Tension prevailed in Meerut for the fourth consecutive day on Tuesday after one of the victims injured in the clashes on Saturday died in the hospital on Monday night.
The 18-year-old victim was shot in the head by unidentified miscreants in the Kotwali area. He was studying in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, and had come home for vacation when the tragedy happened. “My son got killed for no fault of his,” his father said.
As the news of the death spread, a big crowd gathered outside the Meerut Medical College Hospital and raised slogans against the district administration. They also pelted stones at the police force present at the spot, injuring several cops.
Most of the shops in commercial areas, including Sarrafa Bazaar, Bazaza Bazaar, Lala Ka Bazaar and Teergaran, the epicentre of Saturday’s communal violence, remained closed for the fourth day on Tuesday.
Eyewitnesses have been asked to give evidence by May 20 before Chief Development Officer Vedpati Mishra, who is conducting a magisterial inquiry into the clashes.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 13 lakh to the next of the kin of the victim and promised a job to one family member, District Magistrate Navdeep Rinwa said on Tuesday. The protesters, however, demanded an ex-gratia of Rs.25 lakh and jobs to two members of the family, as was given to the relatives of slain Deputy Superintendent of Police of Kunda, Zia-ul-Haque.
“The situation is tense but under control. Heavy police force, the Rapid Action Force and the Provincial Armed Constabulary have been deployed in the sensitive areas. We have arrested seven persons till now. All the 2,000 accused in the 20 FIRs lodged by both the communities will be interrogated and arrested if found involved in arson or murder,” said K. Satyanarayana, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Meerut Range.
Incidents of violence were reported near the victim's residence in Kagzi Bazaar on Monday night when residents roughed up a local news photographer who was trying to take photos of the body after it was brought home. The photographer and other scribes were rescued by Superintendent of Police Rakesh Jolly.
A mob shouted slogans against BJP MP Rajendra Aggarwal for failing to maintain communal harmony in the city. Several other BJP leaders were also asked to go back. Some people in the funeral procession also raised slogans against the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
A video uploaded on a social networking site showing masked men firing randomly and raising “Modi zindabad” slogans seems to have baffled the security agencies.
The police are also looking into two other incidents — the snatching of a wireless handset from a sub-Inspector at Shiv Chowk last week by some motorcycle-borne youths, who discarded the machine at nearby Abu Lane after about six hours, and the unearthing of an illicit weapon manufacturing unit in Sardhana village recently – as they seem to be connected to the communal flare-up in the city.
It seemed to be the work of some module operating in western Uttar Pradesh, said a senior police officer.