19 days after riots,Kosi Kalan still shut

Traders allege police harassment; tension over mahapanchayat to be held today

Written by Faisal Fareed | Lucknow | Published:June 20, 2012 12:45 am

Nineteen days after Kosi Kalan in Mathura district witnessed communal riots,which claimed four lives,the shops continue to remain closed. There is fear,mistrust and allegations that the police have booked innocent persons.

Curfew was imposed immediately after the clashes. Day curfew was lifted on June 7. Two days ago,it was completely lifted. The local residents have formed a 41-member peace committee,which has given a call for a Mahapanchayat of people from neighbouring areas at Kokila Van,10 km from Kosi Kalan,on Wednesday to discuss the situation. Since the peace committee comprises mostly Hindus,the Muslims are apprehensive. On Sunday,a delegation met Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

Maulana Tahir,the local Imam who led the delegation to meet the CM,said,“We are apprehensive of the Mahapanchayat. It is being done to create fear and as a show of strength.” He said people from adjoining villages are being invited to the Mahapanchayat,which could lead to tension.

The violence in the area broke out over a petty fight. Twenty-one FIRs were lodged. The district magistrate and superintendent of police were transferred. The local Vyapar Mandal, an association of traders,is critical of the police. Traders allege that those named in the FIRs are either businessmen or their relatives,who were not involved in the violence. And with the police conducting raids,they are unable to open shops.

On Sunday,a meeting was held at the initiative of local MLA Thakur Tejal Singh,and it was decided that shops would open on Monday. But not a single shop opened. On Tuesday,the peace committee members tried to persuade traders to open shops,but they were stopped by the district administration,fearing trouble.

Former BJP minister and president of Vyapar Mandal Ravikant Garg said the shops would remain closed till the administration expunges FIRs lodged against traders.

“The traders suffered the maximum during the riots,their shops were gutted. Now they have been implicated. The administration should revoke the FIRs,only then peace will return,” said Garg.

Lalit Arora,convener of Kosi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti,said that many cross-FIRs were lodged and these,too,should be deleted. “We are ready to submit affidavits to withdraw the cases against each other,” said Arora.

Ruling out revoking FIRs lodged against traders, Mathura SSP N Padmaja said,“If any trader is named in the FIR,he cannot escape by not opening his shop.”

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