In an embarrassment for the Uttar Pradesh government, Governor Ram Naik yesterday termed the Kasganj communal clashes as a “blot” on the state and asked the state authorities to initiate measures to ensure such incidents did not recur. Describing the clashes as “shameful”, Naik observed that this was for the first time in the last 9-10 months that such an incident occurred in the state. Under fire over the violence, the UP government went into damage control mode and shunted out Kasganj Superintendent of Police Sunil Kumar Singh to “a less significant post”, according to officials. Piyush Srivastava was appointed the new Kasganj SP, officials said. Singh was sent to Police Training School, Meerut, in the same rank, they said. The state authorities also presented a cheque of Rs 20 lakh to family members of Chandan Gupta, who was killed in the violence. At least three shops, two buses and a car were torched after Gupta was killed in clashes following stone-pelting by a mob on a motorcycle rally taken out to celebrate Republic Day.
Volunteers of organisations like the Vishva Hindu Parishad, Hindu Mahasabha and ABVP had taken out the rally -‘Tiranga Yatra’. After passing through the Kotwali area, they were about to pass through a Muslim dominated area when some people objected to its passage. This resulted in heated exchange of words and eventually escalated to firing in which Gupta lost his life, according to officials. “Whatever happened in Kasganj was not good. The incident there is a blot on UP. The government is probing the incident. It should initiate effective measures to ensure that such incidents are not repeated,” Governor Naik told reporters here. The strong words from Naik came days after Vice President Venkaiah Naidu advised the Adityanath government to improve the law and order in the state. UP government spokesman and senior cabinet minister Sidharth Nath Singh, however, said that there were reports that shops were opening now. “The situation is returning to normal, which is a good sign,” he said. Singh attacked the SP and the BSP for blaming the BJP government for the incident.
“Their comments reflect their appeasement of a particular community. During their regimes, FIRs were not registered but our government will ensure an unbiased probe,” he said. As many as 118 people have been arrested in connection with the violence following which security forces are maintaining strict vigil. District authorities in Kasganj, said the situation was returning to normal even as more arrests were being made in connection with the violence. Kasganj District Magistrate RP Singh said, “The situation is normal now. A cheque of Rs 20 lakh has been given to family members of Chandan Gupta who died in the incident. His family has demanded martyr status be accorded to him and if they give their letter, it will be forwarded to the government.”
The UP Police, which deployed drone cameras for surveillance, said the situation was improving. Meanwhile, Congress Rajya Sabha member Pramod Tiwari demanded a probe by a sitting high court judge. “It’s certainly a failure of the state government. There should be a high-level probe by a sitting high court judge in this matter,” Tiwari said.