ANANTAPUR: Violence and arson broke out at Chinnapodamala village in Tadipatri mandal on Saturday night with the followers of Swamy Prabhodhananda ashram and locals clashing during the Ganesh idol procession.
Four tractors, couple of three-wheelers and two-wheelers were set on fire while the two groups pelted stones against each other leaving nearly 20 persons injured, including two of them seriously.
A granite polishing unit was also set on fire by the rampaging mob, police said adding additional forces were rushed to the spot to bring the situation under control.
The villagers of Peddapodamala and Chinnapodamala installed a Lord Ganesha on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi and on Saturday night took out a procession to immerse the idol in the river Penna. The procession has to pass through the Swamy Prabodhananda Ashram, and the villagers and the ashram managers were at loggerheads over the past few years on various issues ranging from laying of drainage pipelines, water contamination and others.
As the procession reached the ashram, it was learnt that some processionists threw colours and raised slogans. The inmates of the ashram too raised counter slogans and soon both the groups indulged in high-pitch sloganeering.
It is learnt that the inmates of the ashram rushed out and attacked the processionists with stones and sticks. The ashram inmates set afire to four tractors, two three-wheelers and an equal number of motorcycles. They also attacked a granite polishing unit and set the machinery there on fire and also damaged a huge quantity of granite slabs in the unit.
Though police were present as part of bandobust, the mob outnumber the forces and went on a rampage before additional forces could reach the village.
Confirming that there were some issues between the villagers and the ashram managers and there was a minor disturbance during the last year's Ganesh immersion procession too, district Superintendent of Police GVG Ashok Kumar said nearly 1,500-2,000 devotees visited the ashram for the recent Krishnastami celebrations and they stayed back in the ashram. ``As the procession reached the ashram and altercation started, the devotees rushed out of the ashram at once and attacked the procession,'' the SP said adding additional forces have been rushed to the village and dispersed the two groups.
When asked about any lapses in security arrangements, the SP said they are focussing on bringing back the situation under control and would look into any lapses at a later stage. A tense situation is prevailing in the villages even as police pickets have been posted in the village.