NEW DELHI, Jan 23: Taking a leaf out of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, the Sena-BJP-NCP government in Maharashtra used bulldozers – escorted by a large force of police and security personnel – to punish those creating trouble in Mira Road before and after the consecration ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on Monday.
The police claimed that only the “illegal” constructions in Mumbai’s Mira Road suburb had been torn down amidst heavy police presence.
The deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said 13 people were arrested in connection with the communal incidents reported from Mira Road, Panvel and Nagpur on Monday, apart from minor incidents in other parts of the state that included sloganeering and tearing posters.
Violent incidents of communal nature were reported from different parts of Maharashtra, ahead of the “Pran Pratishta” ceremony at the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on Monday.
Police said the “illegal” encroachments by the accused are being bulldozed – an experiment initiated by the Uttar Pradesh government and then followed by several other BJP-led states against criminals even as various detractors question the authority and legality of such action.
Videos of the incidents from Sunday evening and Monday afternoon, the latter hours after the consecration of the temple – many of which were widely shared on social media – showed two groups throwing stones at each other.
By Monday night police had arrested over a dozen people in connection with the clashes, which erupted as a Shri Ram Shobha Yatra was passing through Mira Road’s Naya Nagar area. The procession, which had cars and bikes with saffron flags, was attacked by a mob with stones, police said, adding some people were injured in the incident.
The police said the “illegal” encroachments by the accused are being bulldozed. The mob also vandalised the cars with stones and sticks, they said.
Mr Fadnavis posted on X Monday night that “anyone trying to disrupt law and order” in the state would be punished severely. “The complete details of the incident in the Naya Nagar area of Mira-Bhyander were taken last night only. I was in constant touch with the Mira-Bhyander Police Commissioner till 3.30 am Monday.”
“Police have been instructed to take strict action against the accused. In this case, 13 accused have been detained so far and the process of identifying the other accused is underway by checking the CCTV footage. Anyone trying to disrupt law and order in Maharashtra will not be tolerated,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Jayant Bajbale told reporters the conflict broke out 11 pm on Sunday “when some people of the Hindu community were raising slogans in three-four vehicles…” “Shortly after, an argument broke out between the Hindu community and some people belonging to the Muslim community. Seeing the deteriorating situation, the police vehicle immediately reached the spot and took some people into custody,” he said. Mr Bajbale later said the situation had been brought under control and a flag march conducted.
Meanwhile, addressing a rally in Nashik, Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray trained guns at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, saying that the ruling party had “stolen” Shiv Sena. “You promised 2 crores jobs. Where are those jobs? What kind of Ram Bhakts are you?” the Shiv Sena leader added. “Now that the (Ram Mandir) consecration ceremony is over, let’s have a debate on the work done by the BJP in past years. Let’s calculate and debate what BJP did in the past 10 years and what the Congress did in the past 75 years,” Thackeray added.