BJP mahapanchayat supporters during a clash at Kanth Railway Station in Moradabad district. (PTI photo)
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remained defiant on Saturday and vowed to continue its protests a day after its workers clashed with the police who were enforcing a ban on a mahapanchayat or gathering called to protest against the removal of a loudspeaker from a temple in the Kanth tehsil of Moradabad district in western Uttar Pradesh.
Even as the situation remained tense but under control in the area, Bhupendra Singh, the party's regional president in Moradabad, asserted that the party's movement would continue.
At least six senior police and administrative officials, including Moradabad district magistrate Chandrakant, had been injured in the clash. Chandra Kant, who sustained serious injury in his eye, has been referred to a Chennai hospital, said Moradabad commissioner Shiv Shankar Singh.
On his part, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Dharamveer held the BJP and its Moradabad MP Kunwar Sarvesh Singh responsible for the flare-up, a charge that Bhupendra Singh rejected: "They can say anything to hide their fault."
Speaking to reporters in Kanth on Saturday, the SSP also said the administration had sent a report to the state government regarding reinstallation of the contentious loudspeaker on the temple at Akabarpur Chedri village.
"We have sent the report and now they have to take the final decision on it," he said, adding that 62 persons had been arrested on the charge of rioting on Friday and were booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Read: BJP, police clash over temple loudspeaker
He also said the police were going through video clips, photographs and intelligence inputs to identify 400 other persons who had also been mentioned in the FIR.
Claiming that the situation was now under control, inspector general of police (Bareilly zone) Zaki Ahmad clarified that residents of Kanth had no role in the violence but some motivated groups of people from Amroha and Bijnor were behind it.
Meanwhile, the BJP leaders alleged that the administration was preparing to book some arrested leaders and workers under the National Security Act (NSA) on the basis of injuries inflicted on the district magistrate and other police and administrative officials during the clash.
"They have powers and can do anything," said Bhupendra Singh, adding, "but we will not give up".
"A meeting will be convened to chalk out the future course of action," Bhupendra Singh added after he, along with other leaders, met his jailed party colleagues. He also spoke to lawyers to discuss the modalities to secure their release.
Read: Congress blames BJP for tension in Moradabad
Sunil Bharala, the national co-convenor of party's slum cell, said, "Officials failed to respect the sentiments of people which led to clashes."
The issue of holding a 'mahapanchayat' in Kanth area had turned into a violent protest, during which BJP leaders, including four MPs, and an MLA, who was an accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots, were briefly detained.
Moradabad MP Kunwar Sarvesh Kumar Singh, Amroha MP Kunwar Singh Tanwar, Sambhal MP Satyapal Saini, Rampur MP Nepal Singh, MLA Sangeet Som and their supporters were among those detained. They were released later on Friday evening.
The 'mahapanchayat' or gathering was called by the state BJP in defiance of the state order, after a recent dispute in Kanth, over removal of a loudspeaker from a temple, which led to communal tension in the area.
(With agency inputs)