Bhiwandi (Maharashtra), July 6: Two policemen and two ordinary citizens were killed and 39 policemen injured on Wednesday evening in a clash between the police and the residents of Nijampura area of Bhiwandi, about 65 km from Mumbai in Thane district. The trouble erupted over the construction of a police station on land adjacent to a graveyard and the biggest mosque in the city. This has now been stopped for the time being.
Among the injured are two deputy commissioners of police.
Thane police commissioner D. Shivanandan said that no arrests had been made in connection with the clashes as yet, and that investigations were still on. “Arrests will be made only after the investigations are over,” he said.
Angry residents forced the closure of all shops in the area on Thursday.
Mr Nazir Ahmed, a local resident, said the trouble erupted at around 9 pm on Wednesday when two police constables deployed near the Rajiv Gandhi flyover in Bhiwandi were stoned by an angry mob, which also burnt seven State transport buses. The crowd was retaliatingagainst the police firing which had taken place on Wednesday afternoon, during which two people had been killed.
Trouble had been brewing in this Muslim-dominated area over the construction of a police station and offices for two assistant commissioners of police in the 2,500 square metre area, which has been owned by the police since 1920. It is adjacent to the Paanch Peer Kabrastan near Quarter Gate Masjid. This reporter walked nearly 1.5 km from Dhamankar Naka in Bhiwandi to reach the Quarter Gate Masjid, as autorickshaws, which are a key mode of travel in Bhiwandi, were not willing to go there. However, people could be seen moving around the locality in their private vehicles.
“The police had started construction work in March. Since then we were having our silent protests against the issue to stop the construction work. On Monday we had protested by sitting in dharna at the Azad Maidan. On Wednesday too we had a silent protest in front of the construction work, and the policemen went berserk and started lathicharging us. They had also lathicharged those people who were performing their prayers on the road,” alleged Mr Ghulam Ansari, convenor of the Bhiwandi Public Action Committee.
Mr Ansari added: “The police should have held a public meeting and notified people before undertaking such major construction work. We would not allow any sort of construction near the graveyard as it is a religious place for us.”