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The real story behind UP's latest communal riots

Last updated on: September 08, 2013 20:44 IST

Incidents of communal violence in certain rural areas of Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh have claimed several more lives on Sunday, taking the death toll to 21.

Clashes between some members of the Jat and Muslim communities had broken out recently in parts of the communally-sensitive district.

As many as 800 army personnel were called in on Saturday midnight to assist civil authorities in containing the escalating violence.

"While the soldiers were busy handling the trouble in the three affected villages as well as parts of Muzaffarnagar city, from where incidents of arson and violence had been reported, the situation worsened at Sukwa-Sukwi village on Sunday morning," Principal Home Secretary R M Srivastava told Reuters.

 He said, "We had sought assistance of the army last night after we found the violence spreading to other villages; in fact, we were able to bring things under control until fresh violence broke out in the village on Sunday morning."

 Meanwhile, curfew has been clamped in large parts of Muzaffarnagar and more troops are being sent to the district.

 "In order to curb the clashes, we are also making an effort to evacuate members of the community which is in a minority in a particular village or locality," the home secretary said. 

"What I mean is that if there is a small number of Muslims living in a Jat-dominated village, we are shifting them to a temporary camp. Similarly, Jats are being evacuated out of Muslim-dominated areas," he added.

Saturday's violence claimed the lives of ten people, including that of a TV journalist who was gunned down in the crossfire between the rival sides.

Nearly 35 people have been injured in the incidents of firing, stabbing and arson reported  across a few villages, following a public meeting held by the local Jat community  in Naglababad village of Muzaffarnagar district, nearly 140 km from Delhi.

The Jat group was demanding withdrawal of cases against members of their community, who had been booked over communal clashes in the neighbouring Kawal village on August 27, which left three people dead.

UP's Additional Director General of Police Arun Kumar said the communal flare-up started as a "scuffle over a trivial issue between three individuals but snowballed into a communal riot after those three got killed."

He told Reuters, "What flared up the violence ten days later on Saturday was the circulation of a doctored video depicting the killing of two Muslim youth in the August 27 clash."

On Saturday, TV channel IBN-7's journalist Rajesh Verma and Israr, a photographer hired by Muzaffarnagar police, were killed while they were returning after covering a meeting of Jats in Naglababad village.

While a stray bullet reportedly hit Verma, Israr was lynched to death by a mob in Sakeda village.

Communal clashes have also been reported from other villages in the neighbourhood . Five people were injured when members of two communities pelted stones at each other in Basiakla village. Violence and arson was reported from Ilmanspur village where a government vehicle was set afire.

Director General of Police Devraj Nagar, who has been camping in Muzaffarnagar since Saturday morning, blamed the violence on “mischief mongers” who wanted to foment communal trouble in the state. 

"No one will be allowed to take law into their hands or disturb peace and tranquillity," he declared.

Photo: The army conducts a flag march in violence-hit Muzaffarnagar 

Sharat Pradhan