A group of Muslims from Bhumma village in Muzaffarnagar remained besieged in a mosque for half a day after it was surrounded by angry villagers protesting the killing of a Hindu youth nearby.
The Muslims were rescued on Tuesday afternoon after police dispersed the mob with a lathicharge and by firing shots in the air.
Trouble began Monday night after four motorcycle-borne assailants allegedly shot Satveer (25) outside his house in Bhumma. Soon, dozens of Hindus gathered outside the victim’s house to protest police inaction. Three policemen were reportedly in the area when the murder took place.
Police said the mob pelted stones and even fired weapons. “Several Muslims who live close to the area took refuge in the mosque. They remained there till Tuesday afternoon till we rescued them after dispersing the mob,” a senior police officer said.
He added that a police constable was injured in the mob rampage. The protesters also torched a vehicle and damaged several others.
Police said two of Satveer’s assailants — Yaqub and Monu — have been arrested. “We have arrested two persons, while a massive hunt is on to arrest the other two. The situation in the town is tense but under control,” said Rakesh Jolly, Superintendent of Police (Crime), Muzaffarnagar, who has camped in the area since Monday night.
Meanwhile, Satveer’s family blamed police inaction for his death. “He was shot dead in the presence of three policemen, including one inspector, but they did not even attempt to nab the culprits, who managed to flee,” Arjun, Satveer’s younger brother, told The Indian Express.
Following the incident, the station house officer of Meerapur police station, Shoaib, and three other policemen posted there have been suspended by SSP H N Singh.
Villagers are demanding that a murder case be lodged against them.
“A compensation of Rs 5 lakh has been announced from the Chief Minister’s discretionary fund, while a note has also been forwarded to the government for a job for his younger brother Arjun. The locals demanded a compensation of Rs 25 lakh initially but a settlement was reached,” said Ram Kishan Sharma, ADM (Finance).
This is the third incident that has led to communal tension in western Uttar Pradesh in recent times.
On June 27, in Rampur Maliharan in Saharanpur, one Wasim died in cross-firing between two communities. In Bhojpur, Ghaziabad, the next day, 18 persons were injured following a row over the use of loudspeakers in a temple next to a mosque during evening prayers.