Minutes before an unauthorised “Tiranga Yatra” on motorcycles entered Baddu Nagar in Kasganj, triggering a communal clash, residents of the Muslim-dominated locality had arranged chairs on the road and were getting ready to hoist the Tricolour on Republic Day, senior police officers and witnesses told The Sunday Express.
Members of the bike rally, however, demanded that the chairs be removed and a path cleared for them to move on, residents said. “They were shouting slogans, we requested them to let our celebrations finish first. But they were adamant and did not leave,” said Mohammed Munazir Rafi, a resident and advocate.
Speaking to The Indian Express, IGP Dhruva Kant Thakur, who reached Kasganj from Lucknow on Saturday morning, said, “Members of the Muslim community were about to hoist the national flag when the incident took place.”
A video in the possession of some residents of Baddu Nagar, purportedly of the incident, shows a group of around 60 people, with some of them carrying the Tricolour and saffron flags and shouting: “Bike toh yahin se jayegi (The bikes will pass through here).” A flag pole can be seen nearby.
”I had contributed Rs 200 for the Republic Day celebration here,” said Rafi.
”In the morning, I left home to attend the flag-hoisting ceremony at Kasganj court. When I returned, chairs had been arranged on the road for the Republic Day programme in our locality. Suddenly, a group of around 50-60 people arrived on bikes and started demanding that the chairs be removed. They were also shouting slogans,” he said.
After the group refused to leave, said the advocate, an argument ensued. “We asked them to join the celebration. But many people had gathered and soon, there was some pushing and shoving. Then they left their bikes here and went away. I called the Kasganj police station, and apprised them of the situation when they arrived 25 minutes later,” said Rafi.
According to Kasganj Additional SP Pavitra Mohan Tripathi, police separated the two groups. However, he said, the rally participants regrouped and took a detour to reach Tehsil road, another Muslim-dominated area, where residents thought they had arrived to retaliate. “This triggered the shooting incident in which a 28-year-old man was killed,” said Tripathi.
On Saturday evening, residents of Baddu Nagar said they were waiting for the situation to normalise before approaching police with their version.
”The situation could have been sorted out but it ended in a big problem,” said an elderly resident who did not wish to be named.
According to Rafi, a similar rally was organised on Independence Day last year. “But there was no problem as we had not put out chairs at that time. We are deshbhakts, and now we are being portrayed as deshdrohis. In the end, because of this situation, we could not hoist the Tricolour on Janaury 26,” he said.