By Pradeep Kapoor
LUCKNOW: Communal violence in Kasganj area, which is only 100kms away from New Delhi, is continuing. This clearly shows a lack of will on the part of administration of the Yogi government. Daily shops are being set on fire, vehicles damaged and even religious places attacked. People of Kasganj are not feeling safe due to constant threats from communal and anti social elements.
There appears to be no effective administration in Kasganj. The local administration allowed more than 40 bikers to take a procession of RSS outfits Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Vishwa Hindu Parishad in a communally sensitive area. No permission was obtained by the bikers and there were no arrangements from the local administration, which led to the violence.
For more than four days incidents of violence, arson, stone pelting and clashes between the members of two communities continued, which further exposed serious administrative lapses.
Senior administrative officers sent from Lucknow expressed their displeasure with the conduct of local police officers, who miserably failed to control the violence. The first step Yogi government took was to transfer SP Sunil Kumar Singh to police training school at Meerut. Kasganj was the first posting of Sunil Kumar Singh as SP and he even hinted that the violence was the result of political conspiracy. He was replaced by Piush Srivastav as the new SP. The step was taken after Governor Ram Naik stated that Kasganj violence was shameful and a blot on UP. The government has formed an SIT to investigate the communal violence. More than 150 persons have been arrested and the SIT and other agencies are also screening 50 videos to find out real culprits.
Taking the incidents seriously, the Central Government has asked for a detailed report from the UP government. At a time when there are talks about early Lok Sabha polls, incidents like the Kasganj violence could lead to communal polarisation. As if Kasganj was not enough, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has announced a plan to take out Tiranga Yatra in 20 districts to protest against the killing of Chandan Gupta, the youth who died after having been shot. Such action by VHP and counter reaction from minorities will surely add to communal tension all over the state.
There were incidents of violence during the Tiranga Yatra of VHP in several districts on January 30. Significantly, in certain places the VHP members were carrying saffron flags instead of the national flag.
The refusal of the government to take action against local BJP MP Rajbir Singh for making a provocative speech during the funeral of the youth who died in the violence shows the soft approach by the party leadership. Rajbir, who is the son of Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh, in a statement blamed the Muslims for the clashes. “Muslims are responsible for this incident. It was pre-planned and they will be dealt with sternly,” he said. Similarly, VHP leader Virendra Tomar said, “It’s time for us to give a fitting reply to “love jihad”. BJP MP Vinay Katiyar said that Pakistan supporters were responsible for the Kasganj violence. There have been several instances previously also when BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj made controversial statements on sensitive issues, but no action was taken against him.
The complicity of the local administration was exposed by the several videos in circulation, which showed that no permission was taken for taking out the Tiranga Yatra on Republic Day. The yatra activists insisted on passing through the predominantly minorities area and raised provocative slogans, which led to a tussle and culminated in violence. While Chandan Gupta lost his life, others belonging to both the communities were injured. The police has now arrested Salim, who was allegedly responsible for the killing of Chandan Gupta.
Eyewitness accounts as well as videos in circulation revealed that the VHP-ABVP workers were also carrying saffron flags along with the national flag and were raising provocative slogans.
A remark by Raghvendra Vikram Singh, the Bareilly District Magistrate, who is a 2005 batch IAS officer, on social media that “it had become a trend to take out processions to Muslim dominated areas and raise pro-Pakistani slogans” has become controversial. He suggested that the same thing had happened in Khelam in Bareilly that was followed by stone pelting. Raghvendra Singh, who is very active on Facebook and a regular blogger, is likely to face action from the state government for his statement.
At a time when the Yogi government is busy making preparations for investors meets, incidents of communal violence and deterioration in the law and order situation, as pointed out by Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu during his recent visit, are bound to send the wrong signals.(IPA Service)