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Three killed, 40 injured in Gujarat violence

AHMEDABAD NOV. 2. Three persons were killed and 40 injured today when a former municipal councillor allegedly opened fire on a mob after a local cricket match turned violent in Virangam town, 70 km from here, sparking off communal clashes and prompting the administration to impose an indefinite curfew.

According to the DIG, Ahmedabad Range, A.K. Sharma, the incident occurred when Purushottam Jadhav, allegedly fired from his rifle on the mob after a cricket match between locals turned violent and led to clashes.

Mr. Jadhav, alongwith 24 others, have been arrested and the rifle seized, Mr. Sharma said adding two empty cartridges have been recovered.

According to sources at the V.S. Hospital here, three persons, belonging to the same family were brought dead. While a youth reportedly died on the spot, two others died on way to the hospital. Earlier, police sources put the toll at four.

The victims were identified as Sharifbhai, Zakir Allarakha and Zakir Yusuf.

Forty persons, including three teen-aged boys, are being treated at a private hospital.

Police fired at least 20 rounds to quell the rioting mobs that torched close to 12 shops in the Chand Fadi and Sheth Vaad areas of the town.

Mr. Sharma said the situation was completely under control. He, however, said curfew would remain in the trouble-affected town for an indefinite period.

The injured three teenagers alleged that the ex-councillor and some others opened fire.

Twelve-year-old Mohammed Shoaib Abdul Kader, who received multiple shrapnel injuries, said they were playing cricket when trouble broke out and led to a heated discussion between Mr. Jadhav and the locals.

Kader alleged that Mr. Jadhav opened fire that left him and many others injured while Mr. Jadhav's friends opened fire from their private arms and injured others.

Police said the condition of two persons was serious. The condition of another youth in hospital was also serious.

``Investigations into the incident reveal that a few minority community youths were playing cricket in the Chand Fadi area of the town and the incident occurred when the ball entered a place of worship'', Mr. Sharma said.

Mr. Jadhav, who was passing by, reportedly abused the youths who beat him up. Mr. Jadhav immediately called the police and informed them that a mob was gathering outside his house and throwing stones.

``A similar incident during Diwali had occurred but timely intervention by the local leaders prevented the incident from flaring up'', an official said.

The former councillor reportedly came out of his house and allegedly fired four rounds ``in self-defence'' from his rifle, the DIG said, adding several persons were injured and had to be rushed here for treatment.

The situation flared up immediately after that and mobs from both communities began throwing stones and ransacked shops, he said. — PTI

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