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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Lucknow

Muzaffarnagar riots : Jat-Muslim bonhomie takes a beating in West UP
M. Hasan, Hindustan Times
Lucknow, September 12, 2013
First Published: 11:13 IST(12/9/2013)
Last Updated: 12:50 IST(12/9/2013)

The outbreak of communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas has shattered the traditional Jat-Muslim alliance in the rural areas of western UP.

Nothing sudden.It was perhaps coming as tension was building up in the region for quite sometime.

Observers in the region cite two reasons for the simmering tension.

First, the prevalent hostility among the youths on both sides of the divide. Over the years, they have been indoctrinated by religious organisations on communal lines, so much so that they have stopped listening to their elders, they say.

According to information, more than the elders it was the youths from both sides who waged a war in Muzaffarnagar this time.

Second, the relentless attempt of political parties to make a dent into the Rashtriya Lok Dal’s support base -- the Jats and the Muslims-- for a bigger pie in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The tussle is basically for 18 Lok Sabha seats in West UP.

In 2009, while the SP and the BJP could win three seats each, the BSP and the RLD won six and five respectively. One seat had gone to the Congress.

“Thus the SP and BJP, which had been making efforts for major gains in the region and knew it could be possible only by upsetting the RLD and the BSP applecart, made surreptitious move to split the Jats and the Muslims,” said a senior police officer, who worked in west UP.

“The ‘great divide’ could help the BJP and the SP at the cost of RLD and the Congress. While a substantial chunk of Jats could move towards the BJP, the Muslims would continue to support the ruling SP,” senior RLD leader Kaukab Hamid said on phone from Baghpat.

“The political disintegration of the two as of now appears to irreversible,” he added.

The SP, however, strongly denies such charges.

“It is a conspiracy by the opposition, which is shaken by the popularity of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. The BJP, RLD, Congress and the BSP are in fact responsible for the trouble in West UP,” said SP spokesman and food minister Rajendra Chaudhury.

The outbreak of violence in Muzaffarnagar was not sudden.

In June, Bajrang Dal had organised a camp in Baghpat and during a march in the town raised highly objectionable slogans.

Even then elder Jats had objected to it.

The government agencies knew that tension was brewing in the region. There were inputs on it from Intelligence Bureau, some which IG (crime) Ashish Gupta admitted on Tuesday. “There were reports from local intelligence and despite preparations the violence broke out,” he said.

Working under pressure from SP leaders, the local administration in fact kept on sitting on the Jat-controlled Bharatiya Kisan Union’s demand to expunge the names of those framed in the murder of a youth on August 27. Now after three days of mayhem, the police on Tuesday expunged seven names from the FIR.

“Had the demand to delete the names been accepted earlier, Jat mahapanchayat, that led to the riots, would have been avoided,” BKU chief Rakesh Tikait said.


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