The clash took place at Waghodia on Wednesday. (Express Photo by Bhupendra Rana)
The Waghodia police in Vadodara arrested eight persons belonging to two communities on Thursday, following a clash over a petty issue of currency change late on Wednesday night. The eight persons who have been arrested have been booked under charges of rioting and damage to property. The town in Vadodara district saw mobs from two communities clash on Wednesday night after a group of Hindu youths had a quarrel with a Muslim soda vendor. Police say that the presence of large number of Muslims in the area owing to the first night of Ramzan created some misconceptions and led to clash.
On Thursday afternoon, Waghodia, located about 35 km from Vadodara city, wore a deserted look. The heavy police presence served as a reminder of the late night clash, along with glass shreds on the roads where the damaged soda handcart stood. Across the road, amid a life-size poster of Lord Rama and the saffron flags across the market area, stands the local Masjid, sharing its wall with a local temple. But what could well be a symbol of communal harmony, turned into a scene of mob violence and riot.
According to the police, the incident occurred shortly after 10:30 pm when a group of Hindu boys went to have soda from a Muslim vendor. Police say that the group and the vendor got into an argument over tendering change for the order. Superintendent of Police Saurabh Tolumbia said, “The quarrel essentially occurred between the group and the vendor. No one else was involved. But the large presence of Muslims on account of the first night of Ramzan gave the group of boys an impression that they were being cornered. So, they called their friends. Soon, mobs from both communities gathered and a clash broke out.”
While the rural police teams from the Crime Branch and Special Operations Group rushed to the spot to assist the Waghodia police, the mob resorted to stone-pelting and attacked each other. The mob was eventually dispersed and heavy police security deployed in the area. Tolumbia said the the police also held a peace meeting between the two communities on Thursday to clear the misconceptions about the clash. Tolumbia said, “We held a peace committee meeting in the area in the presence of community leaders. The misconception that the youth were cornered was also addressed. Since it was the first day of Ramzan, the Muslim youth had also come out in large numbers. The area has been peaceful today.”