An uneasy calm on Sunday prevailed in violence-hit Saharanpur where 20 people were arrested even as political blame game began with Congress accusing the UP government of “administrative lapse” while BJP alleged that Samajwadi Party was indulging in “vote-bank politics”.
Meanwhile, curfew and shoot-at-sight orders remained in force following clashes between two communities over a land dispute.
Uttar Pradesh Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Mukul Goel said, “No incident has been reported since yesterday. Curfew is in force and is being enforced strictly.”
He said steps were being taken to normalise the situation at the earliest. “It has been directed that action should be taken against whosoever is found guilty,” he said in Lucknow.
Saharanpur District Magistrate Sandhya Tiwari, who toured the violence-hit areas, said, “The situation is better than yesterday. I have to just impose law and order in the city and the situation is quite normal now.”
She said 20 people have been arrested in connection with the violence.
On the land dispute, Tiwari said, “I’m not going into it….The construction is on hold.”
Three persons were yesterday killed and 19 others, including policemen, injured in the clashes as mobs indulged in arson after which curfew was clamped and shoot-at-sight ordered.
Section 144 invoked
Prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC have been invoked in the district and curfew was clamped in six areas, according to Commissioner, Saharanpur, Tanveer Zafar Ali.
Additional forces, including from PAC, CRPF, RAF and ITBP have been deployed in the troubled areas.
Trouble began when members of one community started construction work at the site in Kutubsher area in the wee hours on Saturday, which was objected to by the other group.
Both the sides indulged in heavy brick-batting, arson and opened fire and there were reports of several shops being gutted in the clash, police said.
Blame game begins
Blaming the local authorities for “administrative lapse”, Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi said that if it was a fact that there was a court judgement on the issue and police help was sought by one side, then it was the responsibility of the officials to find a solution by making both sides understand that the court order must be implemented.
Reacting to the charges, Samajwadi Party said there was an effort to “disrupt peace in the state” and that there was “no place for communalism, anti-social elements”.
SP leader Rajendra Chaudhary said that if the opposition tried to do politics on the issue, then the law will take its own course.
Govt announces financial aid
Saharanpur is nearly 170 km from national capital Delhi and 560 km from state capital Lucknow.
Uttar Pradesh government has announced financial aid of Rs 10 lakh each for the next of kin of the three persons killed in the clashes.
An official spokesman also said that Rs 50,000 will be given to the injured and added that the state government has sought a report on the incident from the district administration.
In Lucknow, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav termed the incident as “unfortunate” and said that those responsible will not be spared.