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49 arrested as violence erupts again in UP’s Kasganj, day after clashes killed 1

The violence flared up on Saturday after the cremation of a local resident who was killed in clashes on Republic Day.

lucknow Updated: Jan 27, 2018 22:20 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey and Hemendra Chaturvedi
Manish Chandra Pandey and Hemendra Chaturvedi
Hindustan Times, Agra
Kasganj,Kasganj clashes,UP communal violence
A bus set on fire by a group that went on the rampage after the cremation of a young man killed on Friday during a bike rally, in Kasganj on Saturday. (PTI)

Renewed violence erupted in Kasganj on Saturday as people returning from the cremation of man killed in clashes on Republic Day allegedly set ablaze several shops and vehicles near the Ghantaghar area of the western Uttar Pradesh town.

The arson happened despite the administration imposing Section 144 in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which prohibits assembly of more than five people, in the town after Friday’s clashes that broke out when members of Hindu groups took out a motorcycle rally through a Muslim-dominated area.

At least 49 people were arrested, borders sealed, schools closed and internet services blocked to check the spread of rumours, district magistrate RP Singh said as the administration stepped up efforts to restore peace. Additional policemen were deployed to prevent flare-ups and stop miscreants from entering the town.

Fire brigade personnel try to douse a blaze at a shoe shop in Baradwari area of Kasganj on Saturday. ( ANI Twitter )

According to state police spokesman Rahul Srivastava, the two groups on Friday fired gunshots and attacked each other with rocks in the small town nearly 340km northwest of Lucknow.

Chandan Gupta, a 23-year-old resident, was killed in the firing, while a youth named Naushad suffered a bullet wound in his leg. He is getting treatment at an Aligarh hospital.

According to the slain man’s father, Sushil Gupta, his son wasn’t associated with any religious or political association. “I just want strict action against people who brutally killed my son,” he said.

The clashes happened during a Tiranga Yatra, a motorcycle rally with people carrying the national flag, organised by members of groups such as the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Republic Day with an aim to promote patriotism and nationalism.

Some youths in the rally allegedly shouted objectionable slogans, triggering clashes, sources said. But the exact cause couldn’t be independently verified.

Gupta’s cremation was delayed as people asked the government to accord the status of a martyr to him, give his family adequate relief and government job to a next of kin. He was cremated after parliamentarian Rajveer Singh and Kasganj legislator Devendra Singh Rajput assured that the demands were communicated to the government.

Investigators have named 10 people for the murder. Additional director general of police Anand Kumar said video from CCTV cameras was being examined to identify the culprits. “Our main job at this point is to ensure brotherhood among communities remain intact,” he told reporters.

The state government fielded minority affairs minister Mohsin Raza to pacify the angry crowds. “None would be allowed to kill people merely because they uttered Vande Mataram or Jai Hind or Bharat Mata ki Jai,” he said.

Deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and state urban development minister Suresh Khanna condemned the violence and said strict action will be taken against those found guilty.

The VHP women’s wing leader Sadhvi Prachi, who was detained in Hathras on her way to Kasganj on Saturday, blamed the local administration for the violence. “We want immediate arrest of the killers,” she said.

(with agency inputs)

First Published: Jan 27, 2018 14:03 IST