Muzaffarnagar Riots: BKU presses for arrest of culprits, victims rehabilitation

Muzaffarnagar (Uttar Pradesh), Sept.19 (ANI): The Bharat Kisan Union (BKU) has demanded the arrest of those responsible for the violence in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh.

The death count from the violence has been pegged at 38 lives so far. Hundreds have been forced to flee their homes.

The BKU has also called for the rehabilitation of thousands of riot survivors.

Some reports said the violence broke out when a mob attacked a vehicle after the meeting.

Three of the politicians were from the Bharatiya Janata Party and one from the Congress party, which heads the national coalition government.

A sting operation had allegedly revealed the involvement of senior leaders and the Government of Uttar Pradesh in the violence that rocked Muzaffarnagar district of the state.

During the sting operation, the officials admitted that there was pressure from the top and they were forced to release the rioters.

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait on Thursday called for strict action against perpetrators of violence.

"You cannot deny that there is political hand in the current situation. The people who are in the government, they should take action," said Tikait.

Police had evacuated Hindu and Muslim villagers on Monday in the district of Muzaffarnagar, 130 km northeast of New Delhi.

Some locals, fearful after the attackers beat children and burned property, hid in fields and police stations, or fled in ox carts and tractors on Sunday.

The chairperson for the National Commission on Minorities, Wajahat Habibullah, said that the area of concern was to ensure safety and security of the victims.

"The concern is related to the administration and the way we can help the administration so that people who have been rendered homeless are rehabilitated," said Habibullah.

Violence between Muslims and Hindus has been a defining feature of Indian politics since the separation of Pakistan in 1947, when hundreds of thousands of people were killed and millions displaced.

Religion and caste violence plays a central role in politics in Uttar Pradesh, one of India's poorest states with a population larger than that of Russia. Fanning the tension often brings political gain to parties that claim to protect different religious and caste groups from one another.

State police registered cases against six local politicians for allegedly giving inflammatory speeches at a meeting.

In 1992, 2,000 people were killed in riots after the demolition of a 16th century mosque built near a sacred Hindu site in the Uttar Pradesh town of Ayodhya.

Hindu political mobilization around that conflict thrust the BJP onto the national stage and played a role in bringing it to power in the late 1990s. (ANI)

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