Meerut village witnesses exodus after riots

Report says half a dozen families have shifted to their relatives

Fearing retribution, several members of a particular community have reportedly left Kharkhaunda, a small town in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut district, about 500 kilometres from here, following a communal flare-up after an alleged gang-rape and forced conversion of a girl at a religious school.

According to the reports, at least half a dozen families have shifted to their relatives’ homes in the past couple of days. Eyewitnesses said that one family left the town with baggage on Saturday. Reports said that several houses in the town, which has a mixed population, were seen locked after the flare-up last week. Local police officials, while conceding that some families have indeed left the town, claimed that they might be visiting their relatives. “They will come back after spending some time there”, said a senior police official in Meerut.

The officials, however, said that they would ‘look into’ the reports of an exodus. “We will talk to those who may be thinking of leaving and persuade them to stay back...the situation at Kharkhanuda is quite normal”, the official said.

Hundreds of people had come on to the streets and laid siege to a police station and pelted stones at the homes of particular community’s members triggering communal tension in the area.

The mob had also broken a few doors in its bid to enter some houses at Kharkhaunda. Clashes had also occurred between the members of the two communities a couple of days later as well.

Though the security personnel in strength had been deployed at Kharkhaunda, tension still persisted in the town. Saffron outfits have been holding demonstrations demanding stern action against the culprits.

The trouble had sparked after a girl was allegedly gang-raped and forced to convert after being kept hostage at a religious school in Muzaffarnagar. Meerut is very close to both Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar, which had witnessed large scale communal violence in the past.

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