Two people died and more than a dozen sustained injuries on Saturday when a dispute over a piece of land sparked communal clashes between Muslim and Sikh communities in the Saharanpur district of Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP).
The dispute broke out when members of one of the communities started construction on the land between two places of worship, including a Gurdwara, in the Qutub Sheikh area of the city. The dispute later took a communal turn.
According to the BBC Urdu, angry mobs from both the communities resorted to violence and there were reports of a large number of incendiary incidents. The police used rubber bullets to disperse rioters. According to the police, around 12 people were arrested following the riots. Some 20 men, including police personnel, were injured, while some Indian news channels reported two fatalities.
Saharanpur’s senior police official Rajesh Panday said authorities had imposed curfew in the precincts of five police stations, including the Qutub Sheikh area.
Meanwhile Indian Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh called up UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and asked him to take steps to ensure communal harmony in the state.
UP Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan said an additional contingent of security forces was sent to the area while Clause 144 had been invoked.
The situation is also tense in the neighbouring Muradabad district, where the issue of removal of loudspeakers from a Hindu temple has triggered tension. Peace marches are being held in the city while some Hindu organisations want to organise a grand meeting on the question.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2014.
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