“Police inaction to address complaints of atrocities drove people to khap panchayat”

“Sheer inaction on the part of the administration to address grievances of people, despite repeated complaints of the atrocities they were being subjected to in different parts of this region, created a sense of insecurity within the community. Frustrated and enraged, they came together to voice their concerns during the September 7 khap mahapanchayat organised by the Bharatiya Kisan Union. What followed was a series of clashes, taking precious lives,” lamented Mahavir Singh, an elderly resident of Kutba village on the outskirts of this Uttar Pradesh city.

Mahavir said that a day after the riots broke out in Muzaffarnagar, a young Muslim peasant working on his fields called him up at his house around 8 a.m., stating he had heard gunshots. “Almost all the young men from the village were then on the fields. They ran helter-skelter, not knowing from where the bullets were coming. Suspecting that they would be targeted, members of the Muslim community also started firing from atop their houses. In the commotion, the rioters ransacked a mosque and burnt a couple of houses. Chaos prevailed everywhere. It is shocking that even 14 hours after the riots had broken out, no policeman was deployed, nor were talks held with the villagers to put in place preventive measures,” said Mahavir. While the police claim that they are yet to reconstruct the sequence of events that triggered the violence in the region, members of both communities blame each other. Manzoor of Kawal village, said the killing of a boy from his community resulted in the murder of the two accused young men from the other community on August 27. However, the other side alleges that the boy was killed as he had misbehaved with a girl.

“It was a simple case of three murders. But the police involved the parents and relatives from both sides which enraged us. It was only after the riots broke out that did they take a U-turn by dropping the names of the parents from the cases and claiming that no evidence was found against them. Reports of police inaction in cases of violence against women from our community at Shamli aggravated the matter further and in despair and desperation, all turned to khap panchayats,” said Rajbir, another villager.

Villagers said a day after the Kawal incident, the District Magistrate and the Senior Superintendent of Police were shifted. “The transfers did not go down well with us. Now the administration is making efforts to set things right by transferring other police officers, the latest being Khatauli Deputy Superintendent of Police. Will it serve any purpose?” he asked.

Although the police on Wednesday relaxed curfew in the city for four hours as no incident of violence had been reported in the past three days, reports suggest that communal tension has spread to other parts of the State including Hapur, Aligarh and the rural pockets of Meerut. Paramilitary forces have been deployed in Ghaziabad also as a precautionary measure. “Extra force was dispatched to Ramala in Baghpat after we received information about some disturbance on Wednesday. A mob targeted policemen, injuring one of them,” said a senior police officer.

During searches, the police seized 41 cartridges of an AK-47 assault rifle and 79 cartridges of a 9 mm pistol from Ramala. Forty rioters were also arrested. “Over 400 arrests have been made so far in connection with the riots,” said the officer.

While nearly 50 riot-related casualties have been reported from different parts of Western U.P., the death toll may go up what with unconfirmed reports of mutilated bodies being found on fields, jungles and in the Ganga canal.

  • ‘Will transfer of police officers serve any purpose?’

  • Extra force dispatched to Ramala after reports of some disturbance on Wednesday