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Dargah razed, lives lost

Ahmedabad, May 1: A 300-year dargah blocking traffic was today razed in Vadodara, sparking a violent resistance by an angry mob that ended in the deaths of four persons.

Fearing a backlash, the Centre has sent Gujarat an advisory asking it to take all possible steps to ensure things do not get out of hand.

Trouble began this morning when corporation bulldozers rolled into Fatehpura area to pull down the dargah that the minorities wanted declared a heritage structure.

Angry residents turned on civic officials, pelting stones and raising slogans. Police tried to disperse the mob by wielding the cane and lobbing tear gas shells, but were later forced to open fire.

Two died on the spot in the firing and two succumbed to stab injuries later. About 22 people were injured.

Following the deaths, an angry mob torched shops and damaged vehicles, forcing authorities to clamp curfew. It was later extended to five more police station areas.

The demolition is part of an ongoing anti-encroachment drive. “When we removed 20-odd temples, there was no resistance. Then why shouldn’t this structure be demolished'” Vadodara municipal commissioner Rohit Pathak asked.

Minority leaders were sent a notice urging them to pull down the dargah and offered land to relocate. But they refused, saying their faith didn’t allow it.

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