Mumbai/Thane | The Thane district of Maharashtra has been rocked by a fresh incident of vandalism as unidentified individuals targeted shops, escalating the ongoing clashes following the consecration of Lord Ram's idol in Ayodhya, officials said on Wednesday.
This act of aggression comes in the wake of heightened tensions in the area, where celebratory processions and commercial establishments have been the target of violence.
In a swift response, local police have apprehended two individuals in connection with the recent vandalism with authorities hoping that such measures would help in restoration of peace at the earliest in the region.
Thane, a district with a history of religious and cultural significance, has recently been marred by incidents of unrest, posing significant challenges to the local administration.
As the situation unfolds, authorities remain on high alert, working to prevent further escalations and ensure the safety of residents and businesses in the area.
On Tuesday night, unidentified persons vandalised some shops in Kashimira, Naya Nagar and Navghar areas of the district neighbouring Mumbai, police said.
Notably, the Muslim-dominated Naya Nagar locality witnessed a communal clash three days back.
A video which went viral on social media showed some persons on motorbikes throwing stones at the shops.
The shops in these areas were damaged following which the police registered an FIR against unidentified persons, an official from Mira-Bhayander, Vasai-Virar police said.
The police were looking for CCTV footage to ascertain the identity of the perpetrators, he said.
Two persons have also been arrested by the police following an attack on a procession in Borivali village of Padgha area in the district on Monday, another official said.
The victims, travelling on motorcycles and on foot as part of the procession, were allegedly intercepted and assaulted by a group of nearly 15 armed individuals using iron rods, wooden sticks, and sharp objects.
The attackers also vandalised several motorcycles and tore a saffron flag bearing the image of Lord Ram, the official from Padgha police station said.
The police have registered offences under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and have apprehended two of the accused, he said.
The hunt is going on for the remaining individuals involved in the incident, the police added.
Earlier, members of two communities clashed during a vehicle rally organised in Naya Nagar on Sunday night following which 13 people were taken in custody.
On Tuesday, "illegal" roadside stalls in Naya Nagar area were demolished by the local civic body using bulldozers, officials said. The action was taken a day after Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis warned of strict action against rioters.
On Monday, a procession taken out in Mira Road area of Thane district on the occasion of the Ram temple idol consecration in Ayodhya was pelted with stones by miscreants.
An official said strict vigil was being maintained and a flag march was conducted by police on Tuesday in Naya Nagar.
The situation in the area is now normal even as heavy police security remains deployed there. Shops, schools and other establishments in the locality have opened, he said.
The police have appealed to the people not to pay heed to any provocative videos.
The Mira-Bhayandar, Vasai-Virar police have warned of strict legal action against those spreading rumours on social media through fake messages, saying they can create law and order problems and disturb peace.
Administrators of social media groups will also face action in such matters, they said.
The police issued a note, referring to what they called a fake video message that has been “mischievously” edited with the claim that some anti-social elements had set afire the Mira Road railway station.
Urging citizens to exercise caution, the note said the fake video has gone viral on social media and is being shared on WhatsApp.
Citizens should neither believe in such fake messages nor circulate them, said the note.