At least six people including a journalist and a photographer were killed on Saturday and 34 injured in clashes between members of two communities in the district, where tension has been simmering since violence in Kawal village 10 days ago.
IBN7 Lucknow correspondent Manoj Rajan speaking to Firstpost said that a 10-column contingent of the army had been moved in to control the violence in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh. "The UP government has imposed an indefinite curfew in Civil lines, Kotwali and Nai Mandi area of Muzaffarnagar. The situation is under control for now," he said.
The state government has also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the deceased.
A freelance journalist associated with IBN7, Rajesh Verma, was shot dead in the Kotwali police station area. In another incident of violence, a photographer, Israr, who was hired by the police, was beaten to death in Thana Sikhera area. Both the media personnel were killed while covering the clashes.
Verma was attempting to shoot footage of the unrest in Abupura area when he was shot in the chest, IBN 7 Lucknow Bureau Chief Shalabh Mani Tripathi told Firstpost.
Tension has been running high since three people were killed in Kawal village on 27 August. Five companies each of the PAC and Rapid Action Force (RAF) have been deployed in the area.
ADG Law and Order Arun Kumar confirmed the death of six people during the clashes while maintaining that the situation is under control. "All the senior officers are at the spot and curfew has been imposed in three police station areas. We have taken ample precautions. Additional PAC force has been sent. The situation is tense but is under control," Kumar said.
The violence in Muzaffarnagar is steeped in a clash between two communities in Kawaal village on August 27 and a fake video that went viral after it was uploaded on the internet.
It began with a petty quarrel on 27 August between Gaurav, a Jat, and Shahnawaz, a Muslim."The quarrel deepened and Gaurav called a cousin, Sachin, for help. According to the FIR, the duo attacked Shahnawaz with knives and killed him. But then members of the other community caught Gaurav and Sachin and lynched them," a police officer told Indian Express.
IBN7 Lucknow Bureau chief said that Saturday’s incidents occurred as a meeting was being held in Naglabadhod where around 1.5 lakh people had gathered in defiance of prohibitory orders to demand withdrawal of cases registered in connection with the 27 August Kawal violence, whose probe has now been handed over to a Special Task Force (STF),
Five persons were injured when members of two communities pelted stones at each other in Basiakla village. In Ilmanspur village, a mob set a vehicle on fire.
Meanwhile, crime branch today arrested ex-Jansath block head, Virender Singh, for an alleged provocative speech during the last meeting on 31 August. Singh is a cousin of Shashank Shekhar Singh, who was former Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Secretary in the previous Mayawati government in the state. According to DSP JR Joshi, the ex-block head was arrested for allegedly participating in an “unauthorised meeting” while prohibitory orders were in force in the area.
Calling the incidents of clashes unfortunate, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said that the culprits will not be spared. "All senior officers are working to bring the situation under control in Muzaffarnagar. We have given order to take strict action if required. Curfew has also been imposed in certain places. I appeal to the people to maintain peace and do not believe in rumours. Action will be taken against those who try to disturb the peace and order," Yadav said.
There are unconfirmed reports that two people have been killed in clashes in Meerut too.