Police in India’s northwestern city of Jodhpur imposed curfews on ten districts and ordered a city-wide internet blockage on Tuesday in an effort to quell a riot between local Muslims and Hindus that erupted on Monday, the Hindustan Times reported.
Jodhpur’s police force resorted to the security measures after clashes between Hindus and Muslims broke out at the city’s Jalori Gate area in the early morning hours of May 2. The altercation began after a group of Muslims allegedly raised an Islamic flag near a statue in the Jalori Gate area of Jodhpur, which is located in India’s Rajasthan state.
“Members of the minority [Muslim] community were installing Eid flags and they put up a flag on a roundabout alongside the statue of [Indian] freedom fighter Balmukund Bissa,” the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported on May 3.
“This led to a confrontation as the other [Hindu] community alleged that … a saffron flag they had put up there ahead of Parshuram Jayanti [a Hindu holiday], had gone missing,” according to the news agency.
Some Hindu nationalist groups in India have adopted a saffron-colored flag as one of their symbols in recent years.
The argument between Muslims and Hindus in Jodhpur’s Jalori Gate area just after midnight on May 2 “gave way to scuffles and stone pelting,” local police officers told the Hindustan Times on May 3.
“Four policemen and three people sustained minor injuries as security personnel used teargas shells to disperse the mob and later barricaded the entire Jalori Gate area,” according to the newspaper.
The melee near Jalori Gate eventually calmed down due to police intervention on May 2 but unfortunately reignited on the morning of May 3.
“Violence resurfaced on Tuesday morning [May 3] after … stone pelting was reported from the area again, forcing the authorities to clamp curfew in 10 police station areas of Jodhpur [sic],” the Hindustan Times reported citing local government officials. “Mobile internet services were blocked in the early hours of Tuesday in ten localities. They were extended to the entire city later in the day.”
The violence near Jalori Gate on May 3 was directed toward nearby police stations, according to an Al Jazeera reporter on the ground in Jodhpur at the time named Elizabeth Puranam.
“Police tried to disperse the crowds using batons and tear gas. The crowd then attacked a police post and injured four officers,” Al Jazeera quoted Puranam as saying.
Jodhpur’s police force arrested 50 people as of Tuesday for their involvement in the riots on May 2 and May 3, Rajasthan State Minister Rajendra Yadav told reporters. He further revealed that as many as 18 people had been hospitalized as of May 3 for injuries sustained during the mob violence.
Muslims in Jodhpur on May 3 were celebrating Eid, which is a holiday marking the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. The holiday coincided with a Hindu festival on May 3 called Parshuram Jayanti. Jodhpur’s population of 1.03 million is 76.98 percent Hindu and 19.30 percent Muslim according to India’s latest census data from 2011.