Deesa town tense after group clashes

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Palanpur Oct, 6 (UNI) Tension gripped Deesa town, known for its record potato crop, after clashes between two groups today, sparked off by rumours about death of a trader.

Mobs stoned the Deesa police station, leading to injuries to a constable, who has been hospitalised, police said.

All shops and business establishments downed their shutters after incidents of sporadic stone-petting this afternoon.

The clashes broke out when rumours spread that one Bharat Kothari, who runs a public cattleshed, was killed in his shop situated at the Rishalla area of Deesa town, 28 km from here, police said.

The trouble began when a tempo coming from Rajasthan was on its way to Dhanera town on Sunday evening. A group of Hindu activists led by Kothari and his associates allegedly seized the tempo that was loaded with buffalo calves.

The driver, a minority community member, went to the Deesa rural police station and filed a criminal complaint against Kothari and others, said District Superintendent of Police Banaskantha D N Patel.

As the news of the incident spread, a mob of about 700 people attacked Kothari's shop, ransacked it and looted the cash from the premises.

However, the situation was under control this evening.

An FIR is being filed against the rioters, Mr Patel said.

According to reports reaching here, traders in Deodar, Bhabar and Dantiwada towns of Banaskantha district downed their shutters to express solidarity with Kothari and the Hindu Sangthan in Deesa.

When contacted, Kothari claimed that neither he nor any of his men were involved in the seizure of the tempo. He claimed that his colleague Paresh Panchal and a few others were injured when the mob armed with lathis and swords attacked his shop. Panchal has been injured and rushed to the Lions Club hospital at Mehsana, Kothari said.

District Collector of Banaskantha District R J Patel appealed to people to maintain peace and communal harmony.

UNI XR/PVN OBB AKJ AS1943

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