Seven accused have been taken into custody after three members of a Muslim family were killed in a clash in Uttar Pradesh's Bijnor on 16 September. The police is preparing to file an FIR in the case. At least 12 people are said to have been injured.
Speaking to Catch, Bijnor's Superintendent of Police Umesh Kumar Srivastava said, "A Muslim girl was harassed by boys belonging to the Jat community. It led to a clash after which members of the Jat community fired bullets, killing 3 people. Twelve more suffered injuries and are recovering".
The SP added that two policemen including the chowki in-charge and the beat constable have been placed under suspension.
The SP's version runs contrary to reports in some local vernacular dailies which said that Muslim youths harassed a girl belonging to the Jat community.
The Circle Officer of the Bijnor City police station, however, corroborates the SP's claim. He said that the clash was sparked between two groups after a group of Muslim girls were harassed by a few youth from the Jat community, while they were on their way to school.
This is further confirmed by a local. "Sometime between 7.30 and 8 am, there was a clash between youngsters belonging to the two communities at the bus stop. This happened after some Jat boys harassed a Muslim girl," said Rashid (name changed), who lives in the same village where the clash took place.
"While some people involved in the clash left, some Jat men took position on the roofs of their house and began firing at their Muslim neighbours," he added.
"When the members of the minority community protested they were fired at. One died on the spot. Two others succumbed in the hospital," the police official said. "We have brought the situation under control," said an official.
The three deceased - reportedly identified as Ahsan, Sartaj and Anees - hail from the same family.
ADG law and order Daljeet Chaudhary - who rushed to the spot after learning about the incident - told Catch that seven people have been detained and the situation is under control.
Javeed Ahmad, Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police, told a news channel that the deaths occurred after 'unprovoked firing' from one side - an apparent reference to the Jats who opened fire on the members of a Muslim family.
"There was firing and stone pelting," local police official said. The site of the clash, Paeda, is three kilometres from the city centre and falls under the Bijnor city police station.
"It's a serious incident. And has taken a communal turn since both the groups belong to different religious communities," a local police official said. He also added that an issue over irrigating the farm land had exacerbated matters between the two groups.
According to locals and police officials, on Friday evening, a group of angry people belonging to the minority community targeted a private clinic, which led to panic in the local market and the shops shut down.
Western UP has seen multiple cases where alleged cases of eve-teasing have led to communal discord. In fact, it was an alleged case of eve-teasing and murders which sparked the spiral of communal turbulence which finally culminated in riots in Muzaffarnagar on 7 September, 2013.
More details are awaited.