Tension mounted in Shahpur town of Muzaffarnagar district after a middle-aged trader was shot dead by unidentified assailants today afternoon, the police said.
A group of local residents went on rampage, damaging shops, houses and setting three motorcycles on fire following the murder of Irffan, 40.
Police said Irffan was shot dead while he was walking on the road alone.
Senior police officers rushed to the town to calm the tensions, as even a minor crime has the potential to stoke communal fires in this sensitive district.
More than 60 people were killed and about 50,000 others displaced in communal violence that rocked the district in September. Thousands of people still are reluctant to return to their native places because of communal divisions believed to have been deepened by politicians for political gains.
Four murders on last Wednesday had threatened fragile peace in the district. 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.
A day later, the Supreme Court expressed concern over the fresh violence, saying it will send an independent fact finding team to assess the situation if it is not satisfied with Uttar Pradesh government's response.
Uttar Pradesh director general of police Devraj Nagar had admitted to police lapses and exhorted upon his personnel to work independently of political influence.