Campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections in Muzaffarnagar came to a close Tuesday evening, giving way to innuendo and rumours. Barely 36 hours before polling is slated to begin in western UP, the district administration and police are on their toes in a city that witnessed communal violence in September last year.
It began soon after campaigning ceased at 5 pm. Sources in the police said that unidentified people had distributed pamphlets in the city seeking votes to ‘save Islam’. “The pamphlets were reported to the police but we have not been able to identify who spread them. The city is under tight security to prevent any untoward incident during the polling process,” a senior police officer said.
Two people in the city were killed on September 7 last year after riots between Muslims and Jats erupted across the region. Muzaffarnagar remained under curfew for days before it was relaxed. According to the police, rumours of one community attacking another had intensified the clashes in September. “Rumours have continued since then but with the involvement of community leaders sentiments were calmed down,” a senior police officer said.
As per police sources, photographs of the two Jat youths who died in Kawaal area during the Muzaffarnagar riots, Sachin and Gaurav, were uploaded on Facebook. The police said the photographs showed the mutilated bodies of the two youths. A number of people from Muzaffarnagar were tagged with the photographs. The police said the photographs had allegedly been uploaded by a person in Meerut.
Fearing communal violence again, the police have deployed additional forces in sensitive areas.
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“As elections near, such small incidents are becoming more frequent. This is a very sensitive issue and we are handling it very carefully, as one false move on our part can make things worse,” said a senior police officer.
A Muslim community leader, who did not want to be identified, said they were working hard on quelling such rumours just before polling.
Sources in the police admitted that miscreants were attempting to take advantage of the tension.
“There have been reports from police stations in the constituency and we have even lodged a few cases,” a senior official said.