An unidentified man injured in communal clashes watches as he receives treatment at a district hospital in Muzaffarnagar, about 125 kilometers (78 miles) north of ...
A policeman checks a civilian for weapons during a curfew in Muzaffarnagar, about 125 kilometers (78 miles) north of New Delhi. (AP Photo)
A man injured in communal clashes is carried on a stretcher after in Muzaffarnagar, about 125 kilometers (78 miles) north of New Delhi. (AP Photo)
Policemen recover arms and ammunition during a door-to-door search operation in Muzaffarnagar, about 125 kilometers (78 miles) north of New Delhi. (AP Photo)
Mehrana, a 6-year-old girl injured in communal clashes, gets treatment at a district hospital in Muzaffarnagar, about 125 kilometers (78 miles) north of New Delhi. ...
Paramilitary soldiers patrol a street during a curfew imposed following communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar. (AP Photo)
Paramilitary soldiers urge civilians to stay indoors during a curfew in Muzaffarnagar, about 125 kilometers (78 miles) north of New Delhi. (AP Photo)
People help a young child after she was injured during communal clashes as they leave a hospital after getting first aid in Muzaffarnagar, about 125 ...
Soldiers keep watch during a patrol following communal riots between two communities in Muzaffarnagar, India's Uttar Pradesh state. (AFP Photo)
A policeman holds recovered arms during a door-to-door search operation in Muzaffarnagar, about 125 kilometers (78 miles) north of New Delhi, India. (AP Photo)
The backdrop of communal violence in Uttar Pradesh has shifted from urban to rural areas. And it is worrying both the Centre and the state governments.
On Monday, the Union home ministry on Monday sent a formal advisory to the state to deploy adequate forces in rural areas. The Akhilesh Singh government has been asked to keep the Centre abreast of the situation on the ground.
The trend began last year, and since January 2012, seven incidents of communal violence took place across rural areas of the state.
“This time, the majority of the deaths has been reported in the villages located in Phugana, Shahpur, Sisauli and Dhaurkalan area of the district,” said UP’s principal secretary Home RM Srivastava.
Violence in villages is much more difficult to control due to the geographical spread and thin deployment of security forces. Still more worrisome is that the wounds fester for years, said an official in Delhi.
Unlike a city where life gets back on track after a semblance of normalcy is restored, there is a good chance that retaliatory attacks could continue in the villages. Besides, people also use the opportunity to settle scores.
For instance, the UP government suspects that a bullet-ridden body found in a jungle in Shamli on Monday morning could be linked to personal rivalry, particularly when the man was a witness in a court case.
While the state government attributes the violence to the increased activity of the Hindutva brigade, the shift is worrying experts.
Earlier, the majority community used to defend the minority from the attack by the outsiders. This time, social protection system has melted as the one community attacked other, said a police officer posted in Muzaffaranagar.
Why the rural heartland of UP is suddenly engulfed with communal hatred?
Rajesh Kumar Mishra of Lucknow University links the communal hatred to the new socio-economic phenomenon unraveling in the agrarian society.
The village community was turning from a socially integrated society into a centrifugal one. A new middle class has risen in the rural hub, which is not involved in agriculture. This new middle class is also more casteist and communal in nature too, said the head of the university sociology department.
Professor A Satyanarayan of Allahabad University, who has done study on the Jat- Muslim community in West UP, agrees.
Earlier, Jats, Gujjars and Rajputs lived in harmony with Muslims. Market forces have changed the relationship as well as land holdings in the area.
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Families, who migrated from Soram Goela village due to the rioting, arriving at Budhana under security of police and paramilitary forces. (Chahat/ HT Photo)