Mumbai, Feb. 10: More than 60 people were injured after an enraged mob, protesting against the detention of two butchers, clashed with police in the Nizampur area of Bhiwandi in Thane district early today.
Trouble in the communally sensitive area erupted when two butchers, towing along some cows and bulls for the Bakri-Id qurbani, were stopped and detained by the police acting on a complaint reportedly filed by Bajrang Dal activists.
The Dal, however, claimed an NGO working for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had filed the petition to release the animals.
As the police started interrogating the two butchers, an irate mob gathered outside the Thane police station demanding that the men and animals be released and started pelting stones.
According to the police, the clash was triggered by the crowd that would not be pacified even after senior members of the community urged them to calm down.
As the situation got increasingly volatile, the police retaliated with 13 rounds of fire and resorted to lathicharge.
The pitched battle lasted more than two hours and over two dozen police personnel were injured.
The Thane district administration has rushed five SRP platoons, along with a large posse of policemen, to control and monitor the situation.
Prohibitory orders, clamped soon after the incident, were lifted later in the day. Police arrested more than 10 suspects and are interrogating several others.
Sources in Thane police point to the large number of soda bottles at the site of the incident as evidence that violence had been triggered by the mob.
District police commissioner S.M. Shangari said the situation was tense but under control. We are, however, taking no chances and have arranged for additional security forces to patrol the area, he added.
Following fears of renewed violence during Bakri-Id, security has been tightened in the district and its neighbouring areas.