Curfew still on in Saharanpur, situation tense

Lucknow: The situation in violence-hit areas of Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, where three people were killed in communal violence two days ago, continued to be tense on Monday, forcing authorities to extend the curfew in some areas.

There were a few minor incidents of stone-pelting in some areas but the situation was by and large under control, police said.

Police and para-military personnel had been deployed in the sensitive areas of the city, district police chief Rajesh Pandey said.

Meanwhile, two senior police officials rushed to the city by the state government - ADG D.S. Chauhan and DIG Deepak Ratan - met district officials.

Satisfied at the efforts of the district administration, both officials, however, said they would continue to camp in the city till normalcy is restored.

The district authorities have sent a report to the home department and have sought guidelines on relaxing the curfew and other security arrangements with regards to the forthcoming festival of Eid.

As many as 38 people have been arrested since Sunday for the the mob violence.

Violence broke out in Saharanpur on Saturday after a land dispute verdict by the high court led to some construction work on the land claimed by a local gurdwara.

Muslims in the locality took umbrage. People from both the communities pelted stones and fired at each other. Over four dozen vehicles and shops were gutted in the violence that followed.

Three people were also killed. Over three dozen people, including a police constable and a homeguard personnel, were injured, and many of them are critical, police said.

According to sources, the district administration was "still worried" about the prevailing tension on Janta road, Dholikhaal, Hasanpur and Ambala road where angry crowds hurled stones at policemen on Sunday.

The communal violence in Indian town of Saharanpur should be halted at once before it spreads and becomes uncontrollable, a Pakistani daily said in an editorial.

The violence was a result of a land dispute between the Muslim and Sikh communities in Saharanpur and so far, it has claimed two lives, the Daily Times said in an editorial.

"Saharanpur is a place under direct influence and control of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is suffering intolerance and aggression in the form of religious discrimination," the editorial said.

"It is a matter that needs to be sorted out before a large-scale eruption of communal riots breaks out, the potential is there and it must be curbed."

The editorial said that the Muslims in India and Pakistan were, "extremely weary of what would be of their lot once Narendra Modi came to power after controversies surrounding his role in the 2002 Gujarat riots."

"If the above-mentioned two incidents are anything to go by, the forecast looks grim for the many Muslims in India, especially in Uttar Pradesh," the editorial said.

The editorial also mentions another incident which has caused immense insult to the Muslim community.

"A Shiv Sena MP, Rajan Vichare, was videotaped last week, force-feeding a Muslim catering supervisor in New Delhi's Maharashtra Sadan. This is a despicable act because Muslims are observing the holy month of Ramzan and forcing food down a Muslim’s throat while he/she is fasting is a grave insult to religious sentiments."

Vichare in his defence said that he committed this deplorable act because he found the food at the Maharashtra Sadan to be low in quality and substandard.

"The Shiv Sena party which is in close alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headed by Narendra Modi, speaks volumes for the kind of sensitivity this newly formed government in India holds for its Muslim minority," the editorial said.

"The force-feeding incident highlights that when it comes to regressive behaviour and intolerance for religious feelings and sensitivities, both countries, India and Pakistan, have a lot of demons in their closet."

"Wherever religious insensitivity raises its ugly head, there will be agitation and frustration. Modi would do well to remember that," the editorial concluded.

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