At least three shops, two private buses and a car were torched on the second day of violence in Uttar Pradesh's Kasganj city today, police said, after a young boy was killed in clashes following stone- pelting on a motorcycle rally taken out to celebrate the Republic Day.
Internet services have also been suspended till 10 pm on January 28 in trouble-torn areas in western UP, where a curfew was imposed after clashes, to prevent spread of rumours on social media, they said.
Elaborating about the extent of damage, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Anand Kumar told PTI, "In all, three shops have been damaged, by pouring petrol below the shutter and setting it afire. Fire was also set on the seats of two private buses, but the engine of the buses are intact. One empty kiosk was also set ablaze by the anti- social elements.
Kasganj: Three vehicles set ablaze in two separate incidents in Nadrai & Chungi; Aligarh Division Commissioner SC Sharma says,'we are patrolling the area & trying to avoid such incidents. This incident took place in outskirts & so we don't have much info about it' #KasganjClashes pic.twitter.com/3x8oRvKVYv— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) January 27, 2018
In the evening, the seats of an abandoned car were set ablaze." He claimed that no violence took place today, and "violence took place only yesterday". The ADG added, "Some anti-social elements had tried to break into the gate of a mosque, but were unable to do so, as police chased them away."
Meanwhile, District Magistrate R P Singh said, "Internet services were also suspended in trouble-torn area till 10 pm on January 28." Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar said, "Two cases were registered on Friday.
As many as nine arrests in two cases, 40 more preventive arrests have been made. ADG Agra Zone/Commissioner Aligarh/IG Aligarh range have been camping there since yesterday, an IG-level officer, D K Thakur, has reached there from Lucknow and camping since yesterday night."
He added, "Five companies of PAC and 1 RAF company had reached there along with additional civil police officers/policemen from the zone. one more Company of RAF has been provided today."
The principal secretary (home) also informed, "After the peaceful cremation in the morning, some miscreants have tried to disturb peace which has been strictly dealt with. Only sporadic attempts of arson in the outskirts took place today.
A government spokesperson said prohibitory orders still remained in effect, but did not say whether the curfew had been lifted. A strong posse of RAF and PAC personnel have intensified vigil in the district, whose borders have been sealed to stop elements detrimental to peace from sneaking into the city."In all, 50 accused persons have been arrested.
Efforts are on to arrest the rest of the accused," the ADG said, adding that the figure was likely to go up.
Elaborating on the genesis of the clashes, the police said in a statement that a few people were riding motorcycles carrying the tricolours and were chanting 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai'. As the procession reached minority community-dominated Baddunagar, "anti-social elements" pelted stones and opened fire.
"In this (firing), Chandan was killed and Naushad was injured. Naushad was referred to Aligarh for treatment," it said. Another man, identified as Akram, received head injuries. The two were undergoing treatment at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College in Aligarh. Naushad was out of danger and Akram was being operated upon, the hospital authorities said.
The motorcycle rally was taken out by VHP and ABVP volunteers as part of celebrations on the 69th Republic Day. Meanwhile, the police today stopped firebrand leader Sadhvi Prachi in Aligarh and prevented her from visiting Kasganj.
She, however, said: "If the district administration really wanted, it would have not allowed the violence."
Earlier today, Additional DG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said, "Anti-social elements today tried to set on fire a small shop on the city's outskirts... Some of them have been taken into custody, while others were chased away."
"Our main job at this point is to ensure...that brotherhood among communities remain intact," Kumar told reporters. The police were trying to make people "understand communal bonhomie", he said, adding that the situation was under control now. "Sufficient police personnel have been deployed."
Superintendent of Police, Kasganj, Sunil Kumar Singh, said: "Anti-social elements had set two shoe shops on fire in Ghantaghar market, and fire brigade was pressed into action.
"Apart from this, one utensil shop was set afire and a bus was also damaged by anti-social elements, who set it on fire. Fire brigade was called in to douse the fires."
Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya described the violence as unfortunate, and said the people behind it would not go unpunished.
But Samajwadi Party spokesperson Sunil Singh 'Sajan' demanded more than just assurance from the state government.
"The UP government must act tough on the anti-social elements, so that this acts as a deterrent for others."
UP Congress spokesperson Virendra Madan suggested the violence was connected to Lok Sabha polls, due next year.
"The state government must show seriousness and control the situation at the earliest... Is there any possible link of this violence with 2019 Lok Sabha elections for polarisation?" Divisional commissioner of Aligarh, Subhash Chandra Sharma, said the violence erupted after the cremation of the boy, who died on Friday.