Violence-hit Muzaffarnagar and neighbouring districts of western Uttar Pradesh remained peaceful Friday as curfew was lifted for 12 hours under stern vigil of police and paramilitary forces. The toll rose to 47 with the discovery of more bodies.
The death toll has been highest in Muzaffarnagar (38) while the other deaths were reported from Shamli (3), Saharanpr (1), Baghpat (3) and Meerut (2). Three bodies were recovered Friday from the from Jaani canal in Meerut and Bhopa and Sikheda police station areas in Muzaffaranagar but police said whether they were connected to the communal violence or not will only be ascertained after post-mortem.
The district administration, with the help of police, have set up 547 fixed pickets in the rural areas in addition of the 536 mobile parties equipped with wireless sets so that prompt action could be take in case of rumour or violence.
Police and para-military forces meanwhile continued to conduct with flag marches Friday in sensitive areas. Seven people have been reported missing in Muzaffarnagar and two in Saharanpur and police fear they may have been killed in the clashes and their bodies dumped or disposed off in rivers and water bodies. So far 11,000 people have been placed under preventive detention, a home department official told IANS, while 187 have been arrested and 11 of them have cases of murder slapped against them.
As many as 2,023 arm licenses have been cancelled and 1,200 arms deposited with police at different police stations. A total of 182 illegal weapons have also been recovered in door to door searches being conducted by security forces. The state government has already sanctioned funds for financial compensation to the injured, riot-affected and ex-gratia for the next of kin of the 43 people killed in the violence.
A district official said a sum of Rs 3.1 crore has already been distributed to riot victims. Home department officials said police was now trying to zero in on those people who "electronically distributed" a fake video clip that further aggravated the violence after the Sep 7 "Maha Panchayat". But even as 70 people have been named in different first information reports (FIRs), none has been arrested so far.
A local leader of the Samajwadi Party (SP), a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MP, a lower rung Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader along with a Congress leader have been seen delivering inflammatory speeches in a video.
In the violence that erupted last weekend after simmering discontent on police action over an molestation incident Aug 27 was not attended to and the palpable anger among the people not anticipated enough by the local intelligence.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh accused opposition political parties of triggering trouble in Muzaffarnagar.