April 26, 2011
Communal riot in Meerut: Attack on Imam leads to clashes
Police say that though there is slight tension in the City, the situation is now under control. Over two dozen persons were injured other than nearly 10 policemen who also sustained injuries.
Nearly 15 persons have been arrested in connection with the incident. Meerut has had a history of communal riots and was notorious for sectarian clashes between Hindus and Muslims till eighties, however, there has been no major clash since 1987.
The recent incident occurred when a group of Gujjar youths led by Sandeep entered the Chhoti Masjid in Qazipur on Hapur Road, and beat up Imam and some other devotees. The Imam was teaching Holy Quran to local children then.
As news spread, there was tension in the area. Reports say that despite calls to local SHO, the police didn't take any action and officers did not reach the place timely. This angered the minority population. Later there were clashes and the ire was mostly directed at police.
Many persons including policemen were injured. There were pitched battles on the street and police resorted to tear gas, cane-charge and use of rubber bullet to contain arson and violence. A house was set afire and the owner Naeem's wife and his daughters received burn injuries.
After flag march, the situation is now under control. Police said that city was now peaceful. There had been reports in newspapers for sometime that there were efforts to stoke communal feelings in Uttar Pradesh (UP) for the last few months.
With elections likely to be held in 2012 and the possibility that there could be an early election if BSP chief Mayawati goes for a poll by 2011-end, such incidents may help section of politicians who want polarization on communal lines to win votes.
Meerut, pronounced as Merath, had attained notoriety for the communal violence. The Maliana killings in which the role of UP's PAC was established, had occurred in 1987. Fortunately, the City had shed its communal past in the last 24 years and was no longer seen as a troubled place.
Prominent citizens and politicians have appealed to residents to maintain calm and ensure that there is no violence, as it can bring bad name to the City. Local MLAs and MPs have also said that the citizens should not pay heed to rumour-mongers and assist administration in bringing order.
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