HOURS AFTER a video of at least a dozen people opening fire, apparently from the premises of a temple in Ghaziabad’s Masuri area, went viral, a police case was registered against unknown persons for breaching conditions of their arms licence.
The incident, believed to be a ‘show of strength’ on the occasion of Dussehra, has led to tension in Masuri, which has a large population of Muslims and where communal clashes five years ago had led to six deaths.
“An FIR has been registered under Section 30 of the Arms Act (punishment for contravention of licence or rule) against 25-30 unknown persons on the basis of a complaint given by a police chowki in-charge. We are going through video footage of the incident and identifying people. No person was injured but the act was a violation of the Arms Act,” said Satyendra Prakash Singh, Station House Officer, Masuri police station, Ghaziabad.
The incident allegedly took place at Dasna Devi temple — located around 4 km from the Masuri police station — between 11 am and noon on Saturday, police said. Some locals claimed similar firing on Dussehra takes place every year.
Mahant Yatinarsinganand, the caretaker of the Dasna Devi temple, said: “I have been the mahant of the temple for 12 years, and every Dussehra, people visit the temple and worship weapons. The ritual is to bring the licensed weapons to the temple, worship them, take blessings and fire two-three rounds in the air. I was present when all this happened on Saturday. This is an annual religious ritual and we have never faced any problems before. There has never been any kind of restriction from police and administration as far as this celebration is concerned. This is an ancient temple where Goddess Kali is worshipped and people offer their weapons to seek her blessings.”
The mahant alleged a conspiracy behind the FIR. “I would not want to name any other community but there is a law and order problem when other festivals are observed. Why is no action taken then?” he said.
A resident who lives near Bilal Masjid in Masuri questioned the intent behind the firing. “This area has seen communal violence in the past, and it is very sensitive. This kind of show of strength, with several rounds of bullets being fired, is aimed at increasing communal tension here,” the resident alleged.
In 2012, Masuri had seen clashes after a police station was burnt following the discovery of a desecrated copy of the Quran. In the riots that followed, six people were killed and 12 were injured.