The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has faulted the Uttar Pradesh government for delay in imposing curfew in violence-hit areas of Muzaffarnagar district even as the Centre asked the State government to send a “situation report” every 12 hours.
The Ministry called for deployment of additional forces, particularly in rural areas of the district where fresh incidents of violence were reported.
Though communal tension in the district had been building since last month, the alleged circulation of some videos last week, followed by the calls for ‘mahapanchayat’, led to rioting. The district administration was unable to the gauge the tense situation and take preventive steps, and when the violence escalated and spread to other areas last Friday and Saturday, it was unable to control the situation and put more areas under curfew till the army and paramilitary forces stepped it, MHA officials said.
Now, the Ministry has asked the State government to send a ground report every 12 hours till normality returns to the riot-hit areas and asked the State to deploy more forces in rural areas.
“We are concerned about spread of violence in rural areas and neighbouring districts … These reports would help us is constantly accessing the prevailing situation on the ground and take steps in advance to foil any attempt to further escalate the situation,” a senior MHA official said.
Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami spoke to Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur and sought more deployment of Army personnel in the disturbed areas. The MHA is also considering deploying Army and paramilitary forces in nearby sensitive districts such as Meerut and Saharanpur.
The MHA has again alerted States that have a history of communal riots to be vigilant and sternly deal with any attempt to disturb peace and harmony. Seven States — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana, and Jammu and Kashmir — have been specifically warned in view of growing cases of communal violence since past one year.
“We have told these States governments to ask their police forces to take every small incident seriously and control it immediately,” a senior official said.
Last week, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde noted that 451 riot cases were reported till August 31 this year, up from 410 in 2012.