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BJP leader among 90 held for Vadodara violence

Rahi Gaikwad

A security personnel patrols a deserted road after a clash in Vadodara.

Reuters A security personnel patrols a deserted road after a clash in Vadodara.

A BJP leader and a member of the party’s youth wing are among the 90 people arrested for violence in Vadodara last week.

Manish Wagh, Vadodara BJP’s ward chief, and Vaibhav Shelar, member of the party’s youth wing, were arrested on Saturday. They were booked on charges of arson, vandalism and stone-throwing.

“They were present on the spot provoking miscreants,” a police inspector told The Hindu.

Residents of Yakutpura — one of the worst-affected neighbourhoods in the city — have alleged police complicity in the violence. “Crime Branch personnel in plain clothes were the ones who smashed the vehicles,” said a resident.

A fact-finding group of local activists submitted a complaint to Police Commissioner E. Radhakrishnan.

“The complaint is under investigation,” Mr. Radhakrishnan said.

In the Taiwada area, where the police conducted raids at night, residents claimed that police assaulted women and set on fire a motorbike.

“There is one allegation that the police manhandled the women. I have asked the Commissioner to take action,” said S.K. Nanda, Additional Chief Secretary, Home.

Asked if the violence could be linked to a series of provocative statements and threats, Mr. Nanda said, “Such statements give encouragement.”

The four days of violence in Vadodara which started with a controversial post on a social networking site were preceded by inflammatory statements pertaining to the Navaratri festival.

Throughout September, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad gave several statements that Muslims would not be allowed at ‘Garba’ events. It announced a campaign against ‘love jihad’ and beef consumption during Navaratri.

A week ago, Imam Mehdi Hasan was arrested for allegedly making provocative remarks against the Navaratri festival. The VHP called for his arrest and filed a case against him.

Soon after, Viral Desai, VHP president in Bharuch district, announced that ‘Garba’ dance would be performed at a holy place of Muslims.

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