Hate wave spreads across UP

Hate wave spreads across UP

Piyush Srivastava The Muzaffarnagar region may be 'tense but under control' but a replay of the riots that shook Western Uttar Pradesh is...

Piyush Srivastava

The Muzaffarnagar region may be "tense but under control" but a replay of the riots that shook Western Uttar Pradesh is building up in yet another district of the state, about 100 km from state capital Lucknow. The epicentre-in-the-making is Dhafrapur village of Bahraich district where an undeclared curfew has held since September 18 even as paramilitary forces conduct flag marches after violence broke out over a religious procession.
Bahraich's latest troubles began when the police stopped a kalash immersion procession from Dhafrapur when it was passing through Fakharpur village, seizing loudspeakers for good measure. This led to angry protests by villagers at the Fakharpur police station. The police then allegedly lathi-charged the protesters, who retaliated by pelting stones and damaging half-a-dozen buses.
The police raided Dhafrapur village to search for those who had indulged in the violence.
The young men of the village had already fled by then. Village elders say the police harassed the women, children and old people who stayed back. "They (police) have converted the village into a battleground. Even innocent people have run away from the village in fear that the police would implicate them. A large number of police and paramilitary personnel are camping in the village and they keep harassing us… They enter our houses without any warning and misbehave with the women," alleged Chandrawati Devi, a villager.
Another woman, Shivrani Devi, said that while there was complete peace in the area, the policemen were constantly troubling them. "We fail to understand whether the police are here to protect us or insult us. The way the police are taking one-sided action is creating anger among the people," she said. A local police officer said they had taken action against all those who were involved in the violence. "We have registered FIR against 23 identified and 150 unidentified people. Nine of them from both the communities have been arrested so far and manhunt is on to nab other rioters," Kali Charan, a police inspector, said.
Defending the police force, Bahraich Superintendent of Police Mohit Gupta said, "The villagers must not be happy if the police are conducting raids to arrest the culprits. But we will conduct an inquiry and bring to book the policemen if they are harassing the villagers."
The escalating crisis has a pattern that was witnessed in the recent Muzaffarnagar riots. Mubarak Ali, the village head, alleged that the local administration and BJP members together were vitiating the atmosphere. "The local administration had forcibly taken away an idol of Lord Ganesha for immersion on September 9.
I had told them that the villagers had been doing Ganesha puja for the last three years but they didn't listen to me. When the villagers protested at that time, the administration said they could take out a kalash procession on September 18. But soon after it put a ban on religious activities though there was no tension as such in the district. BJP leaders got an opportunity and held a series of protests and meetings," Ali said. Speaking to Mail Today over phone, BJP MLA from Kaiserganj Mukut Bihari Verma, who had held a public meeting on September 16, said, "There is someone in Lucknow who is directing senior officers to vitiate the atmosphere. We were in the Assembly today. But I am going to Bahraich on Saturday to register my party's protest and ensure that the kalash immersion is done properly," he added.

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