Cops refused to mediate in row that set off violence: Eyewitness
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The riots in Dhule followed quarrel over a meagre Rs 30 bill for food bought by two youths from a cart vendor in the busy Machchi Bazaar area. According to eyewitnesses, police were approached to solve the dispute, but refused to intervene.
In the violence that followed and spread, the police were singled out for attack and opened firing. While Imran Ali Qamruddin (20), Asim Shaikh (24), Hafiz Asif Abdul Halim (30) and Rizwan Raees Patel (17) were killed, Yunus Abbas Shah, 24, was shot in the neck and is critical. Over 200 people were injured.
Locals claim personnel deployed at the Machchi Bazaar police chowki shooed away the two squabbling sides when they approached them for mediation. "The police should have stopped the fight. Instead, they asked the parties to scoot. The parties brought reinforcements, leading to a clash," eyewitness Mohammed Shafique said. While police said they opened fire after exhausting other avenues, residents accused them of being "trigger-happy" and targeting members of the minority community.
"In 2008, Dhule witnessed the worst riots in its history. The riots continued for one whole week. Even then, the number of bullets fired by the police in a week were less than what was fired on Muslim youths yesterday afternoon," Asif Patel, a social worker in Dhule, said. Located 325 km north of Mumbai, the town is communally sensitive. State government officials said the police were specifically targeted, with Superintendent of Police Pradeep Deshpande suffering a gash on his cheek which required four stitches. Deputy SP Monika Raut reportedly had acid thrown on her. Both the officials were on duty on Monday.
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