Varanasi: Curfew was clamped in four police station areas of Varanasi when police failed to control the mob indulged in Gorilla war with them following violence and arson erupted in ‘Anyaya Pratikar Yatra’- a march carried out by seers in the city on Monday afternoon in protest against assault on them during police cane charge on intervening night of September 22/23.
District administration and police announced for promulgating curfew in Dashaswamedh, Luxa, Chowk and Kotwali police station areas after the police and PAC failed to control the situation by late in the evening. Many cops and photographers suffered injuries in the clash between demonstrators and police. The angry mob of demonstrators set a police booth, several police jeeps, motorcycles standing in a parking and hoardings at Godowlia, which remained the epic center of incident. The pilgrims especially the women thronged the city to perform the rituals of `Jyutia’ festival and tourists remained worst sufferers during this high drama.
The bandh call given by seers led by Swami Avimukteshwaranand evoked good response in the city since morning. Around 2 pm Avimukteshwaranand along with Mahant Balakdas of Patalpuri Mutt, Sadhvi Prachi of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Mahant Santosh Das of Satua Baba Ashram reached Townhall ground in Maidagin area to carry out their much hyped `Anyaya Pratikar Yatra’. Till 4 pm when the march started from Townhall thousands belonging to Congress, Bhartiya Janata Party, VHP, traders associations and other organisations had gathered there.
Before main procession led by seers could reach Chowk small groups of demonstrators started reaching Godowlia by shouting slogans like `Murti Visarjan kaha karenge Gangaji me Gangaji me’ and also condemned the assaulting of seers. Some of the same groups came face to face while lauding slogans, which led to chaos there. Some cops tried to intervene to control the situation when these groups indulged in fighting with cops. Within few seconds the situation took a dramatic turn and the demonstrators indulged in violence. After indulging in brick batting by targeting police booth and vehicles they also set them ablaze.
Till then the main procession comprising of seers and also a palanquin carrying symbolic idol of Lord Vishwanatha reached Bansphatak. As the situation had worsened at Godowlia and to control mob the police started charging cane, tear gas shelling and also triggering rubber bullets to bring the situation under control, the seers stopped procession at Tedhi Neem.
On the other hand the demonstrators, who were dispersed during police action, got divided in small groups and indulged in Gorilla war with cops from the areas like Jangambadi, Bansphatak, Ramapura road and Luxa areas. The SSP Akash Kulhari was leading the police and PAC team, but their insufficient strength compared to demonstrators allowed the latter to rule the areas in vicinity of Godowlia for hours. On failing to pacify the situation the officials announced for camping curfew at 6 pm.
According to divisional commissioner Nitin Ramesh Gokarn, due to the breach in peace and law and order by some anti-social elements during the yatra curfew was imposed in four police station areas as precautionary measure. He also said that a constant vigil was being kept on social media, and any attempt of fanning hatred would be taken seriously.
Earlier, differences between seers also surfaced at Townhall ground when VHP’s firebrand leader Sadvi Prachi started speech by targeting alleged appeasement of Muslims by Samajwadi Party led government. When Swami Avimukteshwaranand tried to stop her by asking to speak about the issue of agitation she decided to quit the dais. Situation normalized there following intervention of other seers.
The Anyaya Pratikar Yatra was planned by Avimukteshwararanand in protest against assaulting of seers including him by the police during Ganesh idol immersion row on intervening night of September 22/23. The district administration had not allowed to immerse the idols in river Ganga in view of High Court order while puja organisers especially organisers of forthcoming Durga puja area rigid to immerse the procession in Ganga only.