In a bid to polarise communities again in Uttar Pradesh, protestors clashed with police in the presence of five BJP MPs with one of them being the Muzaffarnagar riot accused Sangeet Som. The MPs were taken in custody but were later released. The clash broke at Kanth railiway station when the MPs were enroute attending the Mahapanchayat organised by Hindu groups to protest against removal of temple loudspeaker for the month of Ramzan observed by the muslims in the vicinity.
The spectre of communal violence loomed high in Kanth town of Moradabad district on Friday after police put down with force the proposed mahapanchayat to be attended by senior BJP leaders. The mahapanchayat supporters clashed at Kanth Railway Station in Moradabad district and pelted stones at the police. Moradabad district magistrate Chandrakant was referred to Delhi for treatment after he sustained serious head injury. Senior SP Dharamveer, an inspector and three sub-inspectors were also wounded after being hit by stones.
Protesters had blocked rail traffic for more than hour and police resorted to baton charge and fired several rounds of ammunition in air to disperse the angry mob. Sangeet Som,the BJP MP allegedly incited the mob. He was earlier booked for inciting the last year’s bloody religious clashes in Muzaffarnagar that killed about 60 people, most of them Muslims, and displaced about 50,000 people. After the riots, the western UP got divided on communal lines that, according to pollsters, helped the BJP consolidate the Hindu vote in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls.
A violent protest had erupted after the removal of the loudspeaker last week. At least 23 protesters had been booked on charges of rioting and 34 others named in the FIR along with 500 unidentified persons.Traders kept their shops shut for over a week in protest demanding reinstallation of loudspeaker, withdrawal of cases against protesters and action against policemen who thrashed people.
On Thursday, the two communities failed to broker a compromise. One group represented by BJP MP from Moradabad Sarvesh Kumar Singh and the party’s president for the district Satyapal Saini did not agree to the other side’s suggestion that the loudspeaker be restored after Eid. Hindus had offered the loudspeaker can be turned off at the time of namaz.
Peace Party MLA from Kanth Aneesur Rahman, who was representing the other group, reportedly said the BJP MP initially agreed to Muslims’ suggestion that the loudspeaker can be re-installed after August 3, when Ramzan is over. According to Rahman, the MP had also agreed to the suggestion that construction of a mosque, which had been stopped after a complaint by Hindus, will also be resumed after August 3. But, Rahman said, the MP later went to Kanth after his associates disagreed with the proposals.
Angry traders and workers of Hindu Jagran Manch had burnt Sarvesh’s effigy and blamed him for “succumbing to the rival camp’s pressure”. The mahapanchayat was called as a show of strength that later turned violent after the administration refused permission and asked the protesters to disperse.