Tensions flared in Maharashtra’s Satara district on Sunday night as two communities clashed in Pusesawali village, resulting in the death of a Muslim man and eight injured individuals.
The outbreak of violence was triggered by an “objectionable” post on social media, causing authorities to suspend internet services in the area as a precautionary measure. Several residences were also damaged by fires during the altercation, according to a senior district administration official.
The incident began when local police questioned a youth about the controversial social media post at a village outpost on Sunday. Simultaneously, members of another community gathered outside the police post and began causing disturbances, escalating the situation. They set fire to vehicles and inflicted property damage in certain lanes. Ten individuals suffered injuries, and one person ultimately succumbed to their injuries during treatment, as reported by Kolhapur Range Inspector General Sunil Phulari.
Local residents told the media that a right-wing organization carried out an assault on a mosque, where they targeted and physically assaulted a group of Muslims who had come from a different city. They said that two houses belonging to Muslims were set on fire by the right-wing mob.
A case has been registered under Indian Penal Code Section 302 (murder) and other relevant sections related to rioting, leading to the arrest of 23 individuals involved in the clashes.
In connection with the offensive online post, a case was filed under IPC Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), and the individual responsible for uploading the post has been apprehended.
“Some objectionable posts were exhibited on a social media platform and police were questioning a youth over it at an outpost in the village on Sunday. At that time, some persons from another community created ruckus outside the police post,” Kolhapur Range Inspector General Sunil Phulari said.
“They torched some vehicles, damaged property in some bylanes. Ten persons were injured and one died during treatment,” he said.
The authorities have taken the precautionary step of suspending internet services in the district, according to an official statement. They have also appealed to the public to remain calm and avoid being influenced by rumours.
Superintendent of Police Sameer Shaikh confirmed that the police gained control of the situation.
Police said that they are investigating all angles, including potential ties of some arrested individuals to Hindutva groups, in the ongoing case.