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Opposition claims Kasganj clash planned; UP govt denies

Leader of Opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary alleged that while Muslims, who were hoisting the Tricolour on January 26, asked the youths participating in the tiranga rally to join them, they were instead forced to chant ‘Vande Matram’ and ‘Jai Sri Ram’, following which the argument began.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow | Updated: February 10, 2018 1:50 am
UP: Tension resurfaces in Kasganj as place of worship gate set afire, 2 cops suspended Security forces patrol Kasganj town. (Express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

ALLEGING THAT the Kasganj communal clash was pre-planned and took place under protection of the police, Opposition parties on Friday staged a walkout from the state Assembly while demanding a debate and a probe into the incident by a sitting high court judge. Denying that the flare-up was communal, the state government, however, claimed that the incident was the fallout of a “spontaneous reaction” when the “traditional route” of a tiranga yatra was blocked by people, “who had not sought permission” to hold a Republic Day programme in the western UP town.

Armed with CDs of alleged CCTV footages and other videos of the incident, Leader of Opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary alleged that while Muslims, who were hoisting the Tricolour on January 26, asked the youths participating in the tiranga rally to join them, they were instead forced to chant ‘Vande Matram’ and ‘Jai Sri Ram’, following which the argument began.

Abhishek Gupta died of gunshot wounds after he was shot at during the motorcycle rally, leading to communal violence in the town. Muslims were deliberately attacked and police remained a mute spectator, Chaudhary alleged. “Yeh desh mein aag lagane ki suniyojit sazish thi, desh ko todne ki… Ek bhi na koi Hindi ki dukaan mein koi kharonch aayi, na kisi mandir mein koi khanroch aayi (It was a pre-planned attempt to set a fire in the country… to break the country… no temple or shop owned by any Hindu was touched),” the SP leader said.

“Police age age chal rahi thi, piche se musalmanon ki dukanein jalayi ja rahi thi… (As police teams were moving on… behind them, shops owned by Muslims were being set on fire),” he added. Targeting BJP, Chaudhary said that he wants to ask those who claim ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, if Muslims are a part of the country or not. “The VHP, Bajrang Dal and similar organisations deliberately did this…,” he claimed.

Demanding a compensation of Rs 50 lakh for the victim’s family, Chaudhary said that those affected in the violence should be compensated by the government without any discrimination, PTI reported.

Denying the allegations, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Khanna said that by taking the name of a particular community, the Opposition was trying to disturb harmony. He claimed that while his party never talks of communalism, the language used by the Opposition was creating such an environment.

Khanna claimed that blocking the route of the tiranga yatra by some individuals, who had not taken permission to hold their event despite Section 144 of the CrPC being in place in the area, was the actual reason behind the incident.

“The yatra was being taken out as per a 25-year tradition on the traditional route. Some persons blocked the way by putting chairs… When those taking out the yatra insisted on following the same route, an argument took place leading to clashes in which Abhishek alias Chandan Gupta died… Had they been given way for the yatra, the incident would not have happened…,” he said.

“As per a government order, permission is not required for any traditional yatra but for something new, permission needs to be taken,” he added. “It’s wrong to say police encouraged… FIR was lodged against the accused. The Opposition is trying to vitiate the atmosphere. We ensured that there is no reaction to this incident. Such incident is not a good thing for government. We ensured strict action and no undue harassment to anyone,” said Khanna.

Chaudhary went on to ask when Section 144 was in place, why was 200 motorcycle riders allowed to move freely on the streets with the Tricolour and the “bhagwa (saffron) flag”.

To this, Khanna started citing incidents of communal violence that had taken place during previous SP regime. Soon, SP members marched into the Well of the House raising slogans, prompting Speaker Hriday Narain Dixit to adjourn the House for 10 minutes initially and later extend it.

When the House again met, leaders from the Congress, BSP and SP repeated that they want a debate and a probe by a sitting HC judge. Khanna, in reply, said: “For a fair investigation, an SIT has already been formed.”
Alleging that Muslims were being “purposely humiliated” and the government, which is ordering a CBI probe for almost everything, was refusing to order a probe by a sitting HC judge, SP MLAs staged a walkout. Congress members led by Ajai Kumar Lallu, who alleged that “Kasganj was still burning”, also stooped into the Well of the House and later staged a walkout supporting SP’s demand. The BSP, too, staged a walkout over the issue.

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