Communal clashes took place in Mira Road, Thane in January hours before the Ram Mandir Consecration. (Image Credits: PTI)
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Shreya Varanasi, Pune

February 21 marked the one month of the communal clashes that took place in Mira Road, Thane district. The Mira Bhayandar Vasai Virar (MBVV) police had registered 16 FIRs (First Information Reports) between January 21 and January 25 concerning the clashes that took place between the Ram Mandir consecration in Ayodhya. So far, the police have arrested 34 people across five stations.

The night before the consecration in Ayodhya, a clash had broken out in the Muslim-dominated Naya Nagar area of Mira Road, Thane district. Reportedly, a group of 10 to 12 people in three cars and as many motorcycles marched on January 21 night, chanting slogans in support of Lord Ram ahead of the Ram Mandir’s inauguration the next day. Firecrackers were allegedly let off during the rally, and another group objected, resulting in a confrontation. 24 people, including three minors, out of the 34 who were arrested on the FIRs registered by the police in this incident. 

The 24 people were booked under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 153(A) (promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion), 341 (wrongful restraint), and 295(A) (outraging religious feelings) along with other sections related to rioting. Out of the 24, three minors were granted bail while the rest are still behind bars. 

In the three days leading up to January 25, the police registered 15 more cases (eight of which were related to vandalism of houses and shops in the vicinity) and made 10 arrests in six of those cases. The Indian Express in their report analyzed the 16 FIRs and found that – 

  • In the January 21 clash, 24 people were arrested including three minors
  • Later, there were FIRs filed related to vandalism or beating of people of a certain community allegedly by the other community. Three men have been arrested in one of these cases while action is awaited in the remaining cases. 
  • In three out of the seven cases of alleged derogatory posts on social media, seven arrests have been made. Meanwhile, in one of the cases of damaging saffron flags, four minors were apprehended. 

MBVV police commissioner Madhukar Pandey in a statement to The Indian Express reacted to the slow progress of the police in the eight vandalism cases. He said that they are currently prioritizing peace and confidence-building between the two communities. He further assured that the team is reviewing the CCTV footage of the offenses and will make the necessary arrests as per the procedure. Further, he also revealed that while the investigation is going on, they have been having daily meetings with political leaders, and members of the community and are visiting mosques.