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Curfew relaxed in Saharanpur, political blame game continues

The situation in Saharanpur remained tense but calm on Monday with curfew being relaxed in sensitive areas of the city in a phased manner.

The relaxation in curfew is aimed at allowing the local to buy necessities. Curfew was being relaxed from 10am to 2pm in the new city and from 3pm to 7pm in the old town areas, district magistrate Sandhya Tiwari said.

“This is being done to allow people to pick up their items of daily need from the markets,” she said.

The administration will take a call on relaxing the curfew further after taking stock of the situation.

Not wanting to take any chance, police and para-military personnel remained deployed in strength in trouble hit areas. Around 18 companies of additional force including eight of PAC, six of CRPF, two of RAF and two of ITBP are reportedly deployed in the troubled areas.

Three people were killed and 33 severely injured in Saturday’s violence that broke after a court verdict on a land dispute led to some construction work on the land claimed by a local gurdwara.

Muslims in the locality opposed it and claimed that the land remained disputed. Soon a mob gathered at the spot and people from both the communities pelted stones and fired at each other.

The mob also torched many vehicles and shops in the area.

A total of 38 persons have been arrested for inciting violence, more arrests are expected. The Uttar Pradesh government said it would charge the riot accused under the stringent National Security Act.

Saharanpur Superintendent of Police Rajesh Pandey said one person who had “instigated” the violence has been identified.

“We have not arrested him yet, but we are hopeful that we will catch hold of him very soon,” he said, noting that the individual has been charged with rioting, arson and conspiracy.

He said, “We will undertake a detailed investigation and only then we can say whether it is a grand design or something else is behind the scene.”

Meanwhile a political blame game has begun over the issue. Senior BJP leader and Union Minister Kalraj Mishra accused the ruling Samajwadi Party of indulging in “vote-bank politics” and said it appeared that the riots were preplanned.

Citing Rahul Gandhi’s earlier claim that ISI was active in Muzaffarnagar riots, Mishra said that the same was true for Saharanpur as well.

The Samajwadi party has hit back by dragging the RSS in to the issue. Senior SP leader and minister in the Akhilesh governmet, Azam Khan alleged that plans to endanger peace in UP were being hatched in the Nagpur headquarters of the RSS.

While blasting the UP government for “lapses”, the Congress has also chosen to blame the BJP. “It is very unfortunate that the BJP is creating such a tense situation. BJP was responsible in Kanth in Saharanpur also they are responsible. The BJP wants to push the state into a vicious cycle of hatred,” senior party leader Rashid Alvi said.

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