Muzaffarnagar toll mounts to 31, violence spreads to more UP areas

Uttar Pradesh was on Monday struggling to contain communal violence as the death toll in Muzaffarnagar and other areas rose to 31.

Muzaffarnagar/Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh was on Monday struggling to contain communal violence as the death toll in Muzaffarnagar and other areas rose to 31, with authorities arresting 200 rioters and stopping Union Minister Ajit Singh and BJP MPs including Ravi Shankar Prasad from visiting the troubled district.

"The death toll in the violence in Muzaffarnagar and other areas has climbed to 31," Principal Secretary Home RM Srivastava told a news agency in Lucknow even as curfew remained in force in riot-hit areas and Army staged flag march for the second consecutive day.

Violence spread to neighbouring district of Shamli where a 40-year-old Imam of a mosque, Maulana Umar Din, was shot dead, Shamli District Magistrate PK Singh said.

Concerned over the incidents, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and assured him of all help from the Centre to deal with the situation.

Union Home Ministry asked Uttar Pradesh government to send Muzaffarnagar situation report every 12 hours. It also asked the state government to deploy enough forces in rural areas in the district where violence is yet to be contained.

A blame game erupted with the opposition accusing the state government of failing to act in time to prevent the violence and the ruling Samajwadi Party hitting back, saying its rivals were trying to stir up communal trouble.

RLD chief Ajit Singh, Prasad and two BJP MPs were detained by the police in Ghaziabad after they attempted to enter UP to visit the violence-hit district.

In an overnight crackdown, over 200 people were arrested and 1000 persons booked, including BJP legislative party leader Hukum Singh, party MLAs Suresh Rana, Bhartendu, Sangeet Som and former Congress MP Harendra Malik for violating prohibitory orders.

Under fire over the violence, UP government transferred top police officials, including Saharanpur DIG, SSP Muzaffarnagar and SP Shamli. Violence-hit Muzaffarnagar lies in Saharanpur range.

"We are also cancelling arms licenses in Phugana, Shahpur, Dhaurakalan as they were misused during the violence," ADG, Law and Order, Arun Kumar told reporters in Muzaffarnagar.

UP Governor BL Joshi has sent a report on the Muzaffarnagar violence to the Centre, which, sources said in Lucknow, has details regarding the administrative lapses as well as the situation prevailing there.


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