A heavy deployment of policemen along the national highways and other routes leading to Moradabad prevented political leaders, from both the BJP and the Congress, from holding their rallies over the July 4 violence in the Kanth area of Moradabad.
The violence had taken place after the police had prevented a mahapanchayat to take place over the removal of loudspeaker from a local temple by the district administration.
On Saturday, the BJP had planned to carry a “protest rally” while the Congress had planned to counter it with a “peace march”. However, with political temperature rising and communal harmony frayed, those sitting inside the temple, which is at the heart of the controversy, said such “politics” had convoluted the issue.
The small temple at Akbarpur, a Muslim dominated village in the Kanth area of Moradabad, caters to the minority Hindu Jatav community which alleged the loudspeaker at the temple was removed forcibly by the police. “We just want the loud speaker to be reinstalled. We want to return to the way things were,” said Chandra Mohan, a Jatav shopkeeper.
BJP MPs Satyapal Saini, Yashwant Singh, Sarvesh Kumar, Rajendra Agarwal and Nepal Singh were detained by the police in Hapur. Congress leaders, including Madhusudan Mistry, Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Nagma, were detained near UP Gate in Ghaziabad.
BJP MLAs Lokendra (Noorpur) and Suresh Rana (Shamli) reached the Kanth police station where their FIR was received.
Moradabad Divisional Commissioner Shiv Shankar Singh said, “We will implement law and order.”
Mistry alleged the BJP was trying to create tension to reap political benefit and claimed that the Congress leaders were going to Moradabad to “normalise” the situation.
A group of BJP leaders, led by UP unit president Laxmikant Bajpayi, had managed to evade the police and staged a dharna at the residence of the Moradabad district magistrate.
“We are not fighting for the loudspeaker issue because that has already gone to the high court. We are fighting for the self-respect of our party MLAs, the way they were treated. We want an FIR to be lodged against SSP Dharamvir Yadav, Assistant Superintendent of Police Anil Kumar, Circle Officer Rahul and their co-officials. We will continue to protest till then,” said Bajpayi.
DM Deepak Aggarwal accepted the BJP’s complaint against the SSP. “We don’t want to make any statement or action that will fan communal tensions. Security is in place and we will continue to take all precautions,” he said.
Saturday’s protests came a day after 13 VHP leaders were detained by the police as they were planning to reinstall the loudspeaker at the temple. Authorities had Friday imposed Section 144 in Moradabad. But people of the area, worried about the situation getting worse, said they have had enough of politicians. “They aren’t really talking about our temple anymore. The loudspeaker had to be taken down because it had stopped working, but when we got a new one, the local administration took it off,” said Shrajeet Kumar, a resident of the village.