Communal flare-ups, curfews and prohibitory orders have become the order of the day in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state.
In recent times, communal clashes have taken place in at least 10 districts across the sprawling state, triggering both social and political tensions. The situation has come to such a pass that Governor Ram Naik has publicly rapped the Samajwadi Party government.
“I have been talking to the chief minister on this issue in the past and again plan to take it up with him,” Naik told IANS. He said the situation “needed to be improved” and fast.
With the festivals of Navratri, Dussehra and Moharram coinciding, small flashpoints were expected by the police.
But what has taken the security and intelligence agencies by surprise is the scale and magnitude of the violence in 10 districts.
These include Kannauj, Kanpur, Banda, Balrampur, Ambedkarnagar, Gorakhpur, Siddharthanagar, Allahabad, Kushniagar as well as Pratapgarh.
Some of these places didn’t see violence even in the aftermath of the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya.
Pulkit Tandon, a chemist in Kannauj, says the developments “are very disturbing”.
Blaming the Akhilesh Yadav government, Tandon told IANS that both the government and the police seemed to be siding with “one community, so much so that the voice of the majority community is not being heard”.
Security forces conducted a flag march in Kannauj, famous for its ‘itra’ (perfumes), on Sunday. It is also the parliamentary constituency of Dimple Yadav, the chief minister’s wife.
Communal clashes erupted there last week after a major Durga procession was fired at Lakhan Chauraha, leaving one person dead and many others injured.
Policemen were attacked subsequently and vehicles were torched, leading to curfew.
In Balrampur, over the past few days, during a Tazia procession, stones were pelted at a religious place, leading to violence.
A procession was stopped by the administration in Pratapgarh, an elderly man was killed in clashes in Ambedkarnagar, two communities fought in Shohratgarh town in Allahabad, a youth was killed during a procession in Siddharthanagar, an idol was broken in Gorakhpur, two communities came face to face in Kasaya in Kushinagar, and people fought pitched battles with police in Turtipar Ghat in Ballia.
The Samajwadi Party government blames the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the turmoil. The latter says the government is levelling wild allegations to cover up its failures.
A retired Uttar Pradesh police chief blamed the force for failing to tackle the communal tensions and violence.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Swamy Prasad Maurya says the riots in Uttar Pradesh were a deep rooted conspiracy and the government was “a mute spectator”.
“The government has a lot to explain. Why has it not been able to control the riots?” the BSP leader asked.
Congress leader Nirmal Khatri too blames the government for the mess, and says it has failed to protect people and maintain law and order.
“What is more saddening is that even as communal violence is spreading, the administration seems to be trying to protect the mischief makers,” he said.