20 arrested after Saharanpur clashes, curfew continues, Akhilesh seeks report

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SecuSecurity men patrol a street as brick-bats and bikes are lying on the road after violent clashes between two communities over a land dispute in Saharanpur. (PTI photo)rity men patrol a street as brick-bats and bikes are lying on the road after violent clashes between two communities over a land dispute in Saharanpur. (PTI photo)

An uneasy calm prevailed in violence-hit Saharanpur on Sunday where 20 people were arrested even as curfew and shoot-at-sight orders remained in force following clashes between two communities over a land dispute.

Uttar Pradesh additional director general of police (law and order) Mukul Goel said, “No incident has been reported since yesterday. Curfew is in force and is being enforced strictly.”

He said steps were being taken to normalise the situation at the earliest. “It has been directed that action should be taken against whosoever is found guilty,” he said in Lucknow.

On the land dispute, Tiwari said, “I’m not going into it….The construction is on hold.” Three persons were yesterday killed and 19 others, including policemen, injured in the clashes as mobs indulged in arson after which curfew was clamped and shoot-at-sight ordered.

Prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC have been invoked in the district and curfew was clamped in six areas, according to commissioner, Saharanpur, Tanveer Zafar Ali.

 

Policemen carry away a protester during clashes between two communities in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh. (HT Photo)

Meanwhile, a political blame game has begun over the violence with Congress accusing the UP government of “administrative lapse” while BJP alleged that Samajwadi Party was indulging in “vote-bank politics”.

Reacting to the charges, Samajwadi Party said there was an effort to “disrupt peace in the state” and that there was “no place for communalism, anti-social elements”.

SP leader Rajendra Chaudhary said that if the opposition tried to do politics on the issue, then the law will take its own course.

Blaming the local authorities for “administrative lapse”, Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi said that if it was a fact that there was a court judgement on the issue and police help was sought by one side, then it was the responsibility of the officials to find a solution by making both sides understand that the court order must be implemented.

BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said, “The UP government has completely failed to run the administration in the state. The people ruling the state themselves want that there is communal tension so that they do vote-bank politics.

“BJP wants amity and peace. Every person has the right to worship and nobody has the right to interfere in that. But Akhilesh Yadav’s government is weak on every front. A message has gone that there is nothing called government in the state.

Whenever there are such tense situations, the government proves to be incompetent.” Manoj Jha of RJD alleged that there has been a rise in such incidents since BJP has come to power at the Centre.

Officials in Lucknow said Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has sought a report from the district authorities regarding the incident in Saharanpur, which is nearly 170 km from Delhi and 560km from Lucknow. Yadav has termed the incident as “unfortunate” and said that those responsible will not be spared.

Home minister Rajnath Singh had on Saturday had spoken to the chief minister on phone and asked him to ensure communal harmony in the state. He offered all help to contain the situation.

Trouble began when members of one community started construction work at the site in Kutubsher area in the wee hours yesterday, which was objected to by the other group.

Both the sides indulged in heavy brick-batting, arson and opened fire and there were reports of several shops being gutted in the clash, police said.

Police had fired rubber bullets to control the situation as mobs went on the rampage, setting several shops afire. Additional forces, including from PAC, CRPF, RAF and ITBP have been deployed in the troubled areas.

Five policemen, a city magistrate, and 13 others were injured. A constable was stated to be in serious condition in Chandigarh PGI after suffering a bullet injury.

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