Lucknow: With the situation showing improvement, curfew was relaxed for five hours on Wednesday in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar while Baghpat witnessed a communal clash, leaving a constable injured.
District magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said the situation in Muzaffarnagar was under control and no untoward incident was reported during the day.
"Curfew was relaxed relaxed from 12 noon till 4pm and later extended till 5pm in Kotwali, Civil Lines and Nai Mandi areas of the district," IG (special task force) Ashish Gupta told reporters in Lucknow.
Two communities clashed in Tirthal village in Baghpat during which stones were pelted at each other. A constable sustained head injuries, Gupta said.
Strict vigil was being maintained during the relaxation period and police and paramilitary forces are on high alert, Sharma said.
The administration had imposed curfew in Kotwali, Civil Lines and Nai Mandi areas of the district on Saturday last following the communal flare up. On Tuesday, curfew was relaxed for two-and-a-half in these areas.
40 people have died in the clashes in various districts of western Uttar Pradesh. Besides 34 in Muzaffarnagar, two deaths have been reported from Meerut, one each have been reported from Hapur, Baghpat, Saharapur and Shamli.
In Agra, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav alleged that some political parties were trying to take advantage of the situation in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas and stirring up trouble.
"If we do not remain alert then such incidents will be repeated, because some people on whom the people of Uttar Pradesh did not trust will try to take advantage," he said.
"We will not let this happen irrespective of the biggest sacrifice we need to make," he added.
Asked about remarks by UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav suspecting a political conspiracy behind the communal violence, Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in Delhi, "I cannot say about political conspiracies till I get a complete report about the violence (in Muzaffarnagar). But political parties could indulge in it."
"80 companies (8,000 personnel) of paramilitary forces were deployed (in UP). Army was also deployed. Curfew has been relaxed now. Situation is improving," the home minister said.
UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had on Tuesday said, "The state government would deal strictly with all those who have tried to create communal chasm and vitiate the atmosphere of Muzaffarnagar and Uttar Pradesh."
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government has given financial assistance of Rs 15 lakh to the wife of a news channel correspondent Rajesh Verma, who was killed in the clashes.
Stepping up his attack on the UP government over its handling of the Muzaffarnagar violence, Congress leader from UP and Union minister Jitin Prasada today asked chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to take responsibility and resign.
"It is not an ordinary incident...despite warnings and suspicion and continuing tension why was it not foiled. How can it be believed that no one is responsible. Someone has to take responsiblity," he said.
In Delhi, some influential Muslim organisations on Wednesday demanded dismissal of SP government and imposition of President's rule in the state, accusing the Akhilesh Yadav dispensation of having failed to control the situation from deteriorating.
They held a joint press conference which was addressed among others by Maulana Mahmood Madni, general secretary Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, QRS Ilyas, member of All Muslim Personal Law Board, Maulana Nusrat Ali, general secretary Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Zafrul Islam Khan, president of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat and Taslim Rahmani, president, Milli Political Council of India.
Gupta said the situation Tirthal village was brought under control promptly by the police after taking both the communities into confidence. Around 30 people were arrested.
Describing the situation as tense but under control, the IG said that police and administration was working towards confidence building measures establishing dialogue with members of both the communities.
"There is still apprehension especially in villages where one of the communities is in minority," he said.
The administration is taking steps to quell fears among people and has been asking them not to believe in them or the videos and CDs being attributed to the Muzaffarnagar incident.
The IG said that with information of missing persons pouring in, people have been asked to report it in every district to the police besides a special phone number has been created in Meerut IG's office for the purpose.
The official said so far 1,500 people have been arrested, 2,000 arm licences cancelled and 10,000 persons bound down since the outbreak of violence.
While NSA has been invoked against seven people, the process with regard to others was underway, the IG said, adding that NSA was also proposed to be invoked on those who had given inflammatory speech in the Panchayat on Saturday last besides those who loaded the video clipping which escalated tension.
To a question as to how long the Army would be deployed in the area, the IG said it would be decided by the local administration in keeping with the condition there.
Home secretary Kamal Saxena said around 10,000 people have taken shelter in ten relief camps where essential commodities were being provided by the administration.
The meeting of peace committees are being organsied to restore peace and order at the earliest, he said.
He also said the one-man inquiry commission to probe the incidents has been constituted and it was likely to start functioning in a couple of days.
The process of distributing cheques to the kin of the deceased has started with ten cheques being presented on Wednesday, Saxena said.
2 CRPF battalions to be deployed in Ghaziabad
In the wake of communal violence in western Uttar Pradesh, two battalions of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), comprising about 2000 personnel, will be deployed in "sensitive areas" of Ghaziabad to maintain law and order.
"We have got two battalions of CRPF which would be deployed in sensitive areas of the district," senior superintendent of police (SSP) Dharmender Singh said.
Police has identified some sensitive areas, including Loni, Muradnagar, Bhojpur, Masuri, where CRPF personnel are being deployed, Singh said, adding a list of 150 persons, who could create communal trouble in the district, has also been compiled.
These persons, who are being closely monitored by the police, do not belong to any political party, but have previously been involved in creating tension in the district, he said.
Though peace is getting restored in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar district, police said they are closely monitoring the situation in Ghaziabad as a precautionary measure.
40 people have died in the clashes in various districts of western Uttar Pradesh so far, including 34 in Muzaffarnagar.