BJP workers rain blows on JMM supporters at Hinoo Chowk in Ranchi on Saturday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, Aug. 23: Life came to a standstill in the heart of the state capital for over an hour this morning when BJP supporters escorting Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar from the airport clashed with a section of protesting JMM workers at Hinoo Chowk, Dhurwa.
At least nine persons — two policemen and seven JMM workers — were injured in the incident while the BJP suffered no casualty, triggering a roadblock by the JMM that led to traffic snarls and left commuters fuming.
Trouble started around 10.15am when some BJP workers on bikes, who were leading the motorcade of Union minister of labour, mines and steel Tomar and his minister of state Vishnu Deo Sai from Birsa Munda Airport, spotted 50-odd JMM workers standing at Hinoo Chowk with black flags.
The JMM supporters were protesting against the jeering of chief minister Hemant Soren at a function attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
Angry BJP workers stopped at the spot and snatched the black flags from the JMM workers, some of whom fled while others chose to put up a fight, in the presence of party leader and Ranchi MLA C.P. Singh. For the next 10 minutes or so, Hinoo Chowk, which is under Dhurwa police station, resembled a battlefield as the BJP supporters, who were around 250 in number, chased their rivals, who were lying on the road to block the Union minister’s car, which was still a few kilometres away. Some of the JMM workers were beaten up with flag sticks.
Officer-in-charge of Jagannathpur police station Ratan Kumar Singh, who was deputed at the chowk, rushed to intervene, but he himself sustained injuries on his hands and feet after being hit by a vehicle belonging to Tomar’s cavalcade. Hatia DSP Nisha Murmu’s bodyguard, Arwind Singh, was also injured.
Among the JMM protestors, Ashutosh Kumar, Ezaz Shah, Tarkeshwar Mahto, Chintamani Sanga, Madhu Tirkey, Mantu Lala and Rina Tirkey were hurt.
Except Shah, who was admitted to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences with head injuries, the others sustained minor injuries.
The clash stopped only after the minister’s car, accompanied by over 100 vehicles carrying leaders and supporters from the BJP’s city unit, crossed the roundabout.
But the situation was far from normal as JMM workers poured into the street to protest the assault on their comrades, blocking Hinoo Chowk and disrupting vehicular movement on Ranchi-Dhurwa Road.
Some vented their ire on passing vehicles and smashed the windscreen of an auto, compelling passengers to alight.
Reacting to the resentment expressed by commuters and local residents about the lawlessness on roads, some JMM leaders intervened and convinced their comrades to lift the blockade as it would show the government, which was being run by their party, in poor light. The agitation was called off around 11.10am.
Later, the JMM gave a written complaint to the officer-in-charge of Doranda police station, S.K. Srivastav. Signed by JMM city unit spokesperson Rajesh Singh, it blamed C.P. Singh, BJP workers Ajit Das, Rajesh Singh, Kunal Singh, Ajit Singh, Rakesh Sharma, Sunil Sharma and Sanjay Jaiswal and other BJP supporters for the violence.
SP (city) Anoop Birtharay promised to draw up an FIR on the basis of the complaint. “An FIR ought to be filed as a clash took place and the city remained disturbed,” he said.
Hatia DSP Murmu said: “The BJP workers, who outnumbered the JMM supporters, were uncontrollable. They did not even pay heed to the police.”
Asked to comment on the issue, Tomar maintained that a chief minister should have patience and that the ruling party should not behave like the Opposition.
“Whenever Union ministers come, they will give something to the state. Thus protesting against them is not good. As far as the incident of hooting at Thursday’s rally is concerned, I have heard that no slogan was raised against the chief minister. However, if the Jharkhand government wants to behave like the Opposition, then people will give a fitting reply,” he said.
BJP also registered an FIR at Doranda police station, naming JMM leaders Antu Tirkey, Arun Verma and Mintu Choubey besides unknown persons.
Chief minister Hemant Soren, in a press statement, asked workers of both the parties to be patient. “For the state’s development, it is necessary to have a peaceful atmosphere and proper law and order. No one has the right to take law in his hand,” the statement said.