Internet services have been suspended till 10 pm on Sunday in certain areas of western Uttar Pradesh, which have been on tenterhooks since communal clashes broke out in the city of Kasganj on Friday, PTI reported.
Protestors set on fire three vehicles in two separate incidents in the villages of Nadrai and Chungi in Kasganj district late on Saturday. Earlier in the day, the police had arrested 49 people in connection with acts of arson allegedly committed by people returning from the cremation of a man killed in Friday’s clashes.
“We are patrolling the area and trying to avoid such incidents,” Aligarh Division Commissioner SC Sharma told ANI.
On Friday, unidentified miscreants had pelted stones at a “Tiranga Yatra” motorcycle rally of workers of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad. A youth identified as Chandan Gupta died in the clashes that ensued. Several people were injured and dozens of vehicles were damaged.
The police told The Indian Express that residents of the Muslim-dominated locality of Baddu Nagar in Kasganj had arranged chairs on the road and were getting ready to unfurl the tricolour on Republic Day when the workers of the Hindu outfits reached the place. They allegedly demanded that the chairs be removed to make way for their bikes.
“They were shouting slogans, we requested them to let our celebrations finish first,” said Mohammed Munazir Rafi, a resident of Baddu Nagar. “But they were adamant and did not leave.”
The Indian Express reported that in a video, which purportedly shows the standoff, a group of around 60 people carrying the national flag and saffron flags can be heard saying: “The bikes will pass through here.”
An argument began between the two groups after they refused to leave. “We asked them to join the celebration,” said Rafi. “But many people had gathered and soon, there was some pushing and shoving. Then they left their bikes here and went away. I called the Kasganj Police Station and apprised them of the situation when they arrived 25 minutes later.”
The activists of the Hindu outfits then took a detour to reach another Muslim-dominated locality, whose residents thought they had arrived to retaliate.“This triggered the shooting incident in which a 28-year-old man was killed,” Kasganj Additional SP Pavitra Mohan Tripathi told the newspaper.
‘Attacked with acid bottles’
Bharatiya Janata Party MP Rajveer Singh claimed that Friday’s attack was a planned assault on the VHP and ABVP workers, The Times of India reported. “The youths were attacked with acid bottles, stones were pelted and shots were fired at them,” Singh alleged. “Every year, scores of youths in Kasganj city take out a rally on the occasion of Republic Day, but this time, they were stopped and attacked.”
The legislator also alleged that the attackers had shouted “Pakistan Zindabad” before launching the assault on the activists of the Hindu outfits. In a purported video of Friday’s bike rally, someone is also heard saying that those who want to stay in India have to say “Vande Mataram”.
Shushil Gupta, the father of Chandan Gupta who died in Friday’s unrest, alleged that his son was shot dead for refusing to say “Pakistan Zindabad”.
“My son was stopped and asked to say ‘Pakistan Zindabad, Hindustan Murdabad,’” Gupta told Navbharat Times. “When Chandan refused, he was shot dead.”