VHP-Cops clash in Varanasi: Violence was pre-planned, say police

Varanasi: The violence and arson that rocked this holy city on Monday was “pre-planned” and the reason for instigation is being looked into, police said on Tuesday.

“We have evidence to say that it was pre-planned. What or who instigated them is being investigated,” SSP Akash Kulhari said on Tuesday while referring to yesterday’s violent incidents which left 25 people, including 8 policemen, injured and lot of property destroyed.

He said the saints who participated in the protest march that turned violent have been named in the FIR in their capacity as organisers, besides taking note of their actions in the run-up to the violence.

The protest march was led by Swami Avimukteshwaranand and included Ajay Rai and another Congress leader Rajesh Pati Tripathi, BJP MLC Laxman Acharya and his party leaders Sadhvi Prachi, MLA Ravindra Jaiswal and Shyam Deo Roy Chaudhaury.

Kulhari said the FIR was registered pertaining to sections of rioting, obstructing police in discharge of duty, damage to public and private property under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Meanwhile, some arrested youngsters claimed that they were returning home from their work and police arrested them citing their involvement in the violence.

However, the SSP denied this, saying the arrests have been made as per the CCTV and video footages.

A photo journalist Sanjay Gupta associated with a leading national daily sustained head injury and is undergoing treatment in a private hospital here. A few other journalists and camerapersons also received minor injuries.

Gupta claimed before mediapersons that he was beaten up by a group of policemen and his two cameras were broken by them as he clicked the act of 3-4 policemen torching a motorbike.

To support his claims, Gupta presented few photographs.

Kulhari, who met him on Tuesday in the hospital, denied Gupta’s allegation, saying the photographs didn’t confirm the acts of policemen torching a motorbike.

He added that if he has any video or any such video surfaces, he would take strict action against the guilty policemen.

Gupta told PTI that his camera was snatched and crushed by policemen and that a group of 20 policemen including PAC personnel beat him up brutally with their lathis.

District Magistrate Rajmani Yadav said that schools and colleges, which were closed on Tuesday, will open tomorrow.

At least a dozen companies of PAC, Rapid Action Force and police forces from neighbouring districts have been deployed in Varanasi to maintain peace.

Police claimed that all shops were open and the situation was normal with security personnel deployed at each and every intersection, besides mobile patrolling.

However, locals at Godowlia claimed that the situation of panic still prevailed and some shops remained closed on Tuesday.