Wednesday, December 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India





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Clashes in Vadodara

Ahmedabad, December 17
Three persons were injured in group clashes at four places in Vadodara where violence erupted late last night, the police said today.

According to the police here, a group attacked a religious place in the Yakubpura area, apparently in retaliation to Sundayís incident in which one person was killed and 17 were injured during the Assembly election victory marches by BJP activists at three places in the state.

The news of the attack on the religious place spread to other areas resulting in group clashes in the Macchitith, Hathi Khana and Nagarwada areas, the police said, adding that it had to open several rounds of fire into the air to quell it.

The situation was now under control, the police said. The injured had been hospitalised.

While two youths were injured in the police firing at Nagarwada and Fatehpura, at least 20 others were hurt in a pitched battle between members of the two communities.

The police said they lobbed 28 teargas shells and fired six rounds after the situation went out of control at Nagarwada and Fatehpura.

The irate mobs damaged two places of worship at Chhipwad and Yakutpura, besides looting and setting ablaze 10 houses and shops in different riot-hit areas.

Earlier in the day, newly elected BJPís Vadodara city candidate and former minister Bhupendra Lakhawala had a narrow escape when a mob attacked him at Dabhi Falia, where he had gone to see some of the riot victims said to be loyal to his party.

In Rajkot, the curfew was relaxed today for 14 hours in B-division and Bhaktinagar police station areas, as the situation remained peaceful yesterday.

The curfew was relaxed from 7am to 9 pm, the police said adding that the night curfew, however, would remain in force till the total restoration of normalcy in the area.

Meanwhile, a report from Surat said the police had arrested two persons for possessing an AK-47 rifle and 27 cartridges that were found in an abandoned car in the Pandesara area of the city on Sunday, the day of counting of votes in Gujarat Assembly poll.

Police sources said Ashish Patel and Suresh Pant were arrested from the Surat railway station while they were trying to flee the city yesterday.

During interrogation, they confessed to having possessed the weapon. While Patel is the son of the owner of a guest house near Gandhinagar, Pantís antecedents are being probed. PTI, UNI

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