Lucknow, Oct. 31: Four persons, including a young housewife, have died in Muzaffarnagar since last evening as violence flared again in the riot-scarred Uttar Pradesh district, less than two months after rampaging mobs killed dozens and left 40,000 homeless.
An alert police, however, responded fast this time, arresting eight alleged suspects and deploying additional forces to prevent an escalation.
Samajwadi Party boss Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose son Akhilesh heads the heartland government, directed officials to act tough where necessary. He told a television channel the state government knew how to “crush those who are spreading tension”.
“Communal harmony would be ensured at any cost. We are going to show no mercy to suspects, be he a Hindu or a Muslim,” Mulayam said.
In Delhi, the country’s top court today voiced concern over the fresh violence and said if necessary it might consider sending a fact-finding team to Muzaffarnagar.
“What’s happening? There are fresh reports in the newspapers that some four more people have died. We want to know what’s happening,” a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam told Ravi Prakash, the counsel for the state. “If needed, we may send an independent team for fact finding.”
The court is dealing with a petition that has sought central intervention and a CBI probe into the riots last month.
The counsel told the bench private disputes may have triggered the latest flare-up.
Police sources in Muzaffarnagar said three youths, all in their early twenties, died following what was apparently a retaliatory strike on Burana, a village under Hussainpur police station, after a farmer claimed that a group of 12 men attacked him in adjoining Bhorakala village.
Senior superintendent of police, Muzaffarnagar, H.N. Singh said the farmer, a retired army jawan, was among the eight men arrested in connection with the violence.
According to district officials, the three men who were killed had been staying at relief camps set up after the early-September riots and had returned home barely a fortnight ago, unlike hundreds still living in makeshift camps.
In the other incident at Phaguana, a village under Mohammadpur police station, a couple returning from a doctor’s chamber were attacked with knives and batons around 7.30pm yesterday. The woman, a 32-year-old housewife, bled to death at the spot.
Brajbhusan Sharma, IG, Meerut division, under which Muzaffarnagar falls, said the administration had deployed 200 armed guards, while Rapid Action Force personnel were patrolling the troubled areas.
The latest flare-up has erupted at a time the state has been trying to resettle the victims of last month’s violence by distributing financial assistance of Rs 90 crore to some 1,800 minority families still living in camps.
The National Human Rights Commission, which recommended the financial compensation, had asked the government to speed up the process of resettling the victims of the September violence that spread fast amid allegations that police were slow to crack down on the troublemakers.