People from Gujarat may have crossed over, says panel chief

State Minorities Commission chairman Munaf Hakeem on Wednesday said there was a possibility that people from Gujarat crossed over the border and instigated violence on January 6 in Dhule. Dhule borders Gujarat and the riots in the district 10 days ago claimed six lives, all local Muslims.

Interacting with The Indian Express editorial staff, Hakeem said, "Our investigations have found out that there has been no involvement of any local organisation in the riots. There is possibility that people crossed over from the border from Gujarat to instigate violence and this angle needs to be probed."

Hakeem said during his interaction with the riot affected people many had claimed that people from outside their region had led the violence. "In many cases, people wearing police uniforms were seen destroying property. The judicial commission investigating the Dhule riots needs to inquire whether they were genuine policemen," he said. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan ordered a judicial commission after his Dhule visit on Tuesday.

The Minorities Commission that surveyed the localities and houses targeted in Dhule found the use of freshly-baked red bricks. "There are no brick-making units in the nearby vicinity," Hakeem said. Houses of both Hindus and Muslims along the fish market were damaged, he said, adding that the objects used for attacking these houses were the same. "Broken glass collected from the areas were of the same kind and indicate the same group indulged in the attack," he pointed out.

The commission chairman dismissed that acid was used to fuel the riots. Hakeem said, "I personally visited the hospitals and could not find a single case of acid burns." The final report would shed light on all these issues, he added.

Besides claiming six lives, the Dhule riots left 200 injured after members of two communities clashed over a Rs 30 bill for a lunch at a roadside vendor.

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