Kasganj Violence: What Has Happened So Far

29 Jan 2018 7:43 AM GMT
Kasganj Violence: What Has Happened So Far
Courtesy: NDTV, NDTV, The Indian Express | Image Credit: India Today, NDTV

The police have arrested at least 112 people following a violence that erupted after the death of 22-year-old Chandan Gupta in communal clashes over the weekend.

What sparked the violence?

The incident occurred in Kasganj district of Uttar Pradesh where two groups pelted stones at each other on Friday, Republic Day, during a “Tiranga Bike Rally” by activists of the RSS-backed students’ group ABVP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Reports suggest that Chandan was a participant in the rally.

A mobile phone video accessed by NDTV shows hundreds of young men, many holding saffron flags, standing at one of the streets. Reports suggest that they were asked by locals to give way, but they refused. In the video, the members of the rally can be heard saying that they won’t change the route. They were screaming slogans and said that everyone will have to chant “Vande Mataram” if they wish to live in India.

The violence started soon after. Stone pelting followed and gunshots were fired.

The locals, who were mostly Muslims, gave accounts to the media that they had arranged for Republic Day celebrations in the area when hundreds of men in motorcycles came. The locals asked them to not take the route as there were chairs kept for the program and a flag hoisting ceremony was about to commence. But the RSS-backed groups started sloganeering.

BJP’s Kasganj district chief, Purendra Pratap Singh Solanki, denied allegations that his party was involved in the clash. “The victim, Chandan Gupta, did not belong to the BJP or any of its affiliated organisations. The Tiranga Yatra was taken out by local residents,” he claimed.

Chandan died in the clashes, while Naushad, a labourer who was on his way home from work, got caught in the crossfire and a bullet hit his leg. He is currently out of danger.

Various Hindu organisations have been alleging that the riot was the result of a well-thought-out conspiracy, according to The Week. The daily also reports that the police have arrested one Vaseem Javed for murder and a pistol was recovered from his residence in search operations. However, according to police, his role in the incident is being probed.

The Logical Indian tried contacting Kasganj SP Sunil Kumar Singh, but he kept disconnecting our calls. In our last attempt to reach out for a comment, he said “Phir wahi baat (again the same question)” and hung up.

Meanwhile, there have been other media reports that say a crude bomb along with a pistol and cartridges were seized from the homes of men arrested for the violence.

Another UP resident of the district of Lakhimpur Kheri Mohd Akram, driving his car through Kasganj on Friday night to meet his pregnant wife in Aligarh, was ambushed by the mob. He was dragged out his car and the hooligans tried to gouge out his eye. Akram somehow managed to escape. His eye has been operated upon at a hospital in Aligarh, where he is still admitted.

Section 144 was imposed in the area. “All those who have been arrested are Muslims. Investigations are going on,” said IG Dhruva Kant Thakur, reported The Indian Express.

What was the reaction to Chandan’s death?

On the second day of the violence, at least 10 shops, two private buses and a car were torched after the young man’s death. Internet services were shut down on Sunday till 10 pm to stop the spread of rumours.

Elaborating about the extent of damage, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Anand Kumar told PTI, “In all, three shops have been damaged, by pouring petrol below the shutter and setting it afire. Fire was also set on the seats of two private buses, but the engine of the buses are intact. One empty kiosk was also set ablaze by the anti-social elements. In the evening, the seats of an abandoned car were set ablaze.”

He claimed that no violence took place on Sunday, and “violence took place only yesterday (Saturday)”. The ADG added, “Some anti-social elements had tried to break into the gate of a mosque yesterday, but were unable to do so, as police chased them away.”

On Sunday, about 200 people took part in the funeral procession as Chandan’s body, wrapped in the national flag, was taken to the cremation ground, reported The Indian Express. When local BJP MP Rajveer Singh arrived, the crowd demanded compensation and a government job for the deceased family.

The Indian Express reported that son of former UP CM Kalyan Singh who was supporting the sloganeering men, received a call from CM Yogi Adityanath. He handed over the phone to an activist of the Akhil Bhartiya Vaishya Ekta Samaj, Pradeep Chandra Gupta, who knows the victim’s family.

“Yogiji, aap inko Rs 50 lakh compensation, sarkari naukri aur shaheed ka darja ki ghoshna karein… lad rahe hain aapke liye aur ladte rahenge (Yogiji, please announce Rs 50 lakh compensation, a government job and martyr’s status for them… we are fighting for you and will continue to fight for you),” Pradeep Chandra Gupta told the caller.

On Sunday, CM Adityanath granted a compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the family, reported Business Standard.

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