Moradabad Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Dharamveer Yadav added fuel to the fire simmering in the BJP camp on Saturday when he told the media that the BJP had engineered the large-scale violence in the district on Friday for electoral gains.
His statement follows Friday's clash between BJP protesters and the Moradabad police over the detention of the party MLAs. Four BJP leaders — Amroha MP Kanwar Singh Tanwar, Rampur MP Nepal Singh and Sambhal MP Satyapal Saini, and Sardhana MLA Sangeet Som — had been detained on Friday for heading a 'mahapanchayat' in Kanth near Moradabad to protest against the administration's decision to remove loudspeakers from a temple. The three MPs and MLA Som, one of the legislators booked and later released for inciting last year's communal frenzy in Muzaffarnagar that killed about 60 people, have since been released.
But the situation in Moradabad remained tense on Saturday with sources saying tension continued to prevail in Kanth village.
"It is clear that the BJP wants to take advantage of the situation in the coming by-election in Thakurdwara. All this trouble has been fomented by them with this objective in view," SSP Yadav told reporters on Saturday. (The Thakurdwara assembly seat has fallen vacant following the incumbent MLA Kunwar Sarvesh Singh's victory in the Lok Sabha election.)
BJP state president Laxmikant Bajpeyi was furious when asked to comment. "This officer seems to be out of his mind. Has he joined the Samajwadi Party?" he asked, and demanded his immediate ouster from the SSP's post otherwise, he said, BJP workers will gherao his office till he is shunted.
Union Minister Gen (retd) VK Singh also took severe umbrage to the police official's statement. "He (the Moradabad SSP) is an officer of the administration and not a member of a political party. He should not issue such political statements. He should do his work," said Singh on being questioned on the Moradabad disturbance. "If he (the SSP) is trying to flaunt his connections with his political masters, his seniors should take him to task," the minister added brusquely.
SSP Yadav said that the BJP MLAs had called a 'mahapanchayat' despite the administration refusing them permission. "The incident happened on the issue of a temple in which according to tradition, loudspeakers are placed only on Mahashivrati and then removed. But this time, on June 16, MP Sarvesh Singh went there and forcefully had the public address system set up due to which there were tensions.
Both communities were called for discussion but Sarvesh refused to remove the speakers," the SSP said.