In September 2013, as Shamli and Muzaffarnagar burned around them, the small town of Kandhla was largely untouched, with leadership working overtime to keep the peace.
On Sunday, a day after 17 people were injured in a clash between the police and a mob protesting at Kandhla railway station against the alleged assault on five members of Tablighi Jamaat, the local leadership is yet again asking people to stay calm and united. The markets remained open on Sunday.
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Amit Garg, member of the local traders’ union said, “Meetings are being held all over…and one of the points of consensus was that the town must not look like it is under curfew.” Most people blamed politics for the latest tension.
“There are forces at play that want to communalise the situation. They have targeted Kandhla because it has stayed peaceful so far,” said Ranjit Singh, who owns land near the police station that was allegedly attacked by the mob.
According to Arshad Kandhalvi, maulana at Madarsa Islamia Suleimana at Kandhla, things took a violent turn because of the “designs of the administration”. “First, there was misbehaviour against those of the Jamaat in the train (Saharanpur-bound Janta Express). Some people protested by blocking a train which happens everywhere. When district administration assured people, they began to leave. A small group of youths was left behind and some trouble ensued. Police fired at them and that caused people to get angry, even as both Hindus and Muslims told people to calm down. At the police station, the administration destroyed its property to make a case against Muslims,” he added.
Khandalvi said the aim of “engineering the events” was to create a division among the people. “They have registered a case against 2,000 people. Now, the police can identify and arrest anybody. Then, Muslims might get angry and protest again. This is how an environment is created, and was created in Muzaffarnagar. We are talking to our Hindu brothers. We have to guard against this narrative,” Kandhalvi said.
In the Hindu quarters, many questioned why the Jamaat members came to Kandhla station if the alleged incident happened near Badaut, but agreed that “people are trying to create trouble”. “There was no need for MLA Nahid Hasan to organise the Rail roko. But it doesn’t matter what the story is. It is clear that people are trying to create trouble. Some in the town went around claiming that the train had been set afire like in Godhra. These rumours are dangerous and we have to work together to prevent these political people from breaking us apart,” said Ghanshyam Choudhary, a shopkeeper near Kandhla bus station.
Meanwhile, the RPF lodged an FIR against Samajwadi Party MLA Nahid Hasan and 2,000 unidentified people Sunday. Hasan claimed he has been wrongly named. “I went there as police requested me to pacify the mob,” he said.
Shamli Superintendent of Police Vijay Bhushan said two FIRs were filed on Saturday night. While 150 unidentified people have been booked in connection with a case of arson at the police station, another 2,000 have been booked for pelting stones at the police, sources said.
Former chairman of Kandhla Nagar Palika and BSP worker, Haji Islam, has been named in both cases.
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