With byelections round the corner, communal tension singes western UP 

BJP, which lost seven LS seats in the general election, is trying to retrieve lost ground in Western UP. Communal tension ahead of the byelections for 12 assembly seats suits it

Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media

Biswajeet Banerjee

Western Uttar Pradesh is suddenly simmering with communal tension as police used force in Agra to disperse people protesting against the lynching in Jharkhand. The incident came close on the heels of Prahladnagar incident in Meerut where people alleged they were forced to sell their houses because of machination by criminals belonging to a particular community.

The incidents and media reports point to a design ahead of the bye-elections in 12 assembly constituencies in the state.

Over the last two days Muslim youth in Agra and Meerut tried to take out protest marches to protest lynching of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand. In both the places, police resorted to lathi charge in which over a dozen people were injured. The police alleged that they used force to control the mob which was trying to shut down a market in Mantola area of Agra against the wishes of shopkeepers.

A report from Meerut says that Cane development Minister in Yogi government Suresh Rana has asked police to register cases against youth under National Security Act “for taking out a march without permission in the city”. Police has already filed FIR against 50 named and 800 unidentified people. The accused include Yuva Seva Samiti president Badar Ali and several others.

The accused were booked under 14 critical criminal cases of the IPC for violating norms. The organisers say it was a 'peace march'. “We were returning after organizing march when some shopkeepers passed comments against us suggesting we should go to Pakistan. We tried to argue our point of view when police used force against us,” Shakeel Ansari, a leader said.

In view of tension in Meerut, the district administration suspended internet service on Monday.

Shakeel said that they had started the march from Jama Maszid to the Collectorate to protest lynching of Tarbej Ansari in Jharkhand. “We do not know as why administration and police used force against us. A person was lynched and we were staging protest against that brutal incident. Do we do not enjoy the right to stage protest and raise issues of human rights violation,” he asked.

The incidents have sparked tension in areas like Mantola, Meera Hussaini, and Wazirpura in Agra.

On Sunday police had stopped a similar protest in Meerut.  The incident comes close to the heels of Prahlad Nagar incidents where members of majority community had claimed that they were forced to leave their house because of the terror of criminals belonging to other religion. Some reports however say that they were forced to move out because of better opportunities in neighbouring state.

“The UP Government wants to keep the communal pot on boil. That’s why it is using western Uttar Pradesh as flash point. This is being done keeping an eye on the bye-elections because BJP has suffered massive loss in western UP in the Lok Sabha election where it lost seven seats – five of them in Moradabad commissionary,” SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhry pointed out.

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