Communal clashes engulfed the Akbarpura area of Khambhat, in the coastal region of Gujarat’s Anand district, on February 23. Around 13 people were injured and more than 30 shops, ten houses and several vehicles were set ablaze in the incident.
The clash broke out between two groups with heavy stone-pelting from both sides, at Akbarpura, a locality in Khambat Taluka. Subsequently, the violence spread to the neighbouring areas of Lal Darwaza, Boi Wadi, Teen Batti, Bhavsarwad and the area around the local bus stand. It lasted for more than two hours before police curbed the mob.
The police resorted to lathi charge and lobbed tear-gas to control the mob. The cause of the clash is not known yet. Akbarpura, a slum surrounded by a bus stand on one side and a railway track on the other, is a communally sensitive area where small-scale communal scuffles are not uncommon. A majority of its residents belong to the Kharwa or Machimar community and the area has both Hindu and Muslim residents.
“A large contingent of the district police force including the district’s Superintendent of Police has been roped in for the ‘Namaste Trump’ event in Ahmedabad. However, the situation is under control now,” said Divya Meena, Superintendent of Police of the Kheda district, who has additional charge of Anand. Meena added that one company of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) has been deployed in the area. “We have arrested 46 people whose role in the violence is being investigated. The reason behind the clash is still unknown,” he said.
On January 24 this year, a communal riot had broken out in Akbarpura in which several persons were injured and an old man died after being hit by a bullet. At the time, a fight between two groups during the kite-flying festival of Uttarayan flared up into a communal clash. The police had to fire six rounds in the air and lobbed 25 tear-gas shells to control the mob. Fifteen police personnel were injured in the incident.
In February 2019, another communal clash had flared up in Akbarpura when two groups of children got into a petty feud. The police fired seven rounds in the air and lobbed tear-gas shells to restore order. One police personnel had been injured during the riots then. In the same month, some persons from two communities clashed in the Teen Darwaza area near Akbarpura over a social media post about the Pulwama attack.