Riots broke out in New Delhi on tuesday (2 October) during a demonstration by members of the Janata Party.
Riots broke out in New Delhi on tuesday (2 October) during a demonstration by members of the Janata Party. They were angered by a claim from Mr. Raj Narain, chairman of the Lok Dal party, the major partner in the ruling caretaker coalition, that the Janata Party had defiled the tomb of Mahatma Gandhi.
SYNOPSIS: The occasion was the one hundred and tenth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's birth. Prime Minister Charan Singh was one of many politicians who came to pay their respects to the memory of India's founding father and ???stle of non-violence.
Also attending the ceremony was the country's President Sanjiva Reddy. He too paid his respects in flowers at Gandhi's shrine in New Delhi were hundreds of people had gathered for what is usually a solemn occasion.
It was here two years ago that members of the Janata Party met to take a pledge of loyalty to Gandhi's ideals. And it was that meeting, according to former Janata politician Mr. Raj Narain, that had defiled the shrine.
Outside, angry young Janata demonstrators were waiting for Mr. Narain, who in July led a revolt inside the Janata party, destroying its majority in Parliament. He had now further enraged Janata supporters by promising to hold his own purification ceremony at the shrine. Until his arrival, the demonstrators had remained in check, but when they saw his car, they surged forward and the police moved in.
As the demonstration became more fierce, the police began making arrests. Shouting slogans against Mr. Narain and his party, Janata demonstrators were apprehended in large numbers and loaded onto police buses.
It took a police baton charge to disperse the demonstrators who fled down the street away from the shrine.
And tear gas shells were used.
With a degree of order restored, Mr. Narain protected by party supporters, went ahead with the ceremony. He had decided to hold the prayer meeting across the street from the Gandhi Shrine, despite his initial promise to conduct it on the exact site of the Janata meeting.
His ritual involved lighting a holy flame and sprinkling sacred water from the River Ganges. Mr. Narain said the ritual restored the sanctity of Mahatma Gandhi's name. His opponents, however, said all he had done was to cause trouble.