A video from Chhattisgarh’s District Kawardha, showing a mob in Muslim outfits and looks bringing down a saffron coloured flag and tearing it to shreds, leading to violent brawls on the street, went viral recently.
Sources said both groups wanted to install their respective religious flags at the crossroads, which led to the conflict at the Maa Karma Chowk near the temple of a goddess that Hindus of the region believe takes care of Krishna.
A Hindu flag has for years and decades fluttered at the crossroads. Recently, a Muslim mob came charging to the spot and installed an Islamic flag as well. The video shows a person climbing the pole, removing the Hindu flag and shredding it.
Local authorities said the police had organised a shanti samiti meeting with people on 3 October, urging them to remove religious flags from the crossroads in view of the upcoming festivals and in order to maintain peace and harmony. “The groups agreed to the same, but some young people from both communities reached the site later and created a ruckus,” said a police officer.
Section 144 imposed
Police imposed Section 144 of CrPc (Criminal Code Procedure) in the area subsequently to bring the situation under control but made no arrest.
A local journalist said an argument escalated to violence, followed by stone-pelting. Ajay Thakur, Shoyab Adri, and Durgesh Devangan from the two groups have sustained injuries.
District Collector Ramesh Sharma said, “The police had to use mild force to bring the situation under control and to disperse the frenzied mob. Nobody will be allowed to take law and order into their hands. We have put the situation under control including enforcement of Section 144 in the area, all other precautionary measures have been taken.”
“The police will remain deployed in the area till the tension is diffused,” Sharma said.
The Chhattisgarh government has asked the police to identify the miscreants using CCTV footage and ordered a temporary closure of all schools and colleges in the area.
Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is looking for ways to enter Uttar Pradesh after the Yogi government barred Indian National Congress (INC) leaders from visiting the violence-affected farmer protest site of Lakhimpur Kheri.