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Tense Meerut erupts,six hurt in clash with police at banned mahapanchayat

Angry mob,started pelting stones and damaged nine vehicles of police and administration.

Written by Amit Sharma | Meerut |
September 30, 2013 8:23:21 pm

Days after the Muzaffarnagar riots,tension returned to the region once again on Sunday as villagers clashed with police forces at the venue of a mahapanchayat that had been banned by the administration in neighbouring Meerut district.

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At least 6 people,including policemen and a woman,were injured in the clash and the police had to lob teargas shells and open fire in the air to control the situation. According to the administration,the Army has been asked to stay alert.

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Officials said a large number of villagers,including several women carrying their children,had gathered in Khera village in Sarghana for the mahapanchayat to protest against the arrest and slapping of National Security Act on local BJP MLA Sangeet Singh Som in connection with the Muzaffarnagar violence.

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Secretary (Home) Kamal Saksena said the mahapanchayat had been called by Som’s wife and his brother.

Apart from banning it on Friday,the district administration late Saturday night had also managed to persuade Som to appeal from the Orai jail to his supporters to postpone the mahapanchayat by a week. Following this,the organisers too assured the police and paramilitary forces stationed there that they were not going ahead with their programme. But the message did not apparently reach the 24 villages,dominated by Thakurs,Som’s community,as by then people had started gathering at the venue.

By 11 am on Sunday,a huge crowd had gathered at the spot,and the villagers decided to go ahead and hold the mahapanchayat. They reiterated their demands for withdrawal of NSA on Som and immediate release of hundreds of “innocents” arrested for the riots.

Trouble erupted after the mahapanchayat when some people in the crowd shouted anti-government slogans and hurled stones at the police forces. Following this,the police first lobbed teargas shells and lathicharged the crowd.

The mob set ablaze the OB van of a news channel and damaged the official cars of Meerut Commissioner Manjit Singh and SSP Deepak Kumar. As the violence continued,the police opened fire in the air.

“The mahapanchayat was banned and section 144 imposed yet people assembled in large numbers at Kheda leaving the police with no option but to use force against them,” said DIG K Satyanarain,who was present at the spot along with top district administration officials.

Meerut District Magistrate Navdeep Rinwa said the situation is under control and the Army has been asked to stay alert. He said the police did not resort to firing or lobbing of teargas shells until it was feared that the mob could attack the senior police and administration officers present there.

IG (Law and Order) R K Vishwakarma said 24 persons have been arrested in connection with the violence and police are in the process of lodging FIRs against the miscreants.

(Inputs from ENS,Lucknow)

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