More than two dozen men from the Muslim community have been arrested in Purbaliyan village of Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar district for allegedly causing communal clashes on 21 and 24 August, reports said. Out of the twenty-seven men arrested, three have been charged under the stringent National Security Act (NSA).
Mansoorpur SHO KPS Chahal told The Indian Express that a fight broke out “between some Muslim and Hindu boys” on 21 August, in which a Muslim boy was left injured. A group of people from the community subsequently went to the home of one Hindu boy and allegedly began assaulting people.
On 22 August, the father of the Hindu boy involved in the fight filed an FIR against a dozen Muslim men and 20 unidentified ones were charged of trespassing, causing hurt, damage and rioting.
On 24 August, a servant of a villager named Shamsher was allegedly beaten up by two masked men in an unrelated incident. The villager allegedly collected a group of people to attack the members of the majority community but an inspector’s presence averted the attack.
Later, another FIR was filed against 26 Muslim men under Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) of the Indian Penal Code, the Times of India had reported.
On 16 September, the NSA was invoked against Shamsher and three days later against his nephews Mehboob and Aftab. The police said around ten people involved in the clashes are still absconding. The circle officer of Khatauli, was quoted by the Times of India as saying that the servant had confessed to being prompted by his employer Shamsher to act like a victim so that a counter FIR could be filed. This, he argued, justified charging him under the NSA.
In total 38 Muslim men were booked by name and twenty more were unidentified. Twenty-eight men are in jail and out of these, three have been charged under the NSA. According to CNN-News18, locals say that the issue was not as large as the administration made it out to be and charging villagers under the National Security Act was excessive.
But BJP MP from Muzaffarnagar Sanjeev Balyan who had advocated invoking the NSA told The Indian Express, “What took place on 21 August was not a fight between boys but an attack inside the mohalla (locality). On 24 August, there was another attack in the presence of a police inspector, who was also attacked. After these incidents, it emerged that the Pal community is constantly harassed in this Muslim-majority village."
The NSA was invoked on the orders of District Magistrate of Muzaffarnagar and an official in the district administration said the primary reason was “creation of communal tension”, reported The Indian Express.
While the members of the Hindu Pal community in Purbaliyan had claimed to be on the receiving end of the violence, those from the Muslim community alleged that many of them were being randomly picked, arrested and forced to surrender under police pressure.
Purbaliyan in Uttar Pradesh is among the villages that saw skirmishes during the 2013 riots in Muzaffarnagar.
Updated Date: Sep 27, 2018 12:15 PM