1 killed in communal violence in Faizabad, curfew imposed

One person was killed and 25 shops were set on fire during a clash between members of two communities over immersion of Durga idol, after which curfew was imposed tonight on Faizabad town, police said.

Three persons were injured in a separate incident of violence in Barabanki town as a sequeul to a dispute between two groups over the route of a Durga idol immersion procession.

Violence in Faizabad had erupted yesterday after participants of a procession carrying a Durga idol for immersion turned violent following rumours that members of a particular community damaged an idol by pelting stones, Uttar Pradesh DGP A C Sharma, who arrived here today, said.

He said 25 shops were gutted by enraged people, most of whom were in a drunken state during the procession, he said, adding that according to the primary investigations, the entire episode appeared to be "pre-planned".

One person identified as Durga Prasad was killed after being stabbed during the violence, IGP (Law and Order) B P Singh said, adding that Prasad died on way to hospital.
However, the DGP said there was no casualty in the violence.

"The incidents seems to be pre-planned by a group. During the procession, all liquor shops were open and those who were part of it were badly drunk, with some drinking in the vehicles carrying the idols," Sharma said.

Denying damage to any idol during the immersion, he said the role of local officers who "failed" to discharge their duties is also being investigated and those found guilty will be "definitely punished".

The police have got some video footage of the incident which are being examined, Sharma added. Tension had prevailed yesterday after rumours that colours were thrown on a place of worship by processionists.

It, however, took a violent turn in the evening after a procession carrying idol of Goddess Durga for immersion turned furious following rumours that some members belonging to a particular community had damaged an idol in another area of the city.

In Lucknow, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today warned of strict action against those accused of arousing communal passion in the district. "Our government will initiate strict action against those involved in communal tension in Faizabad district during immersion of idols of Goddess Durga. We will also give compensation to those persons, whose shops were gutted in fire," he said.

Tension began in Barabanki following dispute between two groups during immersion of Durga idol in Mohammadpur Khala area of the district here last evening, Singh said.
Members of rival groups had objected to the route taken by a procession carrying idol from Sujanpur village, he said, adding that this led to incident of stone pelting.

Singh said police had to use mild force to control the situation and idols were immersed late night. He said in Faizabad, 10 companies of PAC, one of rapid action force and 300 sub-inspectors were deployed in the affected areas, and besides that, additional force has been called from all districts of Faizabad and Lucknow Zone.

Meanwhile, BJP national vice-president Vinay Katiyar was briefly detained by police in Barabaki district while he was going to visit curfew bound areas in Faizabad.
He, however, was later released.

Holding the state government responsible for trouble in various places during idol immersion, BJP alleged that these incidents were result of administrative failure. "A high-level inquiry should be conducted to probe these incidents," BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said in Lucknow.

UPCC President Nirmal Khatri also condemned the Faizabad violence, and demanded immediate deployment of CRPF in the affected areas besides arrest of those involved.

He claimed that despite assurances from Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, the situation in Faizabad was still not normal.

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