Members of Muslim and Dalit communities engaged themselves in an hour-long clash Sunday afternoon in Muzaffarnagar’s Shernagar village — one of the sites of 2013 communal riots — over a road accident that had taken place earlier in the day.
The clash left 24 persons, five of them women, injured while six motorcycles whose owners are Muslims and a shop of a Dalit man were damaged, police said. An officer said a total of 11 persons — from both communities — have been arrested in connection with the violence.
Heavy police force has been deployed in both Shernagar and the adjoining Bilaspur village (from where the attackers came) to maintain calm. Senior Superintendent of Police K B Singh said “life in the village is coming back to normal” and adequate police and PAC personnel have been deployed.
Additional SP Muzaffar-nagar, Pradeep Gupta, who confirmed the number of arrests, said the police were still collecting details about those who instigated people into resorting to violence.
Giving details, station officer of Nai Mandi police station, Arun Kumar Singh said the trouble started around 2 pm when one Zahid (25) of Bilaspur village and his mother Haseena (55) were visiting Shernagar to meet one of their relatives when the motorbike that Zahid was riding hit a local, identified as Bittu, a Dalit. Bittu was reportedly carrying his two-year-old son Manjit in the lap who fell and suffered injuries on the head after being hit by the bike, the SO said.
An angry Bittu beat up Zahid over “rash driving” and was soon joined in by others. When Zahid’s mother intervened, she was allegedly pushed away by some people, Singh added. The mother-son duo somehow managed to free themselves and left for their village where Zahid informed his other family members about the incident.
The SO added that a group of about 40 persons riding motorcycles reached Shernagar village, looted sharp-edged weapons from an iron smith and then went about attacking anyone they met on the way.
The mob dragged people out of their shops and homes, to which the locals responded by pelting stones from the roof tops. There were also reports of exchange of fire.
Officers from the Nai Mandi police station, which is located a kilometre and a half away from Shernagar, rushed to the scene but failed to control the rioters who had outnumbered them. Later, additional police force had to be brought in to control the situation. A senior official, who was part of the special investigation team that had investigated into the cases related to 2013 communal riots, told The Indian Express that violence then had occurred in Shernagar village as well, when a Muslim, a truck driver from Bulandshahr, was killed and several others left injured.