Though communal violence has abated in Muzaffarnagar, where curfew was relaxed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, people of several villages in Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Shamli, Saharanpur and Meerut districts in western Uttar Pradesh are said to be living in fear. Confidence-building measures by the police and the administration have apparently failed to make any impact in these parts.
A senior police official admitted that there is apprehension in many villages about security, even as the situation showed signs of improvement.
About 30,000 to 40,000 people are reported to have been displaced from their homes in the rural areas. Official confirmation about the number has not been made, but the reported plight of Muslims, with many of them reportedly forced to seek refuge in “madrasas” and relief camps has led several organisations to demand Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s resignation.
The “Mohtamim” (Vice-Chancellor) of Darul Uloom, Deoband in Saharanpur district, Maulana Abdul Qasim Nomani, has demanded a CBI enquiry into the communal strife. This was confirmed by “Naib Mohtamim” (Pro-VC), Maulana Abdul Khalique Madrasi, over the phone from Darul Uloom on Friday.
To prevent outbreak of violence in the rural areas of western U.P., police pickets have been posted in 547 villages. In addition to this, 536 police mobile squads have been formed with each squad given the charge of three villages. These will be constantly on the move. State IG (Crime) Ashish Gupta told journalists that some doubts in the minds of people were removed on account of these measures, but added that the situation was under control, but tense.
The recovery of four bodies from canals in Shamli, Meerut and Muzaffarnagar districts on Friday fuelled speculations that the rural areas continued to simmer with communal tension. A fresh incident was also reported from Maverha village about 7 km from Deoband in Saharanpur district, where two motorcycle-borne youths shot and injured a youth around 10.15 a.m. on Friday and fled from the scene. The injured was admitted to Meerut hospital, where he was reported to be in a critical state.
The body of an unidentified person was recovered from the Gang Nahar (canal) in Shamli district on Friday. The body is understood to be that of a person who was killed on September 3 in the communal clashes that rocked Shamli. Three other bodies were found floating in the canal, one in Behrampur village under the Jaani police station area in Meerut district and two under the Bhopa and Sirkherha police station areas in Muzaffarnagar district. Mr. Gupta said their identities and when they were killed had not been ascertained.
Death toll rises to 48
Following the recovery of the four bodies, the death toll has gone up to 48, with Muzaffarnagar alone accounting for 40. Mr. Gupta said some local incidents, which may have been used by anti-social elements to give it a different colour, have been nipped in the bud following the intervention of the police and responsible persons belonging to both the communities.
One such incident took place in Meerut under the Civil Lines police station area where an 18-year-old boy, Karan Kaushik, was kidnapped by one Salman and two of his accomplices on September 11. Police arrested Salman and Suhail on Thursday and following their interrogation the boy’s body was recovered from a graveyard where it had been buried by the accused after killing him.