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Fresh communal clashes leave Bangalore tense

Fresh communal clashes leave Bangalore tense

Author: Johnson T A
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: January 22, 2007
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/21483.html

Communal tension simmering since Friday's clash over a Muslim rally to protest Saddam Hussein's execution spilled over to Sunday. Shops and buses were set ablaze and several people injured in group clashes near one of the three places at which Virat Hindu Samaveshas were being held.

Police said a church, too, was attacked.

Among the seriously injured are a police sub-inspector and a constable.

The violence took place in the eastern part of the city, which has sizeable Hindu, Muslim and Christian populations. Businesses were closed and people stayed indoors. The roads were strewn with glass from the many buses and cars that were pelted with stones.

The rest of the city remained unaffected but tense.

Police Commissioner N Achutha Rao attributed the violence to the tension built up in the area in the wake of Friday's rally against Saddam Hussein's execution, organised by the People's Front, floated by former Union minister Jaffer Sharief.

That day groups of protestors marching through a largely-Muslim locality had pulled down banners, flags, and posters for Sunday's Virat Hindu Mahasabha, being held as three Samaveshas across the city. This had led to clashes.

The eastern part of the city, which grew around the British cantonment, is a much-desired residential area and has generally been peaceful.

Traditionally, the eastern region has been a stronghold of Muslim leaders. But in the last election, it voted for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Both MLAs from the region belong to the party. Also the MP, former police commissioner H.T. Sangliana, who wrested Sharief's seat.

The BJP, which is in government with the Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka, has over the past month been organising Virat Hindu Mahasabhas across the state in association with Sangh Parivar bodies on the occasion of the birth centenary of former RSS Sarsanghchalak M S Golwalkar.

Most of its conventions have passed without event. A meeting in Mysore on January 8, however, saw VHP general secretary Praveen Togadia make some inflammatory remarks leading to protests by Muslim leaders.

johnson.ta@expressindia.com


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