The Hindu festival of Ram Navami was enthusiastically celebrated across the country on Thursday, marking the end of the nine-day Chaitra-Navratri celebrations. While it remained largely incident-free, with sharp vigilance from law enforcement agencies, communal clashes and disturbances were reported in a few states.
Peace and calm now prevail in West Bengal's Howrah which saw communal clashes and violence after alleged incendiary slogans and stone pelting during a Ram Navami procession. Police deployment remains in the area, and the road where the incident took place has also been opened up to traffic. Several vehicles were damaged as violent protesters set them on fire. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that she saw the rioters as enemies of the country. The police conducted a flag march after restoring calm in the area, with top police officers on the ground to bring the situation under control. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said the procession took an unauthorised route "to particularly target and attack one community".
Ms Banerjee accused the BJP of hiring goons from outside the state to orchestrate communal riots. "Nobody has stopped their processions, but they do not have the right to march with swords and bulldozers. How did they get the audacity to do this in Howrah?" she said.
The BJP has hit back, accusing the Trinamool Congress of lying.
"TMC is lying because it was not the wrong route. There was permission till Howrah ground and this was the only route to go there. Now such days have come in India that you can take out Ram Navami procession in some areas and can't go to other areas: West Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumdar told news agency ANI.
In Mumbai's Malvani area, tension prevailed as two groups clashed with each other during a Rama Navami 'Shobha Yatra' on Thursday night. Police have caught more than 20 people in connection with the violence, which left one person injured. Some of the participants alleged stone pelting, which created panic among people, police said, adding that the situation was tense for a while, but it is under control now. Cases have been filed against more than 300 unidentified people.
A police team was attacked and several of their vehicles were set on fire during a violent clash between two groups in Maharashtra's Aurangabad on Wednesday night. An argument between two groups of young men had snowballed into a clash in Aurangabad, which has been renamed Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar. At least 12 people, including 10 policemen, were injured after a mob of around 500 people went berserk and hurled stones and petrol-filled bottles when the personnel tried to control the situation following a clash between two groups near a Ram temple, officials said on Thursday. One person was killed in the violence. According to the police, a bullet fired to control the crowd hit a person who has died. Tight security arrangements have been made in the area, which is peaceful. The burnt vehicles have been removed. No arrest has been made yet, the police said. They have formed 10 teams to arrest those who fanned the violence.
In Gujarat's Vadodara city, stones were thrown at two Ram Navami processions, leaving some persons injured. While the first incident took place near Panjrigar mohalla in Fatehpura area in the afternoon, the second took place in nearby Kumbharwada in the evening. 24 people have been detained for allegedly throwing stones in Fatehpura, where a man was injured. Some persons, including women, were injured in Kumbharwada as well, police said. Local BJP MLA Manisha Vakil was part of the procession which came under attack at Kumbharwada.
In Karnataka's Hassan district, two people were stabbed during a clash between people of two communities during a Ram Navami procession. The situation is reportedly peaceful now.
In Delhi, many people defied a police order and took out a procession in Jahangirpuri, which witnessed riots last year during Hanuman Jayanti celebrations.
Ram Navami is a Hindu festival that is celebrated to honour the birth of Lord Vishnu's incarnation, Lord Rama.