Tension was simmering in Chhota Udepur town of Vadodara district on Tuesday evening as groups of two communities clashed and reportedly set two offices and a godown on fire.
The situation escalated this afternoon after the two communities pelted stones, injuring a DSP and a local reporter among others, the previous evening.
Around 3 pm, a mob set alight a godown full of paper and metal scrap on Vachhedi-Joj road, about two km from the town. This was followed by ransacking of offices of two dolomite factories in the same area. Sources said mobs looted the offices before setting them alight.
“Fire-fighters are trying to control the blaze at godown and at the other places. Groups are still running riots in the area,” a top police officer told The Indian Express over phone.
“This is escalation of clashes the previous evening when groups had indulged in stone-pelting near Circuit House,” Chhota Udepur Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) K R Bhuva said.
Bhuva himself was hit on his feet by stones while trying to disperse the mobs.
The rioters had also targeted a reporter of a vernacular daily, snatching away his video-camera and and a gold chain. The rival groups had come out on streets after a truck hit another truck parked near Circuit House.
“The situation is totally under control. One company of SRP (state reserve police) is on its way to Chhota Udepur from Walia in Bharuch. We have also sought one more company,” Vadodara district superintendent of police (SP) Sandeep Singh said, adding that additional police forces were also sought from neighbouring Dahod, Panchamahals, Bharuch and Narmada districts.
Vadodara range IG Sashikant Trivedi and other top police officers had reached the town and were monitoring the situation.
Police said there were no reports of any casualty or injury till evening.
The tribal town, which has mixed population of minority community members and tribals, has witnessed stray incidents of clashes since February 3 when Jenti Rathva, sarpanch of Baroj village, was assaulted. A few days ago, residents of Atroli village were also attacked in the town.
The atmosphere in the town was charged since the morning as results of Chhota Udepur Municipality were announced. Congress retained power, winning 11 of the 22 seats against four of BJP. The rest six seats went to Independents.
Police sources said that despite the incidents of arson, the town remained calm by and large.