Muzaffarnagar: At least 10 more people were killed in spiralling violence in Muzaffarnagar on Sunday, taking the toll to 21 in the western UP district where the Army staged flag marches and thousands of anti-riot police personnel were deployed to restore law and order.
"As it (violence) is going on in several villages, it is taking time to defuse the situation," Additional Director General of Police Arun Kumar, who took stock of the situation in the affected areas, told PTI here.
District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said that 21 people have died in the violence so far. However, in Lucknow, UP Home Secretary Kamal Saxena said that 19 people have so far been killed in the violence, including 11 yesterday.
Saxena said that adequate force has been deployed in the affected areas and incidents of violence have been reported from Sisauli, Shahpur, Fugna, Kalapar and Dhaurakala areas of Muzaffarnagar.
In one place Army had to resort to firing after someone opened fire at them, he said. Asked whether shoot at site orders have been given, Saxena said that directives have been issued to control the situation and for that if necessary firing can be done.
While curfew remained in force in Civil Lines, Kotwali and Nai Mandi town areas of the district with Army carrying out a flag march, violence has now spread to more rural areas.
ADG Kumar, who was escorted by a massive contingent of security personnel, claimed that only four police station areas were affected.
Officials said apart from army, 10,000 Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel, 1300 CRPF men and 1200 Rapid Action Force personnel have been deployed.
In Kutba, where four people were killed, mobs set ablaze a religious place, several shops and vehicles. In Phugana village, cops said three members of a community had taken shelter in a police station, fearing violence.
The other badly affected villages were Shahpur, Bhuvana, Basi Kala.
Army`s assistance has been sought by UP government in nearby Shamli and Meerut district, Amry sources said.
ADG Kumar said there was no information of riots spreading to other districts in the state including sensitive Meerut district. "These are all rumours," he said.
District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said 35 persons have been arrested in connection with the police.
However, authorities in Meerut have directed closure of all primary schools and degree colleges as a precautionary measure in view of the situation in Muzaffarnagar.
Army also staged flag march in Shamli and Kairana town near Muzaffarnagar. Tension prevailed in Agra following a clash between members of two communities in the Wazirpura locality of the city last evening.
Brick batting and firing occurred during the incident, officials said, adding police and PAC personnel have been posted as a precautionary measure with two persons being arrested in connection with the violence.
A high alert has been sounded in neighbouring Uttarakhand also. Chief Secretary Subhash Kumar has asked the administration and the police to be vigilant especially in Dehradun, Haridwar and Udhamsingh Nagar districts which border Uttar Pradesh.
Meanwhile, the Centre has sought a report from Uttar Pradesh government on violence in Muzaffarnagar and directed it to take strong action to curb riots.
Union Home Ministry officials are in regular touch with the Uttar Pradesh government and have assured it of all possible help to control the violence in the western UP district.
Officials sources said in Delhi the Centre has asked the state government to take necessary steps to ensure that communal tension does not spread to other parts of the state.
If necessary, steps like preventive arrest and house arrest of those who may create trouble to disturb peace should be taken, the sources said.
Condemning the violence in Muzaffarnagar, Muslim clerics cautioned the people against "political conspiracies" aimed at dividing them on religious lines and appealed for peace and harmony in Uttar Pradesh.
"The Muzaffarnagar violence in condemnable.... For past few days, there were attempts to create tension in western UP.... The violence there is result of political game, which should be exposed," member, All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahli said, appealing to people to ensure that peace is restored.
All India Shia Personal Board spokesman Mulana Yasoob Abbas alleged that some "forces" were trying to create divide among religious groups for political gains.
Tension has been running high since three persons were killed in Kawal village on August 27. At least 11 persons, including a TV channel journalist and a photographer, were killed yesterday.
The violence had occurred as a meeting was being held in Naglabadhod in defiance of prohibitory orders to demand withdrawal of cases registered in connection with August 27 violence in Kawal.
Authorities are trying to identify the people who had provoked the violence during the meeting, an official said.
Asked why the incidents of violence could not be checked, Saxena said there were sporadic clashes after the panchayat held there yesterday.
Replying to a question, he said that no permission was given for the panchayat but could not reply as to how so many people could gather for the meeting.
Besides central forces and army, senior officers including ADG, Law and order Arun Kumar and four IGs are camping there, he said.
Asking people not to pay heed to rumours, IG, Crime Ashish Gupta told reporters in Lucknow that some unscrupulous elements were using social networking sites and SMSes to spread rumours to create tension.
"A video is also being circulated through Facebook and other networking sites to create tension. I want to tell you that the said video is probably over two years old and is of some other country. I appeal to people that they should not pay heed to it", Gupta said.
He said that curfew was on in Civil Lines, Kotwali and Nai Mandi areas while 52 persons have been arrested so far.
He said that army today staged a flag march in Meerut besides Muzaffarnagar and added that after 2 PM the situation was under control and no violence was reported.
Asked whether Centre has sought a report from the state government, Saxena said that the state used to give its report to the Union Home department in such cases.
"It`s routine.... We used to give our report on such matter to the Centre," he added.