Tension gripped Sambhal district in western Uttar Pradesh late on Wednesday after four Muslim pilgrims travelling in a bus were held captive by Hindu villagers after a brawl in Rajpura area.
At least eight policemen, including the deputy superintendent of police, the station house officer and six constables, sustained injuries and were admitted to a hospital after a clash with Muslim villagers who attacked the police team that rescued the pilgrims.
On Thursday, the police registered separate FIRs against 150 rioters who attacked the policemen in Sambhal police station as well as the villagers who held the pilgrims captive at Rajpura police station.
A police officer in Sambhal told Hindustan Times that a group of 85 Muslim pilgrims was on its way to Kundarki town in Moradabad district from Ajmer in Rajasthan.
He said the driver and a few pilgrims entered into a heated exchange with a local boy over moving cattle from the road when the bus was passing through Kamlapur village. The driver and some pilgrims allegedly beat up the boy.
Soon, villagers gathered at the spot and objected to the misconduct of the driver. The villagers held four pilgrims captive after a brawl ensued between them. Other pilgrims managed to escape in the bus.
When the bus reached the Muslim-dominated Chaudhary Sarai locality, the remaining pilgrims surrounded the police outpost demanding action against the villagers. They also blocked movement of traffic on the Sambhal-Moradabad highway.
Sambhal superintendent of police Balendu Bhusan said a police team was rushed to Kamlapur village and rescued the pilgrims. By that time a large number of villagers gathered at Chaudhary Sarai and attacked the police team accusing them of being biased. The villagers demanded the arrest of the people who had held the pilgrims captive.
They pelted the police team with stones and assaulted them with stick and iron rods. They also targeted police and public vehicles on the Sambhal-Moradabad highway.
An extra police force was rushed to the spot to disperse the mob and clear the blockade on the highway.
Deputy inspector general of police (Moradabad range) Onkar Singh said adequate police force has been deployed in the area to maintain law and order and the situation was normal.