Curfew relaxed in Muzaffarnagar, death toll at 40

The death toll in the trouble-hit Muzaffarnagar district and adjoining towns in Uttar Pradesh rose to 48 on Wednesday morning, reports said.

Muzaffarnagar/Lucknow: With the situation showing improvement, curfew was relaxed for five hours on Wednesday in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar while Baghpat witnessed a communal clash leaving a constable injured.

District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said the situation in Muzaffarnagar was under control and no untoward incident was reported during the day.

"Curfew was relaxed relaxed from 12 noon till 4 pm and later extended till 5 pm in Kotwali, Civil Lines and Nai Mandi areas of the district," IG (Special Task Force) Ashish Gupta told reporters in Lucknow.

Two communities clashed in Tirthal village in Baghpat during which stones were pelted at each other. A constable sustained head injuries, Gupta said.

Strict vigil was being maintained during the relaxation period and police and paramilitary forces are on high alert, Sharma said.

The administration had imposed curfew in Kotwali, Civil Lines and Nai Mandi areas of the district on Saturday last following the communal flare up. Yesterday, curfew was relaxed for two-and-a-half in these areas.

40 people have died in the clashes in various districts of western Uttar Pradesh. Besides 34 in Muzaffarnagar, two deaths have been reported from Meerut, one each have been reported from Hapur, Baghpat, Saharapur and Shamli.

In Agra, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav alleged that some political parties were trying to take advantage of the situation in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas and stirring up trouble.

"If we do not remain alert then such incidents will be repeated, because some people on whom the people of Uttar Pradesh did not trust will try to take advantage," he said.

"We will not let this happen irrespective of the biggest sacrifice we need to make," he added.

Asked about remarks by UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav suspecting a political conspiracy behind the communal violence, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in Delhi, "I cannot say about political conspiracies till I get a complete report about the violence (in Muzaffarnagar). But political parties could indulge in it."

"80 companies (8,000 personnel) of paramilitary forces were deployed (in UP). Army was also deployed. Curfew has been relaxed now. Situation is improving," the Home Minister said.

UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had yesterday said, "The state government would deal strictly with all those who have tried to create communal chasm and vitiate the atmosphere of Muzaffarnagar and Uttar Pradesh."

Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government has given financial assistance of Rs 15 lakh to the wife of a news channel correspondent Rajesh Verma, who was killed in the clashes.

Stepping up his attack on the UP government over its handling of the Muzaffarnagar violence, Congress leader from UP and Union minister Jitin Prasada today asked chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to take responsibility and resign.

"It is not an ordinary incident...Despite warnings and suspicion and continuing tension why was it not foiled. How can it be believed that no one is responsible. Someone has to take responsibility," he said.

In Delhi, some infleuntial Muslim organisations today demanded dismissal of SP government and imposition of President`s rule in the state, accusing the Akhilesh Yadav dispensation of having failed to control the situation from deteriorating.

They held a joint press conference which was addressed among others by Maulana Mahmood Madni, general secretary Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, QRS Ilyas, Member of All Muslim Personal Law Board, Maulana Nusrat Ali, general secretary Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Zafrul Islam Khan, president of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat and Taslim Rahmani, president, Milli Political Council of India.


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