HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times Lucknow, July 26, 2014
Curfew was imposed in the town, nearly 170 km from national capital Delhi and 560 km from state capital Lucknow, following the outbreak of violence in which mobs set nearly two dozen shops and a dozen vehicles on fire.
“Harish Kochar, a traders’ leader, and an unidentified person have been killed in the clashes. A policeman has sustained bullet injury in the clashes,” Saharanpur divisional commissioner Tanveer Zafar Ali said.
Watch video: Two groups clash over land dispute in Saharanpur, curfew imposed
A long-standing dispute between the two communities over two places of worship close to each other led to the flare-up, the police said.
N Ravindra, deputy inspector general of police, Saharanpur range, said litigation was on in a local court over a piece of land between the two places of worship.
On Saturday morning, members of one community began construction of a boundary wall around the land. Several members of the other community gathered and started opposing the construction.
Soon, both groups began throwing stones at each other. The clash rapidly spread to nearby localities and arson began.
The police fired in the air and baton-charged mobs. The district administration assessed the situation and quickly declared curfew in six areas.
The administration also diverted the route of the ongoing ‘kanwar yatra’.
The tension in Saharanpur comes even as the police grapple with a volatile situation at Kanth in western UP’s Moradabad district.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has declared it will lodge an FIR against police officials for excesses against party leaders and workers during and after clashes with the police over convening a mahapanchayat on July 4.
The mahapanchayat (meeting of several village councils) was proposed to protest the removal of a loudspeaker from a Dalit temple in Akabarpur Chedri village of Kanth town. The administration had denied permission for the mahapanchayat.
Western UP has been witnessing intermittent flare-ups for over a year now, the worst being the Muzaffarnagar riots in August-September 2013.
(With inputs from PTI)