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Communal violence erupts over alleged cow slaughter on Eid

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The coastal city of Balasore in northern Odisha has recently become the latest communal hotspot in the state, following violent clashes triggered by an alleged cow slaughter on June 17.

The riots began when rumors spread among the Hindu community that cows had been slaughtered by some members of the Muslim population in the Mallikashpur area, known for the mausoleum of a Sufi pir. The incident occurred on Eid-Ul-Adha, a day marked by animal sacrifices in the Muslim tradition.

As news of the alleged slaughter circulated, a large group of Hindus gathered, claiming that the water in the drains had turned red with the blood of the cows. They attempted to collect the water as evidence, while the police also took samples for testing. Protesters reported finding cow horns and hooves in the drains and subsequently blocked the Balasore-Chandipur highway in protest.

Tensions escalated when a group of radical Muslims attacked the Hindu protesters with stones, acid-filled bottles, iron rods, and swords. Despite the police’s efforts to control the situation, the violence resumed that evening and continued into the next morning. Muslim mobs attacked Hindu properties in Golapokhari, Motiganj, and other areas of the city, leading to retaliatory actions by Hindus. The unrest prompted the district administration to impose a curfew on June 18th to prevent further escalation.

Recent reports indicate no new incidents of violence since the curfew, but communal tensions remain high in Balasore, where Muslims constitute nearly 15 per cent of the population.

The latest violence in Balasore is part of a broader pattern of communal unrest in Odisha, often linked to attacks by radical Muslim mobs. Sociologists and politicians attribute the increasing turmoil to demographic changes, with a notable influx of suspected Rohingyas and Bengali-speaking Muslims, believed to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, through Bengal.

In Balasore, the Muslim population has risen significantly, from 9 per cent in 2011 to an estimated 15 per cent today. Similar trends are observed in other urban centers across Odisha, including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Rourkela, and Berhampur, among others.
Inputs – Organiser

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