Fearing curfew, residents of Muslim-dominated areas began to panic buy essential items, including food and medicines, even as Meerut appeared to be limping back to normal a day after three people were shot at during a communal clash over erecting a fence around a well outside a mosque at Teergaraan locality here.
Shops, except provisional and medical stores, remained closed on Sunday, but the streets were not deserted with heavy deployment of police, RAF and PAC personnel in the riot-affected areas. However, a sense of mutual distrust prevailed in localities having mixed population.
“While earlier, people usually bought one kg of grains and pulses, today the minimum order for each item was around three kg,” said Haji Mohammed Ayub, who owns a provisional store at Ismailganj here.
Principal Secretary (Home) A K Gupta and Uttar Prasesh police chief Anand Kumar Bannerjee reached Meerut Sunday morning “on directives of the Chief Minister” to take stock of the situation and “instil” confidence among the locals. The two officers spent nearly four hours in the city even as polling for the last phase of the general elections was scheduled for Monday. They visited affected areas and also met the injured, besides calling on BJP MP Rajendra Agarwal, minister, SP candidate Shahid Manjoor and others at the Circuit House.
“Five persons, including the three who were shot at by a mob, were injured during the riots. I admit there had been security lapse on part of the local administration, but the situation is under control as additional forces moved in from New Delhi,” Gupta told reporters here.
He said police pockets, withdrawn from sensitive areas in the city two years ago, would again be deployed to “ensure that nothing untoward can happen in the future.”
Even as normalcy was returning to Meerut, which has been prone to riots, people were still apprehensive. “On Saturday, over a dozen similarly dressed youths opened fire from country-made pistols. This shows that riots were pre-planned and would continue to recur if proper security arrangements were not made,” said Agarwal, the sitting BJP MP.