Fresh communal clashes broke out in Muzaffarnagar district Wednesday evening as Muslims and Jats from neighbouring villages shot at each other,killing three Muslim youths and wounding several.
In a separate incident in Foghana,about 25 km away,a Hindu woman was killed after unidentified persons attacked her and her husband while they were returning home on a motorcycle. Police sources said they were yet to establish a link between the two incidents.
Sixty-three people,46 of them Muslim,were killed in the first wave of violence in the region last month. Thousands continue to live in relief camps after fleeing their villages in the aftermath of the clashes.
The Jats belonged to Mohammadpur Raisingh village,which is under the jurisdiction of Bhaurakalan police station,while the victims belonged to Hussainpur village,which is under the jurisdiction of Budhana police station.
Hundreds of angry villagers surrounded the Budhana police station Wednesday evening following the killings and police were trying to defuse the situation late into the night.
Five companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary and police personnel from neighbouring districts have been rushed to control the situation.
Rajendra Fauji of Mohammadpur Raisingh village was working in his field when a group of men from the adjacent Hussainpur village attacked him. But he somehow managed to escape and informed residents of his village who rushed to the spot armed with firearms, Uttar Pradesh Additional DG (Law & Order),Mukul Goel,told The Indian Express.
He said residents of Mohammadpur Raisingh village spotted the group from Hussainpur running towards a thicket close to Rajendras field and they fired at them. The other group retaliated and both groups fired at each other,killing three Muslims from Hussainpur, he said.
The three were identified as Ajmal,Meharban and Afroz. Rajendra was injured in his knees and admitted to hospital.
Police sources said Shahnawaz,the husband of the pradhan of Hussainpur,claimed the three youths had gone for some work when people from Mohammadpur Raisingh caught them and beat them to death.
We are investigating the exact reason behind the attack on Rajendra by the people from Hussainpur village. The Meerut Zone IG,Saharanpur Range DIG and Muzaffarnagar SSP are at the spot with heavy police force and there is no report about any further untoward incident so far, Goel said.
Muzaffarnagar District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma,who rushed to the spot with senior police officers,said that at least seven arrests had been made. FIRs have been registered and the police have arrested seven persons, Sharma said.
Bhaurakalan station officer O P Chaudhary said a preliminary inquiry had found that retired armyman Rajendra was working in his field when he was attacked by a group of unidentified persons,who beat him with sticks and butts of rifles.
He said Rajendra managed to reach his motorcycle and rode to to his village and informed people. The villagers armed with guns and sticks came to the field and caught three of the youths while others had escaped.
One of the youths was carrying a rifle. angry villagers lynched three of the youths using butts of rifles and sticks. The bodies were recovered from the thickets bordering both villages, he said.
The region,sources said,had seen violence last month too and many had fled villages in the area. The two villages also have a history of violent rivalry,they said.