While the official death toll in the violence that has gripped Muzaffarnagar since Saturday climbed to 34 on Tuesday,sources said the actual toll was likely to be more than 50. Police sources said 34 victims have been identified,but at least eight more unidentified bodies are reported to be in the district mortuary and still more in the mortuaries in Shamli and Meerut.
Postmortems have been conducted on 34 bodies at the Civil Hospital in Muzaffarnagar but there are eight bodies in the mortuary that are yet to be identified, said a senior official. He added that these bodies had been brought to the hospital over the last three days and that another victim had died of injuries in Meerut,where he had been sent for treatment on Sunday.
Sources said bodies of people killed near the Muzaffarnagar-Shamli and Muzaffarnagar-Meerut district borders too had been sent to other districts for postmortem. There have been some cases of bodies being found in fields surrounding villages,which have now been recovered. Some bodies were kept in the police stations for a day due to the constant violence outside, said a police official.
Even as sporadic incidents of violence were reported in the region,authorities relaxed curfew for two hours,from 3:30 pm- 5:30 pm,for the first time since Saturday. Residents of the busy industrial city came out in droves to stock up on essential supplies,particularly milk and cooking gas.
Curfew was relaxed for two hours in three areas of the city Kotwali,Nai Mandi and Civil Lines. This was done to allow residents to purchase essential supplies. The Army,paramilitary forces and the police maintained strict vigil throughout this period, said district magistrate R K Sharma.
However,curfew remained in force in Foghana and Shahpur limits,which have witnessed the most violence so far.
IGP (Law and Order) R K Vishwakarma said 137 people had been arrested for rioting since Saturday. We will arrest more people in the days to come and we have also registered cases against certain politicians who made inflammatory speeches and violated prohibitory orders, he said.
Sharma said 244 preventive arrests have been made in Muzaffarnagar,118 in Shamli,206 in Saharanpur,30 in Bulandshahr and 76 in Meerut.
Police sources said incidents of stone pelting and minor scuffles were reported in some villages including Shahpur and Makhyali.
Javed,a resident of Makhyali said,We heard gunshots at night and called the police immediately. They began patrolling the area after about 20 minutes. On Tuesday morning,some miscreants pelted stones and hurled abuses. He added that the disturbances were quelled after the police and paramilitary forces arrived.
Meanwhile,according to a PTI report,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday announced Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed in the violence and Rs 50,000 each to those seriously injured.
Police allege outsider hand
Apurva & Dipankar Ghose
Police say most of the perpetrators of the violence were locals but instigated by people from outside the district. They are concentrating on identifying such elements. From the information we have gathered,it seems there were some who propagated the attacks from outside Muzaffarnagar, an officer said.
No one of our village has been involved, said Ram Chandra,pradhan of Dongar. There has been violence in surrounding areas but nobody there recognises them.
And Jamshed Ali of Kutba said,We have all known one another for decades. But none of us has been able to identify those who attacked us Sunday.
Most of these villages have no history of communal violence. They couldnt have turned against each other without outside prompting, said a police officer.