Violent clashes over re-opening of a religious place near Karontha village of Rohtak district on Sunday, left at least two persons dead and nearly 115 including four dozen police personnel injured.
The police had to use force to disperse an angry mob, which went on a rampage torching public and private property.
Trouble ensued when a few thousand villagers owing allegiance to the Arya Samaj gathered at a temple in the morning and began their march to oppose the opening of the controversy ridden Satlok Ashram along the Roktak-Jhajjar Road. Before the villagers reached the ashram the police attempted to stop the protestors, who began pelting stones. Initially, the police resorted to a cane charge and lobbing of tear gas shells, which went in vain. Finally the police fired in the air to disperse the crowd that had set ablaze four State owned buses, an ambulance and half a dozen two wheelers.
Of the two dead, who were yet to be identified, at least one had sustained bullet injuries. The Inspector General of Police of Rohtak Range, Anil Rao, has been quoted as saying that one the victims died in the clash between Arya Samaj protestors and ashram followers. The head of the ashram Sant Rampal was said to have been away when the clash occurred.
According to last reports, though the police succeeded to disperse the protestors from the spot close to the ashram, they had regrouped in a local school and called for decisive action. The Rohtak district police chief, Vivek Sharma, who was on the spot, has requisitioned additional deployment of police force. While no arrests have been reported to be made, the injured have been shifted to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS).
The Satlok Ashram was scheduled to reopen following orders of the Supreme Court, recently, which had decreed the maintenance of ‘status quo’ till the case was decided at the High Court level. Arya Samaj activists have been opposing the ashram on counts of hurting religious sentiments and encouraging ‘objectionable’ activities.
Previously, during the clash in 2006, one person had died when Arya Samaj activists and ashram followers came face to face. The ashram chief was arrested and released on bail after 22 months. On intervention by the civil and district administration the ashram was shifted to another village, initiating a long legal tussle between the two sections of the population