Muzaffarnagar curfew lifted, Army begins withdrawal

Muzaffarnagar curfew lifted, Army begins withdrawal

With normalcy returning to riot-torn Muzaffarnagar, nine days after it was rocked by large-scale communal violence, authorities have lifted the curfew and are now focussing on the issue of those displaced, as the Army begins its retreat.

Curfew was imposed on the town on September 7. The Army, which had been deployed in the district following the violence, has started to leave the district after officials wrote to the Centre for its withdrawal following improvement in the situation, official sources said on Tuesday.

The officials said that paramilitary forces would be deployed in the town and other sensitive areas as a precautionary measure, while facilitating the return of displaced people to their homes and ensuring their safety. There were around 43,000 people in several relief camps in the district.

Communal violence had also engulfed Meerut, Baghpat, Saharanpur, Shamli and Hapur districts and at least eight deaths had been reported from there, sources said.

In Muzaffarnagar, riots have claimed the lives of at least 47 people and left over a 100 injured. Around 400 people have been arrested in connection with the riots. Security personnel, aided by the Army, have launched a massive operation to search for weapons in affected areas, sources said.

The police had recovered arms, ammunition and other sharp-edged weapons in large quantities. Over 1,500 arms licences have been cancelled. The police have registered cases against BJP legislators Hukum Singh, Sangeet Som and also Congress leader Harendra Malik on the charge of trying to violate prohibitory orders.

Several senior police and civil officers, including the commissioner and the DIG of police of the Saharanpur range, were shunted out of the district for their failure to contain violence. Police chiefs of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts were also transferred.

The trouble allegedly sparked off after a member of a particular community was beaten to death by a frenzied mob during a “mahapanchayat”, which had been organised to protest against the killing of two youths by members of a particular community at Kaval village in the district.