The deaths in Saturday’s communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh rose to 12 on Sunday. Fearing escalation of the clashes, the army has been sent to the violence-hit areas, officials said. On Saturday, at least six people, including a television journalist and a local photographer, were killed when two communities clashed after a mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar.
Mob of people pelted stones and exchanged fire. Around 40 people injured in the clashes were admitted to hospitals. Violence started when some people pelted stones at a bus carrying people to the mahapanchayat, where elders of two religious groups were meeting to sort out the simmering tension between the two communities ever since three youngsters were killed on August 27 over a case of harassment. Eight columns of the army, requisitioned from Bareilly, were sent to the violence-hit areas on Saturday after the violence spread to rural areas.
The situation was tense but under control, said Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Arun Kumar . Officials said four senior police officials were sent by the state government as ‘officers on special duty’ to Muzaffarnagar and neighbouring districts, including Shamli, where tension has been reported.
Following the violence, curfew was imposed on Saturday night, and police have urged people not to step out of their houses in violation of the restrictions, and have warned trouble-makers not to further vitiate the atmosphere.
“When tension was simmering for the last 10 days, the chief minister is angry as to why the violence, despite anticipation, was not contained in time,” said a close aide of Akhilesh Yadav.
With the monsoon session of the state assembly just a week away, Akhilesh Yadav is keen to end the hostilities at the earliest, the aide said. Akhilesh Yadav, meanwhile, urged people not to be swayed by rumours.
“I urge people of the state to maintain peace, communal harmony and warn mischief makers,” he said on the sidelines of a meeting in the state capital.
50 Number of communal clashes in UP since the Samajwadi Party came to power last year
Backlash from political parties
Opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), criticised thegovernment. RLD state president Munna Singh Chauhan said the government has forfeited the right to continue in office. BJP state spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said that the fact that the army had to be called in to contain violence in Muzaffarnagar has proved beyond doubt the ‘failure of the SP government in the state’. Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh Sunday attacked the Uttar Pradesh government, saying it has failed to control communal clashes in the state. “SP government’s track record in this tenure is bad. Haven’t been able to control communal forces in UP. Even BSP’s was better,” Singh tweeted.