Mumbai: A BJP delegation will meet Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Sunday to demand the arrest of those involved in the violence that broke out at Azad Maidan on Saturday as demonstrators gathered to protest against the recent Assam riots.
Though initially peaceful, the protest, that had been called in by Raza Academy, suddenly turned violent with miscreants setting afire vehicles, torching media vans, damaging buses and pelting stones.
Two people lost their lives while 46 are said to have been injured in the violence. Out of the injured, three are civilians while 38 are policemen who have suffered serious injuries. Two constables are said to be missing.
Nearly three media OB vans, three police vehicles and two motorcycles were set on fire, said police. "Forty BEST (civic) buses, two four-wheelers and five two-wheelers were damaged in stone pelting," they added. Reports said that some shops at the CST railway station subway were also attacked.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Crime Branch has been ordered to probe the incident.
On Sunday morning, there was an eerie calm all over the place.
Azad Maidan, a regular venue for protests, is located near local civic body headquarters and Mumbai CST railway station. The area wore a deserted look as policemen cordoned off the locality and patrolled the streets following the violent incidents.
Meanwhile, a high alert has been sounded across the state as the violence comes ahead of Independence Day.
Chief Minister Chavan said, "A statewide alert has been issued to ensure there is no adverse fallout of the incident. CRPR, Rapid Action Force and the state police have been deployed at sensitive locations. The crime branch will probe just how the situation suddenly took a violent turn."
He said that certain "anti-social elements" caused the damage to public and private property.
"I appeal to all not to believe in rumours," he added.
Meanwhile, newly appointed Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde condemned the violence and said that he had ordered the police to take action against rumour-mongers.
"We have alerted the police forces across the country and have asked them to act against whoever spreads false information. I talked to the Maharashtra CM and the Deputy CM and also to the Commissioner of Police. Two deaths have been reported and 46 have been injured out of which, 36 are policemen. I condemn the attack on media also," he said.
He continued, "The Assam situation has been quiet for the last three days. I request people not to give any false information."
"If anybody is found giving out false reports, they will be very roughly and ruthlessly dealt with. I have already instructed that," he added.
Reportedly, 26 rounds of bullets were fired by the police along with 30 tear gas shells to control the massive crowd that went berserk. Suburban train operations were halted for 20 minutes as a mob entered the CST station.
(With additional information from PTI)