2 killed in police firing as anti-Assam riots protest turns violent

Mumbai: Two persons were killed in police firing and at least 55 injured, including 45 policemen, when a protest here against Assam riots turned violent on Saturday and demonstrators clashed with the men in uniform.

"Police used lathi-charge, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the violent crowd and in the end fired in which two persons were killed," Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithivraj Chavan told reporters here late on Saturday night.

He said "police could have used more force but the fact that 45 policemen were among the injured proves that they did everything possible to control the mob".

"Two youths, Mohammed Umar (22) and Altaf Shaikh (18), who were injured in the violence and were in critical condition, died while undergoing treatment at St George Hospital," a civic body official told PTI.

Chavan said besides the 45 police personnel 10 others were also injured.

Hundreds of people turned up at Azad Maidan Ground, the popular protest venue, in south Mumbai this afternoon on a call given by a city-based outfit, Raza Academy, to denounce the riots in Assam and also alleged attacks on minority community in Myanmar. Awami Vikas Party (AVP), a political outfit floated by former police officer Shamsher Khan Pathan, also took part in the protest.

The protesters suddenly turned unruly and set afire vehicles of the media and the police, damaged buses and indulged in stone-pelting.

Among the injured were some mediapersons, including Prashant Sawant of `Sakal Times` and Vivek Bendre of `The Hindu`. All injured were shifted to J J Hospital, St George Hospital, GT Hospital and Bombay Hospital, police said.

The Chief Minister said the Crime Branch has been asked to probe "whose hand was behind the violence and how the protest turned so violent".

Police said the situation was brought under control in an hour and normalcy has returned to the area.

Chavan said a high alert has been sounded all over the state and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Rapid Action Force (RAF) and State Reserve Police (SRP) personnel have been requisitioned. He said the miscreants began damaging public property soon after the protest rally began at Azad Maidan.