Additional Director-General of Police Rajkumar Vishwakarma said: “Half of the entire reserved force in the State [20 companies] has been deployed. We have also been provided with 15 Central Reserve Police Force and five Rapid Action Force companies. Besides, five companies of the Provisional Armed Constabulary have been pressed into service. Of the eight Army columns, five are engaged in the rural areas spread across 150 km.”
While a heavy police presence on Sunday ensured peace in the main city — where IBN7 reporter Rajesh Verma was shot dead by a rampaging mob near Khalapar after clashes broke out following the dispersal of the mahapanchayat on Saturday afternoon — security forces had a tough time controlling the situation in rural areas.
“It may take us at least a week to restore law and order in the villages which have a mixed population,” said Mr. Vishwakarma. Leaders of both the communities would be involved to defuse the tension.
Meanwhile, with the other communally sensitive towns placed on high alert following Saturday’s clashes, the Army was called out in the neighbouring Shamli town and in Meerut.
A Home Department spokesman said the army staged a flag march in Meerut.
Since Saturday, the police have received over 25 reports of clashes in different parts of the district and among the worst affected villages are Kawal, Joli, Shahpur, Basi, Kutbi-Kutba and Bhora Kalan. Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from these villages on the second consecutive day with unconfirmed reports of deaths on both sides. The deterioration in the situation can be guaged from the fact that an army column was reportedly fired upon by some persons.
State Home Secretary, Kamal Saksena, told reporters that some persons on a tractor opened fire on the army personnel, who were evacuating people to safer places from the villages where they are in a minority.
“To evacuate people”
Mr. Saksena said the army personnel also opened fire, “but only to evacuate people from the villages”. The Home Secretary denied that any person was killed in army firing.
Passions have been running high in Muzaffarnagar ever since the August 27 incident.
“The local administration, which claims that they did not have enough force for deployment in the rural areas, are also to be blamed for the failure to contain violence. Had the intelligence mechanism tipped off the police in time, proper arrangements could have been made in time,” said Ashish, a resident.
(With inputs from Atiq Khan in Lucknow)