Muzaffarnagar riots: One year on but fear, trauma still loom in the region

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Approximately 1,000 Army jawans were deployed in riots
It's been one year since the deadly violence hit the Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, but an uneasy calm still prevailing in the area. Even as the State Government and district authorities described the situation as normal and quiet, the area is shrouded with the fear of a violence outbreak yet again. Families of the deceased organised condolence meetings and havans for their lost ones on Wednesday.

Muzaffarnagar riots: The worst violence in recent history of UP

  • The clashes broke out between two communities in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh during the months of August and September, 2013.
  • The clashes resulted in at least 62 deaths and injured 93. More than 50,000 people were displaced during the riots.
  • The riot has been described as "the worst violence in Uttar Pradesh in recent history".
  • Approximately 1,000 Army jawans were deployed and curfew was imposed in the violence-hit areas.
  • 10,000 Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel, 1,300 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers and 1,200 Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel were deployed to control the situation.
  • Around 10,000 to 12,000 preventive arrests were made by the police as of 11 September 2013.
  • On 17 September, the curfew was lifted from all riot affected areas and the Army was also withdrawn.

Reasons behind the riots

  • Media reports said that incident of eve teasing was the reason behind the outbreak of the riots.
  • According to reports, 17-year-old girl was stalked and harassed by a Muslim boy identified as Shahnawaz, a resident of Kawal village.
  • Shahnawaz was beaten to death by girl's brothers. The duo was killed by a group of Muslims within 45 minutes of Shahnawaz's death on August 27.
  • According to media reports, death of these three people triggered riots between the Hindus and Muslims.

What happened in August last year?

  • The situation in Muzaffarnagar deteriorated after 27 August, when two youths of the Jat community were beaten to death in Kawaal village.
  • The Jat community organized a `panchayat' at Jaansath town on 31 August to protest the incident.
  • The panchayat demanded action against the culprits responsible for the murder of the two Jat youths.
  • The panchayat then announced to organize a `mahapanchayat' on 7 September, at Nagla Mandaur, if their demands were not met.
  • Around 2,000 Jats returning from the Mahapanchayat held at Kawaal were ambushed by a Muslim mob armed with rifles and other sophisticated weapons near Jauli Canal on 7 September.

Supreme Court raps Akhilesh Govt for failing to prevent riots

  • The Supreme Court held the Akhilesh Yadav-led-Samajwadi Party, prima facie guilty of negligence in preventing the violence.
  • The court ordered to immediately arrest all those accused irrespective of their political affiliation.
  • The apex court also blamed the Central Government for its failure to provide intelligence inputs to the State Government in time to help sound alerts.
  • The SC directed the Government to pay compensation of Rs 15 lakh to family members of those who lost their life and Rs 5 lakh to rape victims.

The investigation so far

  • The Uttar Pradesh Government announced a one-member judicial commission composed of Justice Vishnu Sahay, a retired Allahabad High Court judge on 9 September 2013.
  • The commission was asked to submit a report within two months but later on extended its tenure for six months.
  • The UP Government also appointed special Investigation Cell (SIC) to probe into the riots.
  • It found the involvement of 1550 accused in different cases.
  • Out of 1550, 750 accused have been arrested so far, 800 are still absconding.
  • The SIC completed its investigation in 370 out of 510 riot cases.
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