A public rally held at the Azad Maidan near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus turned violent on Saturday afternoon, killing two people and injuring about 40 others.

The demonstrators were protesting against religious violence in Assam and Myanmar. A number of police and media vehicles were set on fire by the angry mob. The police had to open fire in the air and lathi-charge the mob to bring the situation under control.

Roads that led to Azad Maidan and CST station were blocked. Suburban railway services of the Central and Harbour lines were also disrupted. The State Reserve Police and Riot Control Police were deployed to bring the situation under control.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Pattnaik, who was present at the spot, told media persons that the rally was organised by Raza Academy, a Mumbai-based organisation.

He said that around 1 pm, protestors started to gather for the rally. However, by 3 pm, a few people in the rally started distributing provocative photographs of Assam violence which incensed a section of the crowd, who had come for the rally.

Later, they started pelting stones at the police and the media persons who had gone there to cover the event. The mob soon got out of control and started attacking police vehicles and broadcast vans of TV channels, Pattnaik said.

He added that around 10 BEST buses and six vans were damaged. “Considering there were serial blasts in Pune recently, and Independence Day is also around the corner, we have issued a Red Alert in the city until the situation is entirely under control,” the Commissioner added. Maharashtra’s Home Minister R. R. Patil has appealed to the people to maintain law and order and assured that the violence would be probed.

rahul.wadke@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 11, 2012)
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