Ranchi tense as 2 die in clashes amid row over Prophet remark


Jharkhand’s capital city remained tense and in virtual shutdown on Saturday with heavy police presence in sensitive areas, a day after widespread violence that led to the death of two persons and left eight others with serious injuries.

The injured continue to receive treatment at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS). At least one of them, identified as Nadeem Ansari, is in critical condition and battling for his life.

No untoward incident was reported from any part of the city on Saturday as security was beefed up across the state capital. With heavy police presence, streets across the capital remained deserted through the day as all markets were closed, except medical establishments and petrol pumps. Few vehicles were seen on the roads. Auto rickshaws started plying only in the afternoon.

The violence-hit Mahatma Gandhi Road was barricaded and manned by personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force and Rapid Action Force. Security personnel conducted flag marches in the area.

Internet services remained suspended for an indefinite period and curfew was extended from Mahatma Gandhi Road on Friday evening to 12 police station limits of the state capital on Saturday.

Police would assess the situation on Sunday before taking a call on lifting prohibitory orders as well resuming internet services, officials said.

The last rites of the two deceased, Mohammad Mudassir Kaifi, a resident of Hindpirhi, and Mohammad Sahil, a resident of Karbala Tank Road, were conducted on Saturday at different cemeteries under the administration’s watch, said a police officer.

A total 14 policemen also received injuries in the clashes on Mahatma Gandhi Road after Friday prayers, police said. As many as 13 persons were brought for treatment at RIMS on Friday evening, officials said.

“Of the 13, three were discharged after required treatment from the emergency itself. Two succumbed to their injuries on Saturday night,” said Dr. Hirendra Birua, superintendent, RIMS. “Eight others, including one policeman, are currently under treatment in different wards. One person is critical. He is under treatment in the trauma centre and is currently on ventilator.”

Birua declined to dwell on the nature of injuries to the deceased and injured. “Bodies of the two deceased was handed over to their families after post mortem by a medical board. We can’t reveal the findings at this stage as it is confidential,” he said. “The injured are being treated in different wards as per the nature of their injuries.”

Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren on Saturday ordered a probe into the violence that rocked Ranchi, an official said.

A two-member committee, comprising Indian Administrative Service officer Amitabh Kaushal, and additional director general of police Sanjay Latkar, was formed to investigate the violence, the official told PTI news agency. The panel will have to submit its report to the state government in a week, he said.

A special investigation team has also been set up to probe the incident, Ranchi’s deputy inspector general Anish Gupta said.

The injured and the deceased received bullet injuries after police opened fire on Friday evening people started protesting against remarks made by former spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Navin Kumar Jindal of the Bharatiya Janata Party, their family members told Hindustan Times at the hospital.

Of the four protesters being treated in the intensive care unit ward of the surgery department at RIMS, one of them, Mohammed Afsar, told Hindustan Times that he was hit by six bullets during the police firing at the clash site near Daily Market crossroad.

“I was standing near the parking stand next to the Hanuman temple when police opened fire. I have bullet injuries in both my legs. Doctors have pulled out four bullets while two more are to be extracted,” said Afsar, who had no other visible injury in upper part of his body.

The other three protesters under treatment on beds next to Afsar also had injuries in the lower part of their bodies.

Mamum Ansari, father of Tabaraq Ansari, another protester under treatment, said his 22-year-old son has bullet injuries. “He has bullet injury just under his waist. Doctors said bullets pierced through his body and he is out of danger. He got the bullet injury near Daily market. He was first taken to Anjuman hospital and from there to RIMS,” said Ansari. “I didn’t know why he had gone there. Tabaraq himself called his cousin, who works in Bariatu, on phone and informed about his injury. It is then that we got to know about it.”

Mamum Ansari is an electrician and resident of Karbala Tank Road area off the Mahatma Gandhi road in Ranchi, which was epicentre of the violent protest on Friday. His injured son is a cellphone mechanic.

Surendra Jha, senior superintendent of police at Ranchi, who was under 24-hour observation at a private hospital as he sustained injuries during the protest, said police was in the process of filing first information reports against the protesters.

“Action would be taken against those who instigated the violence. Fourteen of our men were injured. Today we were busy in keeping the situation under control. Now we are in the process of filing FIRs,” Jha said. “All who had a role in instigating violence would be booked. We are scanning the footages from CCTV cameras, drone cameras. We will also seek help of media houses for footage and pictures.”

On allegations that protesters have received bullet injuries due to indiscriminate police firing, Jha said he was not denying that police opened fire, but the protesters forced them to do so.

“Our men were targeted. It was the protesters who first fired at us,” he claimed. “And the crowd was not willing to relent. Police was forced to fire in self-defence.”

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