Muzaffarnagar: At least 10 more people were killed in spiraling violence in Muzaffarnagar today, taking the toll to 21, with Army staging flag march in the troubled district and surrounding areas and thousands of anti-riot police personnel being deployed to restore law and order.
District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said that 21 people have died in the violence so far. However, in Lucknow, UP Home Secretary Kamal Saxena said that 19 people have so far been killed in the violence, including 11 yesterday.
Police said 52 persons have been arrested.
"As it (violence) is going on in several villages, it is taking time to defuse the situation," Additional Director General of Police Arun Kumar, who took stock of the situation in the affected areas, told PTI here.
Saxena said that adequate force has been deployed in the affected areas and incidents of violence have been reported from Sisauli, Shahpur, Kalapar and Dhaurakala areas of Muzaffarnagar.
At one place, Army had to resort to firing after someone opened fire at them, he said. Asked whether shoot-at-sight orders have been given, the Home Secretary said that directives have been issued to control the situation and for that if necessary firing can be done.
While curfew remained in force in Civil Lines, Kotwali and Nai Mandi town areas of the district where Army carried out a flag march, violence has now spread to rural areas.
ADG Kumar, who was escorted by a massive contingent of security personnel, claimed that only four police station areas were affected.
Officials said apart from army, 10,000 Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel, 1300 CRPF men and 1200 Rapid Action Force personnel have been deployed.
Apart from Muzaffarnagar, officials said army today staged flag marches in neighbouring Meerut and Shamli districts.
In Kutba, seven people were killed and mobs set ablaze a religious place, several shops and vehicles. The other badly affected villages were Shahpur, Bhuvana, Basi Kala.
ADG Kumar said there was no information of riots spreading to other districts in the state including sensitive Meerut district. "These are all rumours," he said.
However, authorities in Meerut have directed closure of all primary schools and degree colleges as a precautionary measure in view of the situation in Muzaffarnagar.
Meanwhile, the Centre has sought a report from Uttar Pradesh government on violence in Muzaffarnagar and directed it to take strong action to curb riots.
Union Home Ministry officials are in regular touch with the Uttar Pradesh government and have assured it of all possible help to control violence in the western UP district.
Officials sources said in Delhi the Centre has asked the state government to take necessary steps to ensure that communal tension does not spread to other parts of the state.
If necessary, steps like preventive arrest and house arrest of those who may create trouble to disturb peace should be taken, the sources said.
A high alert has been sounded in neighbouring Uttarakhand also especially in Dehradun, Haridwar and Udhamsingh Nagar districts which border Uttar Pradesh.
Condemning the violence in Muzaffarnagar, Muslim clerics cautioned the people against "political conspiracies" aimed at dividing them on religious lines and appealed for peace and harmony in Uttar Pradesh.
"The Muzaffarnagar violence in condemnable.... For past few days, there were attempts to create tension in western UP.... The violence there is result of political game, which should be exposed," member, All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahli said, appealing to people to ensure that peace is restored.
All India Shia Personal Board spokesman Mulana Yasoob Abbas alleged that some "forces" were trying to create divide among religious groups for political gains.
Tension has been running high since three persons were killed in Kawal village on August 27 over an eveteasig incident. At least 11 persons, including a TV channel journalist and a photographer, were killed yesterday.
The violence had occurred as a meeting was being held in Naglabadhod in defiance of prohibitory orders to demand withdrawal of cases registered in connection with August 27 violence in Kawal.
Authorities are trying to identify the people who had provoked the violence during the meeting, an official said.
Police said 40 people have been booked at Sekeda police station in connection with the killing of the photographer and holding of the meeting.
There were reports claiming that toll has risen to 26 in the violence, but there was no official confirmation.