With the death toll in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar nearing the 50 mark — the official count is 35 — Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has been quick to blame the violence on a political conspiracy to destabilise his government. But The Indian Express, after spending four days on the ground with riot-hit villagers , community leaders, police and administration officials, found specific examples that show delay, inaction and failure at several levels of the administration right up to the top.
* A day after the riots began on September 7, it was not Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, but his father and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav who called an emergency meeting. This meeting hardly helped matters. No action was taken after a Jat mahapanchayat was called that afternoon as a response to the killing. By that night, at least 11 deaths had already been reported. Editorial: Communal conflict in UP must be checked
* On August 27, the day the first sparks flew in Kawaal village, police inaction was clear. Two young men, Gaurav and Sachin, killed one Shahnawaz after a petty quarrel. Both were lynched by angry residents of the village. “The assault went on for at least 30 minutes. There’s a police outpost less than a kilometre from the scene of the crime no policeman showed up for one full hour, said Ramesh Chandra, a resident of Kawaal.
* Hours after this incident, SSP of Muzaffarnagar — under which Kawaal falls — Manzil Saini and District Magistrate Surender Singh were transferred. Their replacements took time to settle in, losing precious time in dealing with the situation. This, many say, created an administrative vacuum of sorts. “They were new to the district and there are several other things that need attention. The former SSP and DM knew the lay of the land. On August 27, no violence had taken place. It was only a localised incident that could have been handled differently. These knee-jerk transfers do not serve any purpose,” said a senior police officer who did not wish to be named. Muzaffarnagar riots: 4 BJP MLAs, Cong leader booked for inciting mob
* Jat mahapanchayats, in which people were egging