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India political parties in blame game over communal violence

Political parties in India have been trading barbs over Saturday's (July 26) violence in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. At least three people were killed and dozens injured, when Sikh and Muslim communities attacked each other over disputed land.

INDIA: Political parties in India have been trading barbs over Saturday's (July 26) violence in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. At least three people were killed and dozens injured, when Sikh and Muslim communities attacked each other over disputed land.

Two days after violence broke out in Saharanpur, in western Uttar Pradesh, north India, an uneasy calm has fallen over the city. The district administration relaxed a curfew for a few hours on Monday to allow residents to shop for Eid celebrations.

The violence was reportedly triggered when the Sikh community had started construction on land – where ownership is disputed by Muslims. As the two groups confronted each other with guns and swords, rioters also threw stones, set shops ablaze, and vandalised public property.

Saturday's clashes were the fourth incident of communal violence in Uttar Pradesh this year. Almost a year ago, protests in Muzaffarnagar, in northern Uttar Pradesh, left 63 dead and over 50,000 homeless.

Rajesh Kumar Pandey, senior superintendent of police, said: "We will take strict measures and look deeper into the issue as soon as the situation normalises here. The rioters will be arrested and due action will be taken against them."

So far, authorities have sent 600 paramilitary force personnel to patrol the riot-hit areas.

Despite the local government's measures to control the attacks, a political blame game has already started, with the ruling federal Bharatiya Janata Party firing attacks.

Sudhanshu Trivedi, Bharatiya Janata Party leader, said: "Since the Samajwadi Party government came to power in Uttar Pradesh, the law and order situation and the situation of communal harmony has becoming from bad to worse. There has been a series of communal riots going on since last two years."

But leaders from the state's ruling Samajwadi Party have been quick to defend the security conditions in Uttar Pradesh.

Naresh Agarwal, Samajwadi Party leader, said: "Government data indicates that the crime rate in BJP-led states, such as Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and even Congress-led Maharashtra is far more that what it is in Uttar Pradesh. But nobody's looking into that. I don't think there is any need to worry about the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh."

Meanwhile, India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh has briefed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the situation.

The recent spurt in communal violence in Uttar Pradesh brings the state's ruling Samajwadi Party under fire again. The two-year-old provincial government has already been criticised for an increasing crime rate.

The riots have also placed the onus on the new Modi-led federal government to improve communal relations in Uttar Pradesh, where it had big wins in the general elections.  

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