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Meerut still tense, curfew relaxed

for three hours

Thursday, June 18, 2009 03:13:20 PM, IANS


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Lucknow: Tension continued in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut district with curfew being relaxed for only three hours Thursday, a day after 15 people were injured when a verbal dispute between two groups escalated into large-scale vandalism and arson.


"After a meeting with the district administration, it has been decided to relax the curfew from 9 a.m. to 12 noon," Superintendent of Police (Meerut City) Rakesh Jolly told IANS over the phone.


Another review meeting between police and the district administration would be held in the evening to decide on further relaxation of curfew orders.


The trouble had started in Lisari Gate of Meerut, about 350 km from here, late Tuesday when some shopkeepers had allegedly manhandled the driver of a tractor-trolley carrying some Muslims to a religious procession.


"The driver was allegedly trying to park the vehicle in a prohibited area close to a railway crossing," Jolly had said earlier.


The violence soon spread to other localities, including Ghantaghar, Pir Tiraha and Bhumia Pul, where angry mobs targeted buses and police vehicles. At least six police motorcycles were set ablaze.


For security measures, heavy police deployment has been made in various parts of Meerut. "To prevent any untoward incident, four companies of PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary) and six companies of the RAF (Rapid Action Force) have been deployed in the district along with other security personnel," said Jolly.


The sensitive pockets where rioters indulged in violence were kept under strict patrolling by the police, the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and the Rapid Action Force (RAF). No movement was witnessed in these areas as the markets remained shut.


Compared with the normal days, almost 80 percent vehicles stayed off the roads in these areas. Most offices, schools and other educational institutions remained closed.


There was some movement on the Meerut-Delhi road.


A flag march of police, PAC and RAF was held in the curfew-affected areas that was led by Meerut Inspector General Bhanu Pratap Singh.


"The situation is completely under control. Heavy patrolling is being conducted. After Tuesday night, no incident was reported and the situation is totally under control," Singh said.


Singh, however, could not say as to when the curfew would be relaxed. "It would be decided only after a security review of the present situation," Singh said.


Sources in the administration said there was no chance of curfew relaxation Thursday.


A verbal dispute between shopkeepers and a group of Muslim protesters snowballed into a violent clash late Tuesday night in Lisari Gate area of Meerut, about 350 km from Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow.


In order to disperse the angry mob, the police along with PAC and RAF personnel resorted to lobbing tear gas shells and baton charging the vandals.


Meerut Deputy Inspector General of Police Brij Bhushan said: "Fifteen people were injured in the incident. They have been admitted to the district hospital. Twenty people have been arrested for rioting. The situation is under control."




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