A five-member fact-finding team of the Uttar Pradesh BJP, including MLA Suresh Rana, who is an accused in the Muzaffarnagar riot, visited Saharanpur Wednesday and alleged that the riots in the area were “pre-planned” and that the administration had acted in a one-sided manner, “surrendering to the rioters”. DIG of Anti-Terror Squad Deepak Ratan, however, said prima facie there was no evidence of “prior planning” in the violence on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Moharram Ali Pappu, a former councillor, was Wednesday arrested for fuelling the riots and booked under the National Security Act (NSA). He had filed a petition in the court stating that the land purchased by Sri Guru Singh Sabha had a mosque built over it and must not be used by the gurdwara.
The fact-finding team met the families of the victims and assessed the damage caused to property. “The state government failed completely, rioting went on for hours. If the mob had gathered at 4 am, why did the local authorities wait for the violence to continue till 8 am,” Rana said.
He added that WhatsApp messages show that certain local leaders were making speeches here, but haven’t been arrested.
DIG Ratan said prima facie there doesn’t seem to be any possibility of pre-planning. “One of the main reasons why people think that the violence was pre-planned is that the violence began very early. But in the month of Ramzan people here wake early to offer their prayers and it is in fact not unnatural that the violence too, fuelled by rumour, began early,” he told The Indian Express.
“But we are looking at the matter from all possible angles. It’s still too early to say anything,” he added.
The BJP fact-finding team will submit a report in three days to BJP president Amit Shah and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and has stated their intention to raise the issue in parliament.
“The law and order situation is improving… curfew was relaxed for five hours Wednesday. If the situation remains stable, then we will relax curfew in the entire district from 10 am to 5 pm Thursday,” Saharanpur DM Sandhya Tiwari said.
The market is considered the largest cloth market in Asia and it houses a number of textile units and factories.