Mobs of protesters clashed with police and indulged in large-scale violence and arson in Ghaziabad (west UP) on Monday over the alleged inertia of the police in the case of a minor's rape by a 65-year-old man a day earlier.
However, Meerut IG Alok Sharma told dna that the accused had been arrested and the situation was returning to normal. Heavy police deployment continued in Ghaziabad despite the end of clashes, and police forces had been called in from neighbouring districts of Meerut, Moradabad, Bahpat and Noida, he added.
The latest incident marks a new pattern of violence which has picked up in west UP in recent months. "A dispute breaks out and it snowballs into a major incident of violence and arson within no time. It's not spontaneous. This is being remote-controlled," said a senior police officer.
The trouble started on Monday morning after word spread that the police in Loni area, where the incident happened, had registered a case of eve-teasing while the old man had actually tried to rape the minor. The girl's parents told reporters that the police had refused to register a case of rape and had, in fact, asked them to leave their home for some days.
Things got worse after a rumour spread that the girl had died. Clashes erupted as groups of agitated locals attacked the police and set their vehicles on fire. Several policemen were injured and police vehicles damaged or charred as the men in uniform resorted to brute force to contain the violence.
Additional DG (law and order) Mukul Goel, who rushed to Ghaziabad, seemed to rub salt into the wounds of the victim's relatives as he told reporters that the police were not at fault at all. "The police had registered the case as one of eve-teasing based on the initial information they got. The case was changed to section 376 IPC (rape) once they got the real facts. It's not a fault of the police at all," he said.
"The rumour of the girl's death was floated deliberately to incite violence," the ADG added. Such incidents, he said, were happening too often in west UP to be counted as a routine one. "We are conducting an inquiry into the forces who are behind spreading such rumours and inciting violence rather frequently," he said, asserting that the guilty would soon be nailed.