Saturday, March 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Shiv Sena goes on rampage in Kaithal
Tribune Reporters

Fire burns inside the mosque in Kalayat, Kaithal which was attacked by a mob on Friday.
Fire burns inside the mosque in Kalayat, Kaithal, which was attacked by a mob on Friday.
Good strewn outside mosque in Kabootar Chowk, Kaithal, which was attacked by a mob  on Friday.
A scene outside the mosque in Kabootar Chowk, Kaithal, which was attacked by a mob  on Friday. —  Photos N. Chopra

Kaithal, March 1
Tension gripped Kaithal after three places of worship were attacked, damaged and torched today.

Except for a few persons, including police personnel, sustaining injuries, there were no fatalities in the incident which rocked the town today. At least in one incident, the police had to reportedly fire in the air to disperse the mob. The markets in Kaithal as well as Kalayat were closed following the incidents.

The trouble apparently started from a place of worship located at Kabootar chowk in the busy Kath Mandi area of Kaithal. A large number of people gathered at the Kabootar chowk and then went on the rampage.

An eyewitness said the mob entered and attacked the place of worship in the morning. Even as the mob was attacking the place of worship, it was not realised that a small group of people, including women and children, were inside an adjacent building within the masjid complex.

After senior administration officials reached the spot, they learnt that a group of people were trapped inside the complex. Taking immediate action, the 16 persons who were trapped inside, were rescued and brought out safely. They were escorted out under heavy police protection. One member of group was believed to have sustained some injuries while others were said to be shaken but unhurt.

The people, who were saved from the mob, are being kept at a safe place and they are being provided basic amenities by the administration.

The place of worship which was attacked by a frenzied mob, was in ruins. A look inside the place showed that the building had been torched and the walls had been broken.

Following the attack at Kabootar chowk, the mob moved to another place of worship located on Seehta road. The two masjids are barely a few kilometres apart. The mob then attacked the outer walls besides attacking and torching a tenement located nearby. The family which was staying in the tenement had fled the spot. They are believed to have been timely tipped off about the likelihood of an attack.

Besides the broken outer walls of the place of worship and the torched tenement, the rocks strewn inside showed the extent of the mob fury. A neighbour said the mob was raising slogans and had immediately began attacking the place of worship after reaching it.

The mob is believed to have dispersed after the attack on the masjid at Seetha road. However, soon thereafter yet another place of worship was attacked at Kalayat which is located about 25 km from Kaithal. It is believed to have been attacked after the news of the incidents at Kaithal reached there.

It is located opposite the local police station. The villagers attacked it in the afternoon and they razed it. The mob then set fire to the building. A tenement located in the complex was also attacked and the clothes and other articles were set on fire. The family had escaped before the mob attack.

Commissioner Ambala Range, Mr Maha Singh, who was at Kalayat, said the situation had been brought under control. “There were no fatalities in the three incidents and the persons of the minority community who were at the place of worship in Kabootar chowk, are being kept at a safe place,” he said.

He said Section 144 had been imposed in Kaithal district. “Incidentally, Kaithal has always had communal harmony and it is perhaps for the first time in recent past that such an incident has taken place here,” he said.

The Inspector-General of Police, Ambala Range, Mr Alok Joshi, who was also present at Kalayat, said adequate police force had been deployed at Kaithal to ensure that no more such incidents took place. “The situation is under control and investigations are on,” he said.

CHANDIGARH: The Haryana Government has alerted the police all over the state in the wake of an incident at Kaithal where a police Inspector was injured while trying to control a mob, stated an official press note issued here on Friday. Quoting Mr M S Malik, DGP of Haryana, the press note, however, added that the situation at Kaithal was under control. Mr Alok Joshi, IGP, Ambala Range, had reached Kaithal to look after the law and order situation of the city, added the press note.

AMRITSAR: There was violence in the Katra Sher Singh area where protesters went berserk and broke windows and furniture of Krishna Hotel. It was alleged that the hotel owners being Congress supporters had defied the bandh. Some windows were also broken by VHP, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena protesters wielding swords, ‘trishuls’ and bamboo sticks, at Katra Jaimal Singh during protest march.

In a press statement owner of Krishna Hotel, Mr Narinder Pal, alias Billa, has alleged that BJP leader, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP councillor Shvait Mallik, the president All-India Hindu Shiv Sena, Mr Surinder Kumar Billa and two BJP party workers Surinder Kumar and Rahul had incited violence in his hotel and forcibly entered his premises. He alleged that they broke three television sets, telephones, windows, furniture and also decamped with some money in addition to damaging a scooter standing outside the hotel. He alleged that he had incurred a loss of Rs 1.5 lakh.

Ms Chawla when contacted condemned the violence by Hindu protesters and blamed the Congress for fabricating stories against the Opposition and instituting false cases. She denied being a part of the mob that was booked under Sections 452, 427, 323, 506, 148, 149 of the IPC at Kotwali Police Station here today.

JALANDHAR: Even as unscrupulous elements attacked a mosque in the cantonment area here and created rowdy scenes in nearby townships, the VHP, RSS, BJP and Bajrang Dal-sponsored Punjab bandh evoked a mixed response in the Doaba region of Punjab. About 10 rowdy youngsters, said to be Bajrang Dal workers, attacked a mosque at Mohalla No-24 in the cantonment area on Friday morning by pelting stones and fled the scene.

LUDHIANA: A near total bandh was observed in the city on the call of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). Barring a few skirmishes at three places, no major incident of violence was reported from any part of the city that was manned by mounted police patrolling the streets.

GURDASPUR: The Punjab bandh evoked a mixed response in the district. More than 60 per cent shopkeepers observed the bandh. Reports of bandh have been received from Pathankot, Taragarh, Batala, Qadian, and Kahnuan. However, no bandh was observed at Kalanaur, Dorangla, Dhariwal, Dinanagar, Sujanpur and Dhar.

ROPAR: The bandh call given by the VHP against the attack on the train in Gujarat carrying pilgrims evoked a partial response in the district. According to the reports reaching here, the bandh received maximum response in Kurali, Kharar and Nangal areas.

MALERKOTLA: Though there was no apparent tension in this Muslim-dominated town and no bandh was observed by the shopkeepers and traders here on Friday in response to a call for Punjab bandh , the local administration as a precautionary measure took out a flag march, led by SDM Gurlovleen Singh Sidhu. The SDM said the situation was normal as no tension was visible here so far.

HISAR: All shops in the main markets remained closed on Friday in response to bandh call given by the VHP. Government offices, banks and other business establishments, however, functioned normally. All schools and colleges remained open and there was no untoward incident anywhere in the district.

PANIPAT: A majority of shops and commercial establishments remained closed on Friday on account of the Haryana Bandh, a call for which was given by the VHP and other organisations in protest against the Godhra massacre. The bandh, which was supported by the local unit of the Haryana Beopar Mandal, threw life out of gear as a majority of the shops remained closed in the major markets on the GT Road, the Railway Road, the Sanoli Road and the Assandh Road. Meanwhile, the president of the Punjab Wakf Board, Dr M.R. Haq, has appealed to the Muslim community to maintain communal harmony.

SHIMLA: The one-day Himachal Bandh in protest against the burning of karsevaks in the Sabarmati Express at Gohdra passed off peacefully in the state. The call for the Bandh was given by the state unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Shops in Mandi, Kulu, Manali, Bhuntar, Chamba, Una, Solan, Bilaspur, Ghumarwin, Hamirpur, Nadaun and other major towns remained closed for the day. The activists of the VHP took out processions and staged dharnas. They also blocked traffic for some time in Kulu, Mandi, Una and Chamba. The usually crowded Mall and Lower Bazar here wore a deserted look.

KANGRA: Workers of the All-India Hindu Maha Sabha on Friday held demonstrations and set ablaze the effigies of the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Civil Aviation Minister Shah Nawaz Khan and Shahi Imam of Jamia Masjid, Delhi, at the Tehsil chowk of the town and blocked the National Highway.


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