For locals Muzaffarnagar riots 2013 have come as a crude shock. A peaceful city has been turned into a ghost town due to concerted efforts and rumor mongering by communal forces. Four indicted BJP MLAs are still to be arrested.
By NVONews.Com Correspondent,
Muzaffarnagar/ New Delhi: As many as 41 people have been killed till now and the killings have not stopped in Muzaffarnagar. Since yesterday three more bodies have been found in rural areas where most of the deaths and destructions have been caused. Despite some sort of normalcy on the surface in urban areas including in Muzaffarnagar city, rural areas are still on the edge as more people continue to leave mixed population area and go to areas dominated by their own respective communities.
In the meantime three bodies were discovered yesterday from rural areas in Muzaffarnagar district taking the toll to 41. Police and paramilitary forces are searching for the people who ignited the communal fire, nonetheless the BJP leaders who actually communalized the whole atmosphere are still to be arrested. They are still vitiating the atmosphere along with other communal forces who have been very active in the area in recent times. Though case has been filed against four BJP MLAs but they are yet to be apprehended. One of these MLAs has been charged with distributing fake video that actually ignited the violence.
Meanwhile other nearby districts including Meerut, Saharanpur, Ghaziabad, Shamli and even other nearby districts are on edge and security has been beefed up in these areas. Army and paramilitary units have held flag marches in Meerut that is on edge since the first death in Muzaffarnagar was reported.
In the meantime with situation improving slightly in urban areas, curfew was relaxed yesterday for over two hours in three areas of trouble-hit Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh even as the death toll in the clashes in the district and adjoining towns climbed to 40. With no reports of any fresh violence, curfew was eased for two-and-a-half hours from 3.30 pm in Kotwali, Civil Lines and Nai Nandi areas, district magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said. The district administration had clamped curfew on Saturday following incidents of communal violence.
Meanwhile deaths are being reported from surrounding districts too. Home Secretary Kamal Saxena said while two deaths have been reported from Meerut, one each has been reported from Hapur, Baghpat, Saharanpur and Shamli. 81 people have been injured in these districts and 366 people have been arrested, he said while claiming that the situation was “under control”.
In the meantime state’s Samajwadi Party government that has utterly failed to control the riots in the areas has said that it will deal with an iron fist. Sending out a stern warning, U P Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said, “The state government would deal strictly with all those who have tried to create communal chasm and harm the atmosphere of Muzaffarnagar and Uttar Pradesh.” “It would be our efforts that communal amity is strengthened and the areas where situation has been brought under control no new incidents are allowed to take place”, he told reporters after a state cabinet meeting here which took stock of the recent developments. “We have got information that many people have left there homes and villages and collected elsewhere and they have to return…it would be my appeal that brotherhood should remain intact”, he said. In Agra, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav defended the state government. “The government did everything to control the violence. It was stopped in two days. The security forces dealt with the problem very effectively,” he told reporters.
Muzaffarnagar is just about 100 kilometer from national capital New Delhi and riots here are going to create concern about the overall security situation in the country. Muzaffarnagar, with a population of less than half a million, has a 49% Hindu and 47% Muslim population. The Jats and Muslims have always fought battles together. Mediapersons reporting from the area recollect the days when, during many farmer agitations under Mahendra Singh Tikait in the early 1980s, Muslims offered namaaz and the Hindus, prayers at rally sites. The people of the area, who till now took pride in the ‘Ganga-Jamuna tehzeeb’ (syncretic culture), are numbed into silence.
While nearby district Meerut has always been communally sensitive, this area always remained calm, even in the aftermath of Babri Masjid demolition too. Faced with hunger, fear and heavy security presence, the district elders stand at the cross-roads of a never before religious divide that poses a “scary and uncertain future”, admits a senior official with his roots in the region. “We have grown up in the area and it is indeed a sad development,” the official, who pleaded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said. The National Highway 58 that passes through the city wears an abandoned look owing to the curfew and the only people around are the men in khakhi, swarming in their thousands. The jaggery and other trade centres at the Naveen Mandi are deserted and business is suffering. A city with the highest agricultural GDP in the state is now in the grip of communal tension, residents say. Mirza Arshad Beg, a trader, told IANS over the phone that in the tough communal situation in the state in the 1990s the city was by-and-large peaceful and the developments of the past few days have even taken him aback. “I always took pride in the social cocktail the city offered but, no more,” he said, sounding very crestfallen. Old timers endorse Beg’s contention that in the past, the city has been very “peaceful and amicable”.