By TCN Special Correspondent,
Lucknow : Once again, the old city of Lucknow fell victim to sectarian violence during Muharram procession on Friday. Both Shia and Sunni communities which live in complete harmony throughout the year came face to face and resorted to slogan shouting and stone pelting. The violence which left the city of nawabs with its head hanging in shame also left three injured.
On Yauma-e-Ashura the 10th day of Muharram on Friday the heavy security arrangements by the police failed to preempt sectarian clash. Two incidents of the clash were reported this year in old city on Friday. The simmering tension between two sects sparked again on Saturday morning with supporters of two sects indulged in clash in Sadatganj area. A total of three persons were reported injured in the clash during the 24 hours.
As per report, at around 5pm on Friday, when Shia devotees were returning from Talkatora Karbala, they were instigated by objectionable slogans being raised by some Sunni supporters at Akbari gate. The Sunnis were also on the road after a jalsa. Despite huge presence of police force on the road, the duo sects continued hurling slogans on one another and later indulged in stone pelting.
Eyewitnesses claimed that several persons received injuries by stones. There were reports that one of the group indulged into firing in air also. People were seen running for cover with lanes on the both side of the roads which were already completely packed with supporters.
On information that the situation was going out of control, additional number of cops along with RAF and PAC jawans were dispatched to the place to control the mob. DIG/ SSP Lucknow DK Thakur, ASP West ADM City and several other officials also reached the place and took the control in their hand. Following the police intervention and mild lathi charge, the irate mob was dispelled.
A few hours after another procession was allowed to proceed further. When the procession reached at Pul Gulam Husain, a group of supporters of Sunni sect raised disparaging slogans inviting the former to react.
Both the group indulged in fighting and stone pelting on one another. Also there was rumor that a youth had fell to the bullet of rampaging mob.
Two persons identified as Reyaz Haider and Taj suffered injuries in the clash and were admitted to the hospital. The police, however, denied the incident and said that the situation was tense but was under control.
The simmering tension took an ugly turn on Saturday morning, when a man identified as Istiaq of Takia Haji Ali in Kashmiri Mohalla was reportedly attacked by a group of other sect. Istiaq was standing at a fair price shop where he had gone for some work and the other group started hurling disparaging slogans on him.
When Istiaq reacted, youth of other group bashed him up and later attacked with a knife. "Istiaq had an injury, inflicted by a knife at his cheek and he is admitted to the hospital," his family claimed.
Contrary to Istiaq's family claim, the police denied any such incident. The situation is tense in Akbari gate, Pul Gulam Husain, Kasmiri Mohalla, Patanala, Chowk and other densely populated locality of Old Lucknow. Huge number of police force are marching in the area and patrolling in the lanes.
The officials said that the situation was under control. They said barring the incident reported in Kasmiri Mohalla, the day passed peacefully. They said minimal traffic restriction/ diversions were imposed during the day hours.
Meanwhile, a meeting of religious clerics from both the sects--Sunnis and Shias-- was held with district administration on Saturday. The clerics demanded that culprits who are behind the violence on Friday (Moharram-10th) should be identified and legal action should be taken against them.
The meeting which was convened by District Magistrate (DM) AK Sagar was attended by Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, Maulana Hameedul Hasan ,Maulana Ali Nasir Saeed Abaqati and Agha Roohi from shia sect while Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahli and Maulana Ahmed Adeeb represented Sunni sect.
After the meeting the clerics issued a jointly signed statement requesting the administration for taking action against the perpetrators of violence on Friday. They also appealed for maintaining peace and not giving air to to rumors. They also appealed to the Muslims for not taking any such step which may vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of the city. "If there is any such incident which results in tension, the district and police administration should be informed and no one should get involved in it directly," read the joint statement by the Maulanas.
The Maulanas later also met their supporters individually and urged them to maintain peace. They stated that no such step should be taken which may hurt the sentiments of other sects.