Navratri in Poll-Bound Gujarat Tainted by Violence, Demolitions, and Flogging

These incidents were spread across districts and cities like Kheda, Vadodara, Surat, and Porbandar among others.

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At least six incidents of communal violence and state action in the form of demolitions of alleged 'encroachments' in areas inhabited by the minority community were reported from Gujarat during Navratri.

The state goes to elections in a few months, and the violence was reported between members of the Hindu and Muslim communities in districts such as Kheda, Vadodara, Surat, and Porbandar, among others.


Kheda: Public Flogging of Muslims

From Kheda district, located 37 km away from Ahmedabad, a chilling video emerged of a group of Muslim men being tied to an electric pole and being thrashed by a group of men, as locals cheered on. In the 69-second video, which surfaced online on 4 October, one of the men can be seen beating up the Muslim men with a stick, and also seems to have a gun holster around his waist. The video shows uniformed police personnel standing by as mute spectators.

Meanwhile, Congress MLAs Imran Khedawala and Gyasuddin Sheikh of the Gujarat Assembly have alleged that the men beating up the Muslim men are police officials. "The officials who took the law into their hands should be immediately suspended," a part of the former's tweet read.

Senior police officer V R Bajpai told NDTV that on the night of 3 October, "there was a garba event organized by the sarpanch. When garba started, people from the nearby Muslim community gathered and stopped women from playing garba. Soon, stone pelting started. Women and men were injured. Muslims started the stone pelting. (An) FIR has been lodged. Thirteen people have been arrested. They have also confessed to the crime."

Additionally, sources told The Hindu that strict action will be taken against thoe policemen who publicly flogged the Muslim men.

The garba event was organised by the village sarpanch , which is adjacent to a madrassa. Bajpai also said that a Muslim mob tried to halt the garba celebrations, which was followed by clashes characterised by stone pelting and rioting.

In total, 43 people from the mob have been identified and booked, and 150 unidentified have also been booked for the violence at the temple that occured on Monday, 3 October.


Kheda: Violence at a College Garba Venue

At the BK Patel Arts & Commerce College in Kheda, four Muslim men were arrested on 1 and 2 October for allegedly attacking a group of Hindu students after a few Qawwali songs were played at a garba event, a police personnel told The Quint.

The police source claimed, "A professor of the university started playing some Sufi and Qawwali songs at the event, and the Hindu students objected. In response to the objections, they were beaten up by the Muslim students."

All four Muslims men were arrested and were later bailed out.


Vadodara: Communal Clashes Over Flags

In Vadodara's Savli town, a clash took place over saffron flags and green flags between members of the Hindu and Muslim communities on 1 October night.

Savli police inspector AR Mahida told The Quint, "Tension escalated in the area after a confrontration took place between members of the Hindu community and the Muslim community over hoisting of their respective religious flags. There was stone pelting but no one was injured. A car and a shop were damaged. We took down both the flags."

These incidents were spread across districts and cities like Kheda, Vadodara, Surat, and Porbandar among others.

A car was damaged in the violence.

(Photo: accessed by The Quint)

These incidents were spread across districts and cities like Kheda, Vadodara, Surat, and Porbandar among others.

A shop was damaged in the violence.

(Photo: accessed by The Quint)

These incidents were spread across districts and cities like Kheda, Vadodara, Surat, and Porbandar among others.

Police officials take down a saffron flag hoisted at an electric pole.

(Photo: accessed by The Quint)

On the occasion of Hindu festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi and Navratri, members of the Hindu community had erected a saffron flag on an electric pole in Dhamiji ka Dera locality in Savli, claimed a source from Savli. Meanwhile, the Muslim community had hoisted the green flag to observe the upcoming Eid Milad un Nabi, claimed the source.

PR Patel of Vadodra Rural Police told news agency ANI that 40 people were arrested, with 25 from one community and 15 from the other (which community had more arrests were not revealed).

All have now been released, a police source told The Quint.


Surat: Bajrang Dal Men Clash With Muslim Bouncers at Garba Event 

In Vesu, a town located in Surat, members belonging to the Bajrang Dal allegedly beat up Muslim bouncers who were employed at a garba event in on 3 October night.

Devuprasad Dubey, the South Gujarat Bajrang Dal president, told The Indian Express, that they received information about Muslim bouncers at the garba event, despite "warning the event organiser in the past" about such hiring Muslim men.

Two bouncers were taken to the hospital. Police said that no complaint has been registered in the matter so far. As per Dubey, at least 200 Bajrang Dal men had reached the scene to "check" if any Muslim bouncers were present. He alleged that the Muslim bouncers "gave false Hindu names."


Porbandar: Dargah Demolished, Govt Calls it Illegal

A demolition drive followed by protests and use of tear gas by the police marked this week in Porbandar. Prohibitory orders ie. section 144 of the CrPC (which prohibits gathering of four or more people in a particular area) were passed by four police stations on 5 October. The order is supposed to be in effect till 10 October.

This incident, however, is not related to Navratri or a garba event. On 3 October, the district administration demolished a dargah called the Muradsha Pir Dargah in Porbandar's Udyognagar area. Locals started protesting after which the situation escalated and the police fired tear gas shells, The Indian Express reported.

The four police stations around which the prohibitory orders have been issued are Udyognagar, Kutiyana, Ranavav, and Kirtimandir.

Harun Sati, a panel advocate for the Waqf Board, claimed that the demolished dargah (registered with the Waqf Board) was around 500 years old. He told The Indian Express, "The administration had issued a notification about the demolition on 29 September but had not given us adequate time to respond to it."


Bet Dwarka: Massive Demolition Drive Removes 45 'Encroachments'

In Bet Dwarka, the island at the mouth of the Gulf of Kutch, the district administration of Devbhumi Dwarka conducted a five-day long demolition drive, removing 45 "encroachments" from government land.

The official Twitter account of the Gujarat BJP posted pictures of the demolitions with a tweet in Gujarati, part of which loosely translates to, "illegal constructions were erected in Bet Dwarka by some anti-social elements."

The first paragraph of the tweet read, "Bet Dwarka is located on the international border and is very close to Karachi (in Pakistan), making it very important to protect this sensitive place."

The island is inhabited by around 10,000 people, most of whom are Muslims, but is famous for the Dwarkadhish Mukhya Mandir, a shrine for Hindu deity Krishna, making an important place of worship for the Hindu community.

(With inputs from NDTV and The Indian Express.)

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