Kasganj riots: Has BJP started making groundwork for 2019 Lok Sabha? 

The latest communal disturbances in the western UP town bring back memories of Muzaffarnagar

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Biswajeet Banerjee

The non-descript Kasganj town in western Uttar Pradesh still simmers three days after violence which saw a 22-year-old youth being shot dead in a communal clash that marred Republic Day celebrations.

Despite the administration’s claims that the situation has been brought under control, fear is still palpable amongst the residents. The administration declared that educational institutions should start functioning normally but people are reluctant to send their children to schools. Attendance in schools and colleges was almost negligible on Monday.

“The normal activity of Monday morning is missing. Schools are open but students are missing. The shops have not opened. Police and paramilitary personnel are on the streets but there is still apprehension that anything can happen anytime,” Suresh Shakya, a lecturer at the local KAPG College told National Herald on Monday.

What made people apprehensive was the report about the fire that broke out in an abandoned house in Manota locality on the outskirts of the city on Sunday night. A warehouse was also gutted in the fire. District magistrate RP Singh, who rushed to the spot, claimed that short circuit was the reason for the fire but people say miscreants set the abandoned house on fire to terrorise people.

With the Parliament session beginning today and Budget session of the state legislature beginning from February 8 in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced a compensation of Rs 20 lakh for the family of Abhishek alias Chandan Gupta who was killed in the violence.

Principal Secretary, Home, Arvind Kumar said on Sunday night that the compensation amount would be handed over to the family on Monday. The district authorities had already given Rs five lakh to the family as compensation.

Earlier, the family members of Chandan Gupta were holding a dharna demanding action against people who were responsible for his death, besides seeking Rs 50 lakh as compensation. Former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav too had demanded Rs 50 lakh as compensation for the deceased’s family.

Both BSP and SP have blamed the BJP government for playing politics and for targeting members of a particular community to incite communal hatred.

What has happened in Kasganj looks like a planned conspiracy. Questions are being asked as to why the Tiranga Yatra was taken out without permission from the district administration. How did stones from nearby railway tracks land on houses in a jiffy? Were these stones stored beforehand? Firearms were used by both parties to the conflict in which Chandan and Naushad received bullet injuries. Chandan died and Naushad is in an Aligarh hospital in critical condition.

These raise the pertinent question as to whether Kasganj marks the BJP’s preparations for 2019 Lok Sabha elections?

One cannot rule this out as UP had witnessed Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013 almost a year ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. That too started from the flimsy issue in which a Hindu youth was stabbed to death. In 2018 too, a Hindu man has been killed and stories have started making rounds as to how members of the minority community asked Chandan Gupta to raise pro-Pakistan slogans and how he was killed for refusing to do so. This allegation has been levelled by the mother of the deceased. Nationalistic passion is being whipped up as the weeping mother points towards the Tricolour in a video.

Is this the beginning of a boisterous campaign for the 2019 elections that would hinge on the Hindu-Muslim divide after the BJP’s development and reforms planks have been found on shaky ground?

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