Judicial probe ordered into Dhule riots

Dhule (Maharashtra), Jan 15 (IANS) The Maharashtra government Tuesday ordered a judicial probe into the Jan 6 communal riots in this town in which six people were killed and over 200 injured.

This follows a magisterial inquiry ordered earlier into the incidents in Dhule, 350 km north from Mumbai.

Announcing the judicial probe, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said that a retired judge would conduct the inquiry and submit a report at the earliest.

"The inquiry will go into the reasons behind the riots and will also suggest measures to prevent such recurrences," Chavan told mediapersons after visiting Dhule Tuesday.

A day after the incident, Chavan had ordered a magisterial inquiry and directed that its report be submitted within two months.

Chavan also announced Rs.5 lakh for the families of those who lost their lives in the riots, Rs.3 lakh for those who were permanently disabled and compensation as per rules for those who sustained damages or losses to their businesses and properties.

Earlier, Chavan had announced that the government would bear the full medical costs of the injured and the funeral expenses of the victims.

"The district collectorate has also been directed to arrange for the rehabilitation of those displaced in the riots and initiate measures to ensure that similar violence does not break out again," Chavan added.

State Home Minister R.R. Patil said that firebombs were hurled at houses, something that "could not be accepted".

Six people were killed, including three in police firing, during the riots. Over a hundred people and 102 police personnel were injured. The riots erupted over a trivial matter of paying a restaurant bill.

"Ten days after the incident, a 12-hour night curfew is still on in the town. This is to avoid inconvenience to school and college students who had to remain indoors due to curfew last week," Dhule collector Prakash Mahajan told IANS.

Mahajan said that the curfew would be relaxed gradually Wednesday.

Additional Director-General of Police Ahmad Javed had rushed to Dhule to monitor the situation especially since police personnel were under heavy attack from rioters hurling stones, bricks, acid and soda water bottles at them and torching vehicles.

Police controlled the rioting by using batons, tear gas, plastic bullets and finally opened fire.

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