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Picnic clash injures dozen

Hazaribagh, Jan.1: A single stone thrown at the headlights of a bike at a New Year picnic brought forth the violence simmering underneath the pleasant ‘family atmosphere’ on the banks of Siwane river, 17km from the city, the ensuing clash leaving 12 persons injured and two vehicles gutted.

Trouble brewed around 4.30pm on the riverbanks where some 400 picnickers, including women and children, when a group of drunken youths alleged someone had aimed a stone at one of their bikes. Though others tried to pacify them, saying a child might have thrown the stone by mistake, two warring sides from Pabra (Katsamsandi block) and Bonga (Ichak block) emerged.

As tempers rose, picnickers started beating each other up, throwing utensils and food. Finally, matters came to a pass where a bike, a scooter, two music systems and a generator set were set ablaze.

As news spread, mukhiya of Ichak Bhagwat Prasad and panchayat samiti member Umesh Kumar Mehta went to pacify the warring groups, but were thrashed mercilessly.

A 20-member armed police team from Katsamsandi thana reached the spot within 5pm and brought matters under control.

The 12 injured were first rushed to sadar hospital, where Prasad and Mehta were referred to RIMS, Ranchi, for treatment. No one has been arrested yet, but police have said that they are identifying the drunken youths who started and then fanned the clash. Police are recording the statements of the injured in the hospital.

Representatives of zilla parishad have announced a roadblock on Ranchi-Patna highway (NH-33) tomorrow.

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