Mehsana: There is tension in Mehsana district of Gujarat after two people were killed and over 20 injured in communal violence.

A mob, which had assembled at a temple for a festival, burnt down 12 houses forcing the police to open fire.

Communal ire spreads

About 25,000 people had gathered for a religious ceremony to mark the inauguration of a new temple when a rumour sparked off violence between the two communities

“There was a rumour that some Muslims had come armed with sticks to beat people. In the fracas, there was some stone throwing and violence,” said one eyewitness.

Vulnerable belt

Ironically, the village had remained calm during the post-Godhra violence even though neighbouring areas had been torn apart by riots.

Since then, a number of Muslim families from surrounding areas migrated to Mehsana. Many feel that this influx altered the social balance and generated tensions that could have led to the violence.

“Ever since these families moved in, there have been problems. We even got a request from to have these families moved out of here. A whisper campaign to that effect had already begun and I think the violence was triggered because of that,” said Mehsana’s Superintendent of Police, AK Sharma.

Though the district administration was able to prevent the violence from spreading, the incident had highlighted the vulnerability of areas in north and central Gujarat where even the slightest provocation can erupt in violence.