Stop Rumours! Stop Communal Violence! Stay United…
Two people have been killed in Belgaum district and more than 100 have been arrested since Saturday night owing to communal violence.
Schools, colleges and shops were closed on Monday. The police have imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code to avoid any untoward incident. Police said Asif Mohammed Mangavkar, 28, and Chetan Kumar Patil, 25, were the casualties of the violence. Rival groups attacked them in separate incidents.
Communal tension had been brewing up in the place for the past 10 days. Members of a minority community had erected a temporary shed at Peeranwadi town (Belgaum district), on Belgaum-Goa NH4. The town has a population of about 16,000. The shed was erected next to the place of worship of a majority community. Members of the majority community objected to the shed. Members of the minority community assured them that they would pull it down after their month-long annual festival ended.
However, the shed continued to be at the place even five days after the festival was over. On Saturday morning, majority community members asked the minority community members to deconstruct the shed, to which the latter reportedly said they would do it later. This led to heated arguments between the two groups.
On Saturday night, the shed was pulled down, allegedly by the people of the majority community.
A police complaint was filed against 12 persons for pulling down the shed, of which eight were arrested on Sunday morning. The entire incident aggravated the tension and members of both the community started gathering support through text messages and phone calls. Soon after, fight broke out between the two groups.
About 10 pm, 90-100 people from the majority community attacked a physically challenged man (Mangavkar) of the other community. The victim pleaded with the attackers to spare him, but to no avail. They attacked him with iron rods and swords, with the grievous injuries killing him instantly. Also, the miscreants pelted stones at the place of worship of the minority community.
In another incident, which took place on Sunday morning, members of the minority community allegedly killed Patil by stabbing him nine times when he was going to his home in a village near Karnataka-Maharashtra border. He was pursuing MD (Doctor of Medicine) from S Nijalingappa Medical College in Bagalkot and had come home on leave.
Another incident of attack, on a member of the minority community, was reported in the district. Tabreez Imam Hussain Makandar, 22, was attacked by a group of men armed with machetes and knives.
He was grievously injured and is undergoing treatment at a hospital.
Senior police officials did not say that communal rivalry was behind the incident, although lower-rank officials did concede that.