Muslims’ shops burnt during BJP bandh in Maharashtra, say police

Photo courtesy to PTI.

Shops belong to Muslims were targeted for arson and destruction during a bandh called by the BJP in Maharashtra’s Amravati on Saturday.

The activists of the BJP, Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena were behind the violence, according to cops.

“They gathered at Rajkamal Chowk. A section of this crowd turned violent, burnt two shops, damaged some other shops, burnt vehicles. Almost all the victims are from the minority community. It appears that the violence had been planned a day in advance in retaliation for the violence on Friday by some members of the minority community,” a police officer told Indian Express.

Two shrines were damaged in the Hindutva violence.

Two shops and three two-wheelers were also burnt, the newspaper reported.

Also a shop was damaged and the shop owner’s vehicle also burnt during bandh.

37 year old Feroze Ahmed whose two-wheeler repair shop was gutted, said to Indian Express that the police were watching as his shop burnt.

He said: “The pandemic had hurt my business, but this mindless rioting has ended everything for me. The police were watching as my shop burnt. I have lost property worth Rs 8 lakh. They also burnt three vehicles of my customers parked in front of my shop. How will I pay for all this and care of my family? I am the sole breadwinner. I blame politician Pravin Pote for it. I told police to make him an accused in the case. He was the one who organised the morcha. I want the government to pay for my losses and punish the guilty.”

On Friday, muslim groups organised protest rallies against anti-Muslim violence in Tripura across Maharashtra, mainly cities of Amravati, Malegaon, and Nanded. A bandh was observed in Muslim-dominated areas of Mumbai including Bhendi Bazar, Mohammad Ali Road, Kurla as well as Mumbra and Bhiwandi in Thane. In Amravati city in east Maharashtra, over eight thousand people gathered outside the district collector’s office and submitted a memorandum demanding that atrocities against the Muslims should be stopped. By police estimates, some 25,000 people participated in this protest.

Reports say stones were thrown during protests of Muslims at the house of local BJP leader Pravin Pote, breaking a window.

The BJP called Saturday’s bandh in response and around 6,000 saffron men and allied organisations came out to enforce the closure, which is when the violence erupted.