The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shrine vandals anger Gaya

Patna, Jan. 30: Gaya is on edge after miscreants vandalised some shrines in the town late last night. This is the third time in a month that places of worship have been targeted in the town.

Agitated residents took to the streets and staged demonstrations after learning this morning of the vandalism.

Sporadic protests were held across the city through the day. Shops and business establishments remained closed in most areas in apprehension of violence. In some areas, protesters threw stones at passing vehicles.

Official sources said the vandals chose a specific deity of a community and damaged the idols. The broken parts were strewn on the streets. The sight greeted devotees heading for the shrines early in the morning and soon, a spate of anger swept through the town.

Groups of people squatted at various places, shouting slogans. The agitators threatened to take the law into their hands if the administration failed to arrest the miscreants. However, the police clamped down immediately.

District magistrate Brajesh Mehrotra said unidentified criminals tried to foment trouble by damaging the idols late last night.

“This is not the first time this is happening. A thorough investigation has been launched to trace the miscreants involved,” he said.

The town is still in the grip of tension and the administration is not taking any chances. “The situation is still tense but under control,” Mehrotra said, adding that he has sought reinforcements. Paramilitary forces have also been called in.

Riot-control vans such as the Vajra have been requisitioned from the state government to deal with any eventuality.

Gaya had gone into a tizzy twice earlier, after incidents of religious vandalism on December 28 and January 9 on a hill.

The ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal called an all-party meeting this evening and decided to take out a peace march in the town tomorrow. It is learnt that RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav has asked law minister Shakil Ahmed, who is from Gaya, to brief him on the developments.

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