A drive to Muzaffarnagar is usually a pleasant experience. Its the place you cross if you are travelling from delhi to the holy town of Haridwar. A place where you can get good sugarcane, or products made out of sugarcane. Yet, this time around,as I come to this place, it's different from what we have been used to seeing over the years.
Muzaffarnagar, heart of sugarcane territory, today resembles a war zone.
In Muzaffarnagar town, you will only see police vans and army trucks on the road. There has been a very tense environment here since 27 August, when three murders shook the area.
Locals say a girl from one community was being teased by boys of another community. When the girl's brother saw this, he tried to dissuade the perpetrators. He only ended up being beaten to death. When the girl tried to run away, she was beaten up and murdered as well.
As news spread in villages around Muzaffarnagar, large crowds started to gather. Community members from the murdered duo's side came together and killed one of those who was indulging in misbehaviour with the girl. It led to calls for a Mahapanachayat or a convention of jats and upper caste members.
The convention was named " bahu bachao, beti bachao". " Save your daughters and daughters in law". Politicians quickly got into the act as well. The BJP, Congress and Bhartiya Kisan union were all quick to get into this. On 7 September, after the convention was over, suddenly there was mayhem all around. Those who had come to attend it, were attacked while returning from the meeting by members of another community. Soon the matter was converted into a full blown conflict between two communities. End result: 28 human lives lost and scores injured.
But what is worse is the realisation that it may take many days before the communal fire that has been lit is finally controlled. In the villages of Shamli, Bagpat and Kairana, tension is running high. Many families here have experienced communal flareups earlier as well. But this time around they say there was something different. It was almost as if the state was itching for a flare up.
No wonder then, that home minister Sushilkumar Shinde is saying he warned UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav at 12.30pm on the afternoon of 7 September. Perhaps, Akhilesh Yadav did not heed his advice.
For the man who was heralded in with much fanfare to be crowned as UP's youngest CM last year, this really is a trial by fire. Mulayam Singh Yadav made a name for himself during the Mandir masjid era of the 1990s, his son Akhilesh, perhaps will now be remembered for his handling or the lack of it of communal flareups in 2013.
Updated Date: Sep 09, 2013 16:34 PM