50 arrested for Varanasi violence, security tightened

Varanasi:Nearly 50 persons have been arrested and authorities were maintaining a tight vigil here a day after violence and arson broke out during a march by seers and other local leaders against police action on protesters who were opposing ban on immersion of Ganesha idols in Ganga.

Schools and colleges remained closed today following a direction by Varanasi District Magistrate Rajmani Yadav, traffic was thin and only few tourists were visible in Godowlia area hit by the violence in Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A large contingent of security forces has been deployed in the affected areas. The situation is “under control and peaceful”, said an official here.

Curfew imposed in four police station areas of Varanasi following outbreak of violence yesterday was lifted at around 9 PM last night.

Security forces are combing the affected ares since last night. The number of arrested has risen from 29 to around 50 this morning.

They have been arrested for alleged involvement in arson and brick batting incident, the official said.

25 people, including eight policemen, were injured as protesters went on a rampage, pelting stones and setting afire at least four police vehicles, booths, nearly half-a-dozen motorcycles and some shops. They also hurled crude bomb.

Police had resorted to lathichage and tear gas shelling to disperse the mobs and bring the situation under control.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh last night spoke to Varanasi SSP Akash Kulhari to take stock of the situation and asked him to ensure peace.

Godowlia crossing in the violence-hit area is the main entrance road leading to the ancient Dashashwamedh ghat, and a large number of domestic and foreign tourist visit the area.

However, very few tourists visited the ghats today apparently due to yesterday’s violence. Even the boatmen were conspicuous by their absence with only a small number of boats ferrying people from the ghat here.

Most shops remained shut following the violent incident yesterday.

Lawyers in local district court also boycotted work for the second consecutive day against the police lathicharge on seers and locals on September 22 night when they were staging a dharna at Godowlia crossing here over idol immersion issue.

Violence broke out yesterday as thousands of people, including seers, Congress MLA Ajay Rai along with some other leaders from his party and those from BJP took out the march from Townhall to Dashashwamedh Ghat to protest against the incident of lathicharge.