At least nine persons, including a television journalist, were killed and 34 injured after a fresh bout of communal violence erupted in Muzaffarnagar on Saturday. The Army has been deployed in the town to assist the civil authorities. Curfew has been imposed in Civil Lines, Kotwali and Nai Mandi police station areas as the violence, which started in Nagla Mandaur, spread to other areas.
Communal tension has been simmering in the town since August 27, when three youths died in a clash in atKawal, following an alleged incident of eve-teasing. It spread to the neighbouring Shamli district where two persons were killed in clashes on Wednesday. On Thursday, the BJP called a bandh in Muzaffarnagar.
On Saturday, a ‘mahapanchayat’ was organised at the Nagla Mandaur Inter College in Muzaffarnagar by the Bharatiya Kisan Union in protest against the alleged one-sided police action.
Representatives from 18 khap panchayats are said to have given their consent to the ‘mahapanchayat,’ which was attended by some BJP MLAs, including Hukum Singh, Sangeet Som, Suresh Rana and BKU leaders Naresh Tikait and Rakesh Tikait.
The panchayat was declared unlawful, said Nityananand Rai, PRO at the DG Police office, as prohibitory orders had been enforced in the district.
Clashes broke out after the mahapanchayat was dispersed, in which six persons, including IBN7 journalist Rajesh Verma and Israr, a local lensman hired by the police, died. Several others were injured in incidents of stone-pelting and arson as rival groups fired at each other.
The State has been put on high alert.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 15 lakh for Mr. Verma’s next of kin and Rs. 10 lakh each for the families of the others killed. The seriously injured will be paid Rs. 50,000 each, while those who received minor injuries will get Rs. 20,000.
Mr. Israr was beaten to death by a mob near Sekhera, after bricks were thrown at a bus carrying people to the ‘mahapanchayat.’ There were reports of the bus being attacked near Basi in the Shahpur police station area.