UP riot accused fear arrest while casting their vote

Panchayats protest against move

The apprehension that police may try to arrest those named in last year’s communal riots while they go about casting their vote in the Lok Sabha polls, has triggered tension in the region. Caste  panchayats have warned of “serious consequences”.

Reports said the caste panchayats in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts have decided to ‘protest with all their might’ any attempt by the administration to arrest the named riot accused while voting. Polling in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli is slated for Thursday.Sources said the authorities will keep a strict eye on the voters from the riot-torn villages in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli on the day of polling and if any riot accused is spotted casting his vote, he will be arrested.

An all women panchayat held recently at Bahawadi in Shamli warned the administration against any such move.

“On one hand the authorities are asking the people to come out in large numbers and exercise their franchise and on the other they are planning to arrest those who had been wrongly implicated in the riots,” said a panchayat member.Although a large number of people had been named in the FIRs registered in connection with last year’s communal riots, only a few hundred people have been arrested so far.

Earlier also the police had to encounter stiff resistance from the villagers when they had conducted raids in the villages to arrest the accused persons. At some villages the people, including the womenfolk fought pitched battles with the police who  had to beat a hasty retreat without making any arrest.

A few days back, a panchayat at Mohammedpur Raisingh in Muzaffarnagar district had banned the entry of police in the village accusing them of making arbitrary arrests of members of only one community.

Officers fear that there could be clashes between the police and people on the polling day if an attempt was made to arrest the named accused persons.

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