sultan Chowk, Taizi Nagar, Star Colony and Somwar Bazar.
Deputy inspector general (Ranchi range), Amol Homkar, said, the situation is ‘tense but under control’.
“Additional forces from different districts have been deployed in the area and patrolling has been intensified. Exact amount of damages of property has not been assessed till now,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), supported by the BJP and other right wing groups, took out a procession comprising thousands of participants, including women in support of the CCA. Stones were pelted on the procession when it was passing through the Somwar Bazar area in the Muslim-dominated Amla Toli locality.
Naren Raj, a member of BJP youth wing, who was part of the organising committee, said all permissions were taken from the administration for the procession. “It was completely peaceful under the police watch,” he said.
According to one of the injured Sanjay Barman, stones were pelted from the rooftops of houses when a group of women in the procession was passing through the area.
“It suddenly created chaos and people started running to save themselves. Commotions spread out soon in other localities and some armed groups descended on the roads to vandalise vehicles and shops,” Barman said.
Petrol bombs were, reportedly, hurled on many houses and shops. Hooligans entered three private residences resorting to vandalism and looting. The entire 2-km stretch of Lohardaga’s main road from Amla Toli to Rajendra Bhawan was found littered with stones, said a police officer, who was not willing to be quoted as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Reacting to the incident, Congress’ state president and Lohardaga MLA Rameshwar Oraon said, “All this is happening due to the BJP’s wrong policy. They are adding further fuel to the issue. They have already enacted the CAA, then why to take out a procession in support of it.”
“Forces, including the CRPF, have been sent to control the situation,” Oraon, also a former IPS officer, said.
However, BJP’s state general secretary, Deepak Prakash said, “The miscreants are enjoying support of the ruling political parties. Stones were pelted from the Congress office. The incident is an example of poor law and order situation. In a democracy, everyone has the right to take out a peaceful demonstration. We demand the immediate arrest of rioters.”
According to police officials, around 40 motorbikes, three trucks, a dozen shops and two houses were set on fire. “The exact damage to property will be known only after the verification is done,” the DIG said.