Bandh violence claims 5 in MP; scores arrested

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Bhopal, July 3 (UNI) Five people died and more than 20 were injured even as about 200 arrests were executed today in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Madhya Pradesh during a nationwide dawn-to-dusk Bharat Bandh called by the Vishva Hindu Parishad and backed by the BJP over the Amarnath land allotment issue.

Describing the violence as the state government's conspiracy, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Jamuna Devi urged Governor Balram Jakhar to recommend President's rule.

Official sources said that maximum violence was reported from the state's western part.

In Madhya Pradesh's commercial capital Indore, curfew was clamped in sensitive Pandrinath, Chhatripura, Khajrana and Malharganj police station areas where firing, stone-pelting and stabbing claimed the lives of four people belonging to different communities.

Half-a-dozen shops and as many vehicles were torched. At least 24 people, including ten police personnel, were hurt. Police opened fire and lobbed tear gas canisters. Some arrests were carried out but the precise figure was not disclosed.

Trader Hiralal Soni (28) doused himself with kerosene and set it alight outside his shop in Satna district's Rampurbaghelan after being assaulted by bandh supporters. Soni, who sustained 90 per cent burns, was first rushed to the District Hospital and then admitted to a private hospital in Satna where he succumbed in the evening.

In the eastern half, the cantonment town Jabalpur witnessed sporadic clashes and at least 185 arrests. Prohibitory orders were imposed on Jhabua district headquarters after violence and damage to property.

In the state capital's old city area, two groups indulged in stoning over closure of shops. Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code was imposed in two police station limits of Harda district headquarters where stoning injured one person.

The bandh evoked widespread response in Gwalior, Ujjain, Sagar, Rewa and other towns. Reports of sporadic violence were received from several places. Life was thrown off gear as schools, colleges and fuel pumps remained closed and public transport vehicles failed to ply. Some trains were briefly halted in Sagar and Dewas.

A report from Indore said that clashes between bandh-supporters and those opposing it assumed communal hues.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told the press here that the guilty would not be spared. ''The violence was unfortunate and a thorough probe will be conducted. The situation in the state is completely under control,'' he added.

The Chief Minister sought information from Chief Secretary Rakesh Sahni and other senior officers.

Slamming the violence, the main opposition Congress alleged that the Bajrang Dal and its affiliate organisations ran amuck in the state at the administration's orchestration.

''Faith and confidence were thrown to the winds as terror and goondaism ruled the roost,'' alleged Congress state spokesman K K Mishra.

The Uma Bharti-led Bharatiya Jan Shakti, Communist Party of India and CPI (Marxist) held the state regime and administration responsible for the violence.

UNI Team-AC 2045

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