Muzaffarnagar death toll mounts to 31 as violence spreads to more UP areas; Akhilesh sees political conspiracy

riot-hit Muzaffarnagar.jpg

Muzaffarnagar/Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh was on Monday on the edge struggling to contain communal flare-up as the death toll in Muzaffarnagar rose to 31 and violence spread to neighbouring Shamli and other districts even as curfew remained in force and army staged flag marches for the second consecutive day.
Under all round attack, the Akhilesh Yadav government late in the evening announced setting up of an inquiry commission headed by (retired) Justice Vishnu Sahai to probe the Muzaffarnagar violence, state Home Secretary Kamal Saxena told reporters in Lucknow.
"The death toll in the violence in Muzaffarnagar and other areas has climbed to 31," Principal Secretary Home R.M. Srivastava told PTI.
Violence spread to neighbouring district of Shamli where a 40-year-old Imam of a mosque, Maulana Umar Din, was shot dead, Shamli District Magistrate P.K. Singh said.
Concerned over the incidents, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and assured him of all help from the Centre to deal with the situation.
Union Home Ministry asked Uttar Pradesh government to send Muzaffarnagar situation report every 12 hours. It also asked the state government to deploy enough forces in rural areas in the district where violence is yet to be contained. Seventeen FIRs have been lodged in connection with the incidents.
One of the FIR is relating to the Mahapanchayat held in Sukheda village in which provocative speeches were allegedly made, leading to the violence.
Centre had alerted 11 states following intelligence inputs about possible communal incidents, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said.
"I don't think he (Akhilesh Yadav) ignored these warnings," he said on being asked whether the chief minister was to blamed for the violence. Union Minister Ajit Singh and three BJP MPs including Ravi Shankar Prasad were stopped from visiting the troubled district and detained by the Ghaziabad police when they attempted to enter the state.
Akhilesh sees political conspiracy
Alleging that communal clashes was a political conspiracy, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Monday said it was an attempt to defame and destabilise his government.
"The violence is a political conspiracy to defame and destabilise my government which is doing a good job for the poor, the youths and all sections of the society," he told reporters here.
"Political parties are trying to find ways to attack the government and this they have done in the past also. Earlier, in Shamli they have tried to vitiate the atmosphere of the state but it was thwarted," Akhilesh said.
On the Centre seeking a report on the violence, the Chief Minister said he had spoken to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Governor and apprised them about the situation in Muzaffarnagar.
"I have assured them that peace and harmony will be maintained as soon as possible. We have already taken action and removed officers and are doing whatever is possible," Akhilesh said on the sidelines of a function to flag off the first batch of Haj pilgrims from the state. "Our priority at the moment is to maintain peace. Strict action will be taken against those found guilty," he said.

A girl, injured in the communal clashes, is taken to a hospital in the violence-hit Muzaffarnagar - PTI
A blame game erupted with the opposition accusing the state government of failing to act in time to prevent the violence and the ruling Samajwadi Party hitting back, saying its rivals were trying to stir up communal trouble.
In an overnight crackdown, over 200 people were arrested and 1000 persons booked, including BJP legislative party leader Hukum Singh, party MLAs Suresh Rana, Bhartendu, Sangeet Som and former Congress MP Harendra Malik for violating prohibitory orders. Authorities cancelled 1,744 arms licenses in Bhorkala, Shahpur, Phugana and ome other areas of the district.
Under fire over the violence, UP government transferred top police officials, including Saharanpur DIG, SSP Muzaffarnagar and SP Shamli. Violence-hit Muzaffarnagar lies in Saharanpur range.
"We are also cancelling more arms licenses in Phugana, Shahpur, Dhaurakalan as they were misused during the violence," ADG, Law and Order, Arun Kumar told reporters in Muzaffarnagar.
UP Governor BL Joshi has sent a report on the Muzaffarnagar violence to the Centre, which, sources said in Lucknow, has details regarding the administrative lapses as well as the situation prevailing there.
Muzaffarnagar District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said one person was stabbed to death in Meerapur town of Muzaffarnagar district on Monday.
"One person was stabbed to death and one other injured when some miscreants attacked them," Sharma said, adding that at least six people have been taken into police custody for interrogation in this connection.
One person was also killed in Saharanpur, officials said, adding that a body was found in Titawi. Army staged flag marches in Shahpur, Khautauli, Purkazi, Maripur, and Shamli areas, officials said. Union Minister of State for Home R.P.N Singh said 5,000 paramilitary force personnel have already been sent to violence-hit areas of Uttar Pradesh, in addition to Army personnel.
"If necessary, we are ready to provide more forces," he said in Delhi.
The National Human Rights Commission said it will look into cases of communal riots in Muzaffarnagar once the situation returns to normal. NHRC Chairperson K.G. Balakrishnan said the Commission would take cognisance of alleged rights violation, if any, reported from the affected areas.
Attacking the UP government, Ajit Singh said, "There was an incident in Shamli prior to this incident. Had the administration taken appropriate steps at that time and made the people feel that justice would prevail, then this situation would not have happened."
Later, the Civil Aviation Minister and his son Jayant Choudhary, an MP from Mathura, decided to return to Delhi. The BJP alleged that the UP administration under the Samajwadi Party government had acted in a discriminatory manner. BSP supremo Mayawati also attacked the SP government, accusing it of lapses on several fronts.

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