The situation may be returning to normal in the clash-hit Muzaffarnagar town where curfew was relaxed from 12 noon to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, but fresh incidents in rural areas of neighbouring Baghpat district and even in Muzaffarnagar district suggest that the embers are yet to die down.
Large-scale exodus of villagers has been reported from both districts. Ten relief camps have been set up in Muzaffarnagar. Uttar Pradesh Home Secretary Kamal Saksena said about 10,000 persons had taken shelter there. About 5,000 people were housed in one camp.
A helpline for missing persons (9454402574) has been set up in the office of the IG Zone, Meerut. Information about the number of persons missing in the aftermath of the communal violence was not available with the government. Villages where one community or the other is in a minority were being identified for further deployment of security forces.
At Tirthal in Baghpat district, a policeman and several other persons were injured in a clash between two communities but the situation was brought under control, thanks to heavy police deployment in the village and adjoining areas. However, within four minutes, the rival groups resorted to heavy brickbatting and firing. Inspector-General (Crime) Ashish Gupta told reporters that about 30 persons were arrested.
The IG said the situation was under control, but tense. A cause for alarm is the circulation, still in many villages, of the fake video on the killing of two Hindu boys at Kawal village on August 27. Mr. Gupta said rumour-mongering on video clips was also on. The police reiterated that the video was not related to any incident in Muzaffarnagar district.
The CD related to Saturday’s “mahapanchayat” was being examined and anyone found guilty of inflaming passions would be booked under the NSA, the IG said.
Meanwhile, two more bodies were recovered from a field under the Phugana police station area on Wednesday, taking the death toll in Muzaffarnagar district to 34 since the outbreak of communal violence on September 7. While the number of injured persons is 93, three of them in a serious condition, seven persons have been booked under the National Security Act for indulging in rioting. About 10,000 persons have been bound by Section 107/16 of Cr. PC. The number of preventive arrests under Section 151 has gone up to 1500.