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Two killed in communal violence in Saharanpur, curfew clamped

SAHARANPUR: Two persons were on Saturday killed and at least 12 others injured as violent clashes broke out between two communities over a land dispute in this western Uttar Pradesh district with mobs indulging in brick batting and arson, prompting authorities to clamp curfew.

“Harish Kochar, a traders’ leader, and an unidentified person have been killed in the clashes. A policeman has sustained bullet injury in the clashes and has been referred to PGI in a serious condition,” Commissioner, Saharanpur, Tanveer Zafar Ali said.

Police used force and fired rubber bullets to control the situation as mobs went on rampage setting ablaze a number of shops. He said that prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC have been invoked in the district and curfew has been clamped in six areas.

Tension prevailed in the district and a large contingent of security personnel including those of police, Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and Rapid Action Force (RAF) has been deployed in the area and paramilitary forces have also been called.

 “As per the information received so far there was a dispute over land between two communities which escalated this morning,” Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Mukul Goel said. He said curfew has been clamped following the clashes. The dispute escalated when members of one community started construction work at the site in Kutubsher area in the wee hours this morning, leading to violent clashes.

UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav directed senior home department officials to strictly handle the situation in the two areas. “A continuous monitoring of the situation in Saharanpur and Moradabad is being done by senior police and government officials,” Principal Secretary (Information) Navneet Sehgalsaid.

“The CM has directed Principal Secretary (Home) to deal with the Saharanpur situation strictly. He has directed that there must be no laxity at any level and law and order must be maintained at any cost,” he said.

Meanwhile, both the sides indulged in heavy brick batting, arson and opened fire and there were reports of several shops being gutted in the clash, police said. In a bid to control the situation, police used force and fired rubber bullets. A dozen people have been arrested for inciting violence over the land dispute.

Even as curfew has been clamped, sporadic incidents of clashes were reported and tension prevails. The ADG said senior officers were camping in the area. Meanwhile, traffic on the national highway connecting Ambala was thrown out of gear as protestors went on the rampage.

Situation is also tense in Moradabad where BJP has announced a visit to Kanth area. BJP alleged that its senior leaders were either detained or prevented from reaching Kanth. Clashes had erupted between BJP workers and the police in Kanth on July 4 over holding of a mahapanchayat called by the party to protest removal of a loudspeaker from a temple in Akbarpur village, which led to communal tension in the area.