Four murders on Wednesday evening threatened Muzaffarnagar’s fragile peace, a little over a month after violent communal clashes claimed more than 60 lives and left thousands homeless.
Trouble started after armed villagers lynched three persons in a sugarcane field in Mohammadpur Raisingh village, leading to communal tension in the area. The three were targeted for allegedly being part of a group of 10-12 men who had beaten up a farmer from that village earlier in the day.
However, the husband of the pradhan of neighbouring Hussainpur Kalan village, Shahnawaz, claimed that the three dead were his relatives and had gone to the field to collect fodder when residents of Muhammadpur Raisingh kidnapped and killed them.
In a second incident, unidentified assailants attacked a couple in Phugana area. The woman died on the spot while her husband managed to escape.
Confirming the four deaths, DIG (Saharanpur range) Ashok Mutha Jain said “officers are at the spot investigating the incidents”. However, he refused to comment on whether there was a communal angle to the killings.
An alert has been sounded in the district in Uttar Pradesh and senior police officers, fearing more clashes, are camping in Mohammadpur Raisingh.
Additional troops from neighbouring districts have also been rushed to the village.
Communal clashes first erupted in Muzaffarnagar on August 27 after the killing of three youths in Kaval village. It flared up more seriously on September 7 after a clash between communities at a mahapanchayat saw the violence spread to other districts.
According to state government data, 63 people were killed in the riots and 50,000 had to seek shelter in relief camps. Subsequently, FIRs were registered against legislators and leaders from parties like the BJP, BSP, Congress, RLD and SP, allegedly for inciting communal violence. Many of them were arrested.