Shops and businesses remained closed in Muzaffarnagar district on Sunday following a bandh call by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to protest the arrest of two of its MLAs by the Samajawadi Party government.
Sangeet Som, the party’s MLA from Sardhana constituency, and Suresh Rana from Thana Bhawan constituency were arrested for violating prohibitory orders and provoking communal tension. Party president Rajnath Singh was also forced to call off his scheduled trip to the district on Saturday.
Communal violence engulfed Muzaffarnagar, about 125 km from Delhi, in which 48 people were killed and at least 50,000 people were displaced. Speculation was rife that the riots were an attempt to polarise communities ahead of the 2014 general elections.
Sources said shops remain closed on Sunday although no tension was palpable in the area. The police remained extra vigilant and was present in adequate numbers. “Most of the markets reported complete bandh but traders did open shops at some places,” said a BJP worker.
No forcible closures were reported from anywhere in the district as local BJP office bearers had issued instructions in this regard. “We wanted to assess how much support we have from public and traders,” the party worker explained.
While markets such as Shiv Chowk, Bhagat Singh Road and Gur Mandi reported total bandh, a few shops remained open at Praksh Chowk. At Meenakasi market and Novelty market, a couple of traders from a particular community kept their shops open.