Elderly civilian killed, 4 cops injured amid clashes over masjid demolition plan in Gujarat’s Junagadh; 174 detained

A 62-year old civilian was killed and at least four police officials were injured in Gujarat’s Junagadh district Friday night as a mob attacked police personnel who had arrived following a protest over notices issued for the demolition of a masjid, police said. As many as 174 people have been detained in this connection so far.

Addressing a press conference Saturday morning, Junagadh Superintendent of Police (SP) Ravi Teja Vasamsetty said, “A civilian man has died and prima facie death appears to be due to stone pelting but we are awaiting post-mortem report for clarity.” On Saturday noon, Junagadh Range IG MA Chavada  confirmed The Indian Express that the 62-year old died due to stone pelting. “He was an innocent bystander and was not part of the mob.”

The SP said the Junagadh Municipal Corporation had “given notices to Geban Shah Masjid near Majewadi gate on June 14 saying that they have to show relevant papers to JuMC within five days. On June 16, nearly 500-600 people gathered near Majewadi gate, upset over the notices.”

IGP Chavada added that while the notices were dated June 14, the same were pasted on June 16, leading to the violence.

“The DySP, his staff, PI of A-division and B-division police stations of Junagadh, PSIs of A-division, B-division, C-division and LCB were also there at the spot at the time, and they were trying to convince the crowd. Deliberations went on for nearly 45 minutes and the police were also trying to remove the roadblock that the crowd had created. At around 10.15 pm, 2-4 stones were pelted at the police and the crowd came to attack the police while sloganeering, which is when the police lathi-charged to disperse the crowd,” SP Vasamsetty said.

“Five tear gas shells and dye marker grenade shells were used by the police for dispersal of the crowd as well. During this, DySP Junagadh was injured as was PSI Kinjal Maru. Injuries were also sustained by two more PSIs and some other police staff. All are safe and none are critical,” the SP added.

“Six police teams were formed of SOG (special operations group), LCB (local crime branch) and following combing operations through the night, till now 174 people have been detained… The police will do area domination in the entire city of Junagadh and efforts are on to arrest all those who are involved,” SP Vasamsetty added.

IGP Chavada added that an FIR has now been lodged for the offences of unlawful assembly, murder (IPC section 302), attempt to commit murder (IPC section 307), arson (IPC section 435), causing grievous hurt with dangerous weapons (IPC section 326), loss of property by mischief (IPC section 427), criminal conspiracy (IPC section 120B), causing hurt and deterring a public servant from duty (IPC sections 332, 333), assaulting or obstructing public servant when suppressing riot (IPC section 152) and knowingly joining or continuing in assembly of five or more persons after it has been commanded to disperse (IPC section 151). Chavada added that offences under Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act too have been added.