Ranchi: Jharkhand seems to be falling apart at the seams. Vested interests and certain political actors linked to the state government machinery appear hell-bent on causing all sorts of polarisations and divisions among the tribal people, and among the non-tribals as well. Rampant misuse of the newly introduced freedom of religion bill, demonisation of the pathalgadi practice by the government and local press as ‘secessionist’, and once again the bogey of cow slaughter plagues this once peaceful area.
A mob of agitators, prodded by rumour mongers, held a morning ‘protest’ that turned violent along a 500-metre stretch of Purulia Road road, the heart of the capital. What sparked off the near riot was the alleged discovery of ‘prohibited meat’ in Tharpakhna and rumours about reprisal spread on Wednesday.
City DSP Raj Kumar Mehta was injured trying to control the heavy stone-pelting between two groups of 700 agitators, which lasted for around 10 minutes from 10 am between Gudri Chowk and Mission Chowk, leading to Purulia Road. He had to be taken to a private hospital.
The story is that meat suspected to be beef was ‘recovered’ from at least four places in Tharpakhna, a neighbourhood dominated by Hindus in Lalpur thana area, in the morning. So, a gang of ‘Angry residents’ blocked Purulia Road at Mission Chowk from 9am. The choice of the location of the protest was interesting. It’s a road with schools, convents, and Catholic Church institutions, with an offshoot lane leading to Gudri, a Muslim dominated pocket.
News spread that a Muslim man bringing his son to school was manhandled by the protesters, and that led ‘Angry Residents’ of Gudri Chowk, to march to Mission Chowk.
“The stone-pelting began near St. John’s school. There were around 700 people in the two mobs, but hardly 60 men in uniform,” an eyewitness told the local media. After 10 minutes or so, a quick response team reached the spot and controlled the situation using tear gas shells and lathis,” he added.
City SP Aman Kumar played down the clash, saying it didn’t last long enough for grave damage, but conceded that DSP Mehta sustained chest injuries and admitted to Orchid hospital. “The situation became normal within 10 minutes. The DSP was injured, but he is alright,” Kumar said and also confirmed the recovery of banned meat.
DSP Mehta recalled that a stone missile struck him on the chest. “Both sides were pelting stones. I can’t say who hit me. I just remember the size of the stone. It was very big,” the officer told the media, adding that he underwent an X-ray and there were no rib cage fractures. “I am still in pain, but I guess I got lucky. I have been released after check-up.”
SP Kumar said an FIR would be registered in the case. “Around 100 policemen have been deployed in the area to prevent a flare-up.”
Observers say that mischief makers have been working overtime to destabilize peace and harmony in Jharkhand. A significant section of the locals has lost faith in the administration.