Members of the Muslim community, approximately 700 in numbers, first pelted stones, then ran amok behind Sikhs with swords and guns.
At least three persons have been killed and 26 injured in the Saharanpur communal clashes by now.
The district administration of the western city of Uttar Pradesh has imposed curfew in the district and has also given shoot-at-sight orders.
The Army has been put on alert too.
Among those injured are the Saharanpur City Magistrate and six policemen. A constable who received bullet injuries has been shifted to the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh.
Reports are that the members of the Muslim community, approximately 700 in numbers, first pelted stones, then ran amok behind Sikhs with swords and guns. They also caused major damage to personal properties as they torched more than two dozen vehicles including fire tenders and over 70 shops were set on fire on Ambala Road in the city.
So what happened that the ‘peaceful’ community of India resorted to violence just a day after the last Friday of the holy month of Ramzan?
It is said that the reason behind the Muslim anger is a land dispute case.
One Moharram Ali Pappu had filed a petition in the court 10 years ago, stating that a mosque had been built on the vacant land – the land in the centre of the dispute – and it must not be used by the gurdwara in the area. But the Additional District Judge passed an order in May 2013 stating the land belonged to the gurdwara.
The Gurudwara Prabandhak Samiti was building an extension in the land when the other community objected.
According to the Indian Express, Saharanpur SSP Rajesh Pandey said that around 3 am Saturday, the ADM and SP were informed that the Gurdwara Samiti had started construction without the permission of the Saharanpur Development Authority and this had to be stopped.
“The DM and I went to the spot to tell them that construction could be done only after the development authority gives permission. We were there when a mob came to the gurdwara and started pelting stones. They had ammunition with them. We had to call in extra forces and use teargas shells, rubber bullets and lathis. The crowd however swelled and spread to other parts. A group of around a thousand people marched towards Ambala Road and torched vehicles and shops,” said Pandey.
Admitting that police may have been lax in assessing the situation earlier, he said they had been on their toes ever since.
Eyewitnesses however said the crowd overpowered the police and that its personnel ran to save their lives.”
According to The Hindu, Saharanpur District Magistrate Sandhya Tiwari said “the construction was carried out without the permission of the Saharanpur Development Authority (SDA).” The SDA stopped the construction when it was reported around four days ago, she added.
But the reports which came after the clashes claimed that the Muslim community of Saharanpur was joined by the members from Muzaffarnagar and Moradabad. The organized violence started from there when the unsocial elements brandishing swords and guns ran behind Sikhs.
According to the Saharanpur Senior Superintendent of Police, Rajesh Pandey, “12 persons have been arrested” for the violence.
Eight companies and one platoon of the Provincial Armed Constabulary, two companies of the Rapid Action Force, four companies of the Central Reserve Police Force, two companies of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and two companies of the Sashastra Seema Bal have been deployed, a police spokesman said.
The home ministry has its eyes on the situation. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has asked Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to ensure communal harmony, and offered all help to contain the situation.
Meanwhile, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also called for an end to the “politics of hatred” in the country. “I am deeply saddened to hear of clashes in Saharanpur. Violence, divisiveness and hatred have no place in our country. This politics of hatred must end. I appeal to every one to remain calm and refrain from fanning communal passions,” he added.
There is no doubt that the administration in the state has failed completely and it is a small wonder that Akhilesh Yadav is still holding the chief ministerial post.
It is another Muzaffarnagar in making where the state government is did not pay attention to intel.
But Akhilesh won’t learn, will he?