Curfew was imposed in Maharashtra’s Amravati on November 14 after violence that broke out the previous day continued with a mob destroying private and public property. “On November 12, Muslim organisations called for a bandh in several cities of Maharashtra protesting against the incidents in Tripura where Muslims were allegedly targeted. The bandh turned violent in Malegaon, Nanded and Amravati cities as the mob threw stones and damaged private properties,” reported The Hindu.

The next day, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called for a bandh in Amravati. The bandh, however, turned violent. Stone-pelting, vandalism and incidents of arson were reported from the city.

OpIndia published an article where BJP’s Tushar Bhartiya was quoted as saying that Muslim mobs attacked Hindu establishments with swords and stones. The pro-BJP propaganda outlet used an image that showed a cop attempting to douse the fire in a shop.

Sudarshan News posted a video of the same shop engulfed in flames and alleged “jihadi violence”.

The photo shows a Muslim shop

OpIndia has used a cropped photo of the burning shop “Khan Electricals”. The original picture is a PTI image and is described as, “Policemen try to douse a fire in a shop after a mob went on a rampage during a bandh allegedly organised by BJP in Amravati on Saturday.”

The shop is right beside “Choube’s Nukkad Kachori”, which according to Google Maps is barely a kilometre from Rajkamal Chowk where BJP, Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena took out a march on Saturday.

“Shadab Khan, 36, whose shop established in 1970 for repairing electronic items was gutted too, fought back tears as he counted his losses,” reported The Indian Express.

The Wire also spoke to Khan. He said that “he received a call from his uncle on Saturday morning informing him that Hindutva rioters had broken down the lock of his shop. Khan’s attempt to reach his shop was cut short after the police stopped him on the way. Within a few hours, the rioters had set fire to his shop”.

The Indian Express further reported that two shops and three two-wheelers parked outside one of the two shops that were burnt were set on fire. The other shop gutted was a two-wheeler repair shop owned by Feroze Ahmed, 37. One other shop was damaged, and the shop owner’s vehicle also burnt. Two shrines were also damaged.

It is noteworthy that another report in The Wire says that eye-witnesses claim that the Shani Mandir in Sakkar Saath was attacked by Muslim mobs but the police said that damage was done during “intermittent stone-pelting”.

What led to the communal violence?

On Friday, November 12, a protest march was called by Raza Academy in Amravati against the alleged anti-Muslim violence in Tripura. A few participants from the march allegedly stormed and ransacked Hindu shops and when the crowd was passing through the Kotwali area, stones were thrown at the house of local BJP leader Pravin Pote. In response, the local BJP unit called for a bandh on Saturday, sparking more violence. The authorities said that hundreds of people gathered chanting slogans and raising saffron flags. Properties belonging to Muslims were damaged in the violence.

“More than 70 persons have been arrested thus far and more than 25 FIRs registered at four police stations in Amravati in connection with the violence and vandalism that occurred on November 12 and 13. Officials said Mr. Bonde — the State Agriculture Minister under the erstwhile BJP regime — and Mr. Pote [BJP MLC from Amravati] were instrumental among others in calling for and organising the BJP’s shutdown on November 13,” reported The Hindu.

Bonde, Amravati district BJP president Nivedita Chaudhary, city mayor Chetan Gawande, BJP state spokesperson Shivrai Kulkarni were arrested by the police but later granted bail by a court.

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About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.