The ruling Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh seem to be making the most of the prevailing crisis in Moradabad to serve their political ends.
A violent clash ensued between the police and Bharatiya Janata Party activists on Friday, following a protest over removal of a loudspeaker from a local temple in the Kanth area of the communally sensitive district of Western Uttar Pradesh.
The clash left several BJP workers and Moradabad district magistrate Chandrakant injured. Four BJP MPs and MLAs were kept under detention by the police.
Trouble sparked off in Kanth town on June 26 following an abrupt order issued by the Moradabad district administration banning loudspeaker at a Hindu temple, largely patronised by the Dalit population in the area. According to locals, “the loudspeaker had been there for several decades.”
The district administration got the loudspeaker removed following a complaint by local Peace Party MLA Anisur Rehman, who alleged that the loudspeaker was installed without the statutory permission of the authorities.
“The MLA’s complaint was taken at face value, while our plea supported with enough circumstantial evidence was rejected. The officials swung into action and forcibly removed the loudspeaker,” said a man involved in the management of the 40-year-old temple.
He said the objections were raised by a group of local Muslims engaged in building a mosque in the neighbourhood. “We never objected to the construction of the mosque. There are already four mosques in the town. But they began to find fault with our loudspeaker which has been there for such a long time,” he said.
What enraged the local Dalits was the sudden removal of the loudspeaker by the police. Initially, they lodged mild protests through sit-in demonstrations, but were lathi charged by the police.
The BJP leadership, which had been keeping a close watch on the developments, tried to draw political mileage out of the situation. While SP tried to appease the Muslim community, BJP chose to exploit the Hindu sentiment.
Interestingly, even as Dalits were at the receiving end of the SP administration, the Bahujan Samaj Party failed to take up the issue.
Five MPs of the BJP were said to be on their way to Kanth on Saturday to lead another protest demonstration.
“We cannot allow protestors to take law into their hands. Anyone crossing the line of democratic lawful protests will be dealt with severely,” said a top police officer in Lucknow.
With eye on their respective vote banks, both SP and BJP were unlikely to hold back their goons -- at least until the bye-elections to the nine state assembly seats that will go to poll over the next few months.
The Congress blamed BJP for tension in Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh and defended the Samajwadi Party government over police action, saying there was no other option but to take law and order measures.
Party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of remaining "silent" while the ruling BJP practices "divisive politics".
Questioning the decision of BJP leaders led by Sardhana MLA Sangeet Som, who is an accused in Muzaffarnagar riots, to hold a 'Mahapanchayat' in the area, Singhvi said Som was doing it for "purely electoral purposes".
"Can the country not run without the Mahapanchayat being held? It is like adding fire to the tinderbox. This shows the divisive agenda of BJP. Modi went in silence and no senior BJP leader condemns it. Sangeet Som is doing it for purely election purpose.
What option does one have except to take law and order action to stop such kind of conflagration, provocation and incitement," he said.
Violent protests broke out in Kanth area of Moradabad yesterday over holding a 'Mahapanchayat' during which BJP leaders including four MPs and MLA Sangeet Som were detained.
The 'mahapanchayat' or gathering was called by the state BJP in defiance of the state order, after a recent tension in Kanth, over removal of a loudspeaker from a temple.
Another Congress leader Rashid Alvi said the dispute was over a very petty matter and it was almost sorted out but some BJP workers "rejected" the agreement between the two communities.
"Even BJP leaders including the local MP had put their signature to the agreement. But it was trashed by BJP workers who resorted to violence," he said.
With inputs from PTI
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