Communal tension gripped Bareilly, Gonda, Rae Bareli, Sitapur, Mau, Pilibhit, Gorakhpur, Chitrakoot and Pratapgarh districts of Uttar Pradesh after members of Hindu and Muslim communities clashed during Muharram procession and Durga idol immersion on Wednesday.
In Gonda, the two communities clashed in Badgaon when some anti-social elements pelted stones at a procession moving with Durga idol for immersion. Superintendent of police SK Singh said extra police force was rushed to the spot to control the situation. An FIR was registered against 50 people and two dozen people were taken into custody.
Alleging one-sided action by police, BJP Lok Sabha MP from Kaiserganj seat Brij Bhusan Sharan Singh and BJP MP from Gonda Kirti seat Vardhan Singh sat on a dharna. Both the MPs said police arrested members of the Hindu community and no action was taken against those who pelted stones at the Durga idol.
VHP and Bajrang Dal members forced shopkeepers to close their establishments in Kaiserganj and Colonelganj towns.
Talking to HT, ADG (law and order) Daljit Singh Chawdhary said the situation was under control and extra police force has been deployed in sensitive areas.
In the evening, the two BJP MPs ended their dharna after assurance from the district administration on conducting an inquiry into the incident. Police also released a few Hindu leaders on bail.
The two communities also clashed in Shivratanganj in Amethi district when some anti-social elements damaged a Durga idol. Over one dozen people were injured when a mob armed with sticks and rods attacked a rival group. Protesting inaction by the district administration, local people blocked traffic movement on the Lucknow-Varanasi highway.
In adjoining Rae Bareli district, the two communities clashed in Dih area during Durga idol immersion procession. ASP VK Yadav said members of the Muslim community objected over the route of the idol procession but the Hindus insisted on taking the procession via the old route.
Police lathi-charged the mob but the villagers retaliated. Several police vehicles were damaged in the clash.
Twenty-five people were injured in a clash between the two communities during a tazia procession in Nawabganj area of Bareilly. The injured were admitted to hospital and heavy police force has been deployed in the area.
The clash took place allegedly after Hindu youths forced the Muslims to change the route of the tazia procession. Some anti-social elements pelted stones and used firearms as well.
Tension also gripped Kunda of Pratapgarh district after police put Uday Pratap Singh, the father of cabinet minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, under house arrest. Police officials said the ‘bhandar’ organised by Singh obstructed the tazia procession route.
In Reusa of Sitapur district, anti-social elements set three houses afire after the two communities clashed over a tazia procession. Members of the Hindu community objected to the tazia procession saying that the route was marked for Durga idol procession.
There was a heated exchange of words which soon led to a pitched fight. Members of both communities also clashed in Haragoan area of Sitapur. The two communities also clashed in Sarailakhansi Tarwa in Mau district.
In Faizabad district, the tazia procession was taken out under police security in view of the tension between the two communities. The communities also clashed in Pilibhit.