Two days after three people were killed in a fresh round of communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, a Jat panchayat in Muhammadpur Raisingh and a meeting of Muslims before Friday prayer in the adjacent village of Hussainpur, have added fears of new tension in the region.
Three victims, identified as Afroz, 20, Meherban, 21, and Ajmal, 22 from Hussainpur were allegedly beaten to death in clashes between members of Jat community and Muslims belonging to the two villages.
The Panchayat, attended by hundreds of Jats from the village and the nearby region and addressed by several community leaders including Naresh Tikait of Bharatiya Kisan Union, sent out the message that the “fight” was not between Hindus and Muslims but between Jats and the minority community.
“This government is working in a one-sided manner, in favour of a particular community. We do not want this fight and bloodbath but our tolerance is being tested. We are being forced to do things, we do not want to do otherwise,” said Mr. Tikait in his address to the Panchayat, which is also being seen as the BKU’s attempt to consolidate Jat votes, which were going towards other political parties, back to its fold.
Asking the Jat community not to celebrate Diwali, he also cautioned them of the “impending danger”.
“We are in talks with the government but anything can happen and nobody is safe. Save your life and do not come out of your homes,” added Mr. Tikait to the panchayat.
He advised his fellow community members to exercise restraint and not do anything even if “provoked”.
The Jats delivered an angry response at the panchayat in the wake of the arrests of their fellow community members from here in connection with the killings of three Muslim youths.
Mr. Tikait asked to the community to be patient till November 6.
On that day, he announced, the leaders of 36 Jat ‘biradaris’ will have a grand meeting with all the Muslim leaders of the region.
“We will send out invitations to all the honourable Muslim leaders from the region to sit and talk because we do not want this bloodbath to continue,” the BKU leader said.
On the other hand, the ‘pradhan’ (village chief) of Hussainpur and cousin of the three dead victims, Shahnawaz Khan, led a meeting of Muslims before Friday prayer and demanded justice and compensation to the kin of the victims.
He also asked non-Jat Hindus to be alert towards any Jat ‘conspiracy’ of attacking them and blaming Muslims for acts of violence.
“In this village, Muslims have been living in very harmonious relationship with non-Jat hindus in this region. I am scared that Jats may want to spread anti-Muslim feelings by their conspiracy,” said Mr. Khan.
He also threatened to hold a ‘mahapanchayat’ if the victims did not get justice.
After the two meetings, tempers ran high in both the villages and local villagers expressed the possibility of new increased incidents of violence in the region after Diwali, especially after November 6.
Till now, the fresh incidents of violence were limited to the two villages. However, scattered incidents have threatened the fragile peace of the region, leading the violence to spill over into other parts of Muzaffarnagar district where last month’s series of communal riots left 62 people dead.
In a separate incident four policemen were injured in stone-pelting by villagers in Kutba area of the western Uttar Pradesh district, where they had gone to arrest a person in connection with a case of communal violence last month.
According to the local police, the mob, which damaged three police vehicle, was protesting against the arrest of a person in connection with the September 8 communal violence in the village, in which eight people, including a woman, were killed and houses burnt. Security has been stepped up across the district.