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Curfew after three die in UP clash

New Delhi, July 26: Indefinite curfew was imposed in six areas of Saharanpur district in west Uttar Pradesh today after three persons were killed in communal clashes over a disputed plot.

Police said violence erupted this morning when members of one community began construction on the plot in Kutubsher area, about 180km from Delhi. Members of the other immediately protested, demanding that the work be stopped.

A heated altercation ensued, leading to both sides pelting each other with stones. They then opened fire and torched several shops, the police said.

A large contingent of police and para-paramilitary personnel has been deployed in the area. The police fired rubber bullets to control the mobs, which went on the rampage and set shops ablaze. Curfew was clamped in the afternoon after several cases of arson were reported.

A policeman reportedly suffered bullet injuries and is admitted in a government-run hospital in Saharanpur.

The situation in the neighbouring Moradabad district is also said to be tense. The BJP today alleged that its leaders were detained while they were on their way to Kanth area.

Clashes had erupted between BJP workers and the police in Kanth early this month over a mahapanchayat called by the party to protest the removal of a loudspeaker from a shrine in Akbarpur village.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has instructed home department officials to firmly handle the situation in Saharanpur and Moradabad districts. He has asked them to ensure there was no laxity at any level and to restore law and order.

“Continuous monitoring of the situation in Saharanpur and Moradabad is being done by senior police and government officials,” said Navneet Sehgal, the Uttar Pradesh principal secretary (information).

“The chief minister has directed the principal secretary (home) to deal with the Saharanpur situation firmly. He has directed that there must be no laxity at any level and that law and order must be maintained at any cost,” he said.

Union home ministry officials said they had asked the Uttar Pradesh government for a detailed report.