Army put on alert after clashes in Meerut

Last Updated 29 September 2013, 19:36 IST

Barely a fortnight after the Army was withdrawn from the riot-hit Muzaffarnagar district, it was put on alert again after several people, including some cops, were injured when a “panchayat” in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut district turned violent on Sunday and clashed with the police, prompting security officials to open fire and resort to lathi charge.

Angry over the police action, the people went on a rampage, damaging a large number of vehicles, and indulged in heavy stone-pelting. Some journalists covering the event were also injured in the violence, said reports.

The panchayat, banned by the state government on law-and-order grounds, had been convened at Kheda village in the district in protest against the arrest of BJP MLA Sangeet Som for his alleged role in the recent Muzaffarnagar communal riots. Despite the ban, thousands of people, including women, managed to reach the venue by walking through sugar cane fields, taking security personnel by surprise.

According to reports, trouble began after the police allegedly carried out a lathi charge, in which some women sustained injuries.

An enraged mob then chased the officials and damaged a large number of vehicles. The security officials had to take shelter in an educational institution.

UP Home Secretary Kamal Saxena said 13 cops were among those injured in the violence. Over two dozen people have been taken into custody in connection with it.

Police said a youth had sustained gunshot injuries and had been admitted to the hospital. Unconfirmed reports said that the youth, identified as one Mohit, was in critical condition.
Meerut District Magistrate Navdeep Rinwa said the situation was “under control”, and appealed to the people not to pay attention to rumours. He added that the Army had been put on alert.

Eyewitness accounts, however, said that tension still prevailed in the area and additional security forces had been rushed there to maintain law and order.

Citing law-and-order issues, the state government had banned “all-party panchayats”, one of which was called on Sunday to register protest over Som's arrest.

The state government has slapped charges under the National Security Act on Som, who has been accused of uploading a “fake provocative video” on a social networking site, besides delivering provocative speeches.

(Published 29 September 2013, 19:36 IST)

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