Sept. 7: A freelance television journalist and a police photographer were among six persons killed today as simmering tension between two groups snowballed in Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh, prompting authorities to sound a state-wide alert.
The administration clamped prohibitory orders in three police station areas of the western Uttar Pradesh town and sent in reinforcements while chief minister Akhilesh Yadav appealed for peace.
“Stern action would be taken against the accused persons. But I make a strong appeal to maintain calm,” the Samajwadi Party leader said asking people not to heed rumours.
Additional director-general of police Arun Kumar said five companies each of the Rapid Action Force and the Provincial Armed Constabulary had been sent to Muzaffarnagar to control the situation which remained tense till late tonight.
Today’s violence, the latest in a series in the state since Akhilesh assumed office in March last year, came 11 days after clashes had claimed three lives in Kawal, a village on the district’s border.
Sources said the violence broke out in Kawal around 8 this evening when a group on its way back from a panchayat meeting clashed with another.
Rajiv Verma, 28, the freelance journalist, was caught in the crossfire, the police said. He died on the spot.
The photographer hired by the police, Eqrar Ahmed, was beaten to death by a mob.
Officials in Lucknow said that four other persons were killed and curfew had been clamped in the Civil Lines, Kotwali and Nai Mandi areas of Muzaffarnagar town. At least 34 people were injured in the fresh flare-up.
The government sounded an alert across the state late this evening.
The crime branch has arrested one Virender Singh for an alleged provocative speech at a meeting on August 31.
Singh is the cousin of Shashank Shekhar Singh, who was Uttar Pradesh cabinet secretary in the previous Mayawati government.