Police fire in air to disperse mobs in Surat

Surat, July 19 (Calcutta Tube) Police had to fire in the air in this Gujarat city to disperse mobs after a minor skirmish between migrant labourers and autorickshaw drivers turned into a violent clash Monday. As many as 150 people have been arrested.

‘The situation is tense but under control,’ Superintendent of Police Kesrisinh Bhatti said.

Trouble began when some labourers from Orissa who live in a major concentration at Laskana, about 10 km from here, objected to the sudden hike in autorickshaw fares. This led to arguments and a scuffle in which the labourers were manhandled by autorickshaw drivers collected at the spot.

Since most of the autorickshaws in the area are owned by the ‘Bharvad (shepherd)’ community, the fight soon turned into a confrontation between the two communities. Since the area is home to an almost 35,000 strong Oriya community, the others soon found themselves outnumbered and called in police, who also faced violence from the migrants.

At least two autorickshaws were completely smashed and six police motorcycles damaged in the violence. Two policemen were also injured.

‘We had to call in reinforcements and fired 25 teargas shells but when it failed to bring the situation under control, 12 rounds were fired in the air to disperse the rampaging mobs,’ police said, adding no one was injured in the firing. ‘Patrolling has been intensified and we are keeping a watch,’ police added.

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