At least 20 people, including RAF and police personnel, were today injured and a number of government vehicles damaged in a clash between villagers and police over holding a Mahapanchayat in Khera village in Meerut defying ban orders.
"In the clash that took place when police tried to prevent the violent mob, 20 persons including 19 policemen - six from RAF - were injured," IG (Law and Order) Rajkumar Vishwakarma told reporters in Lucknow.
The angry mob, when stopped started pelting stones and damaged nine vehicles of police and administration, he said.
Police used force when the District Magistrate and the DIG were surrounded by the mob, Secretary Home Kamal Saxena said.
Police lobbed tear gas shells, fired rubber bullets and fired in the air too to disperse the mob, he said.
The Mahapanchayat was called by BJP MLA Sangeet Som's brother Sagar Som and wife Nidhi against slapping of NSA on the MLA in connection with the Muzaffarnagar violence.
"The panchayat was banned by the district administration on September 27 and barricades were put on Khatauli, Budhana, Shamli and Bagpat to check those coming to attend it. However, over 6,000 people managed to reach there through fields," Vishwakarma said. 24 people have been arrested in connection with the clash, he said.
"FIRs will be lodged against organisers of the panchayat. The administration had issued 400 notices yesterday to people after banning the panchayat...Action will also be taken against them and responsibility will be fixed," the IG said.
To a question, Saxena said there was no alert from the Centre regarding holding of the panchayat.
He said notices were served in 24 villages regarding ban on panchayat and it was also advertised that no one should assemble as ban was in force.
He said the situation was under control and police patrolling had been beefed up. Principal Secretary (Home) R M Srivastava said strict action will be taken against organisers of the Mahapanchayat.
To a question, he said there was no report of any death in the incident due to police firing.
Meanwhile, Congress and BJP termed the clash in Meerut as failure of the Akhilesh Yadav government.
Congress spokesman Dwijendra Tripathi said in Lucknow, "The state government has failed to understand the sentiments of the public and the clash in Meerut was a result of its failure...The government has no right to continue in office."
Blaming BJP for the clash, Congress leader and MLA Rita Bahuguna Joshi alleged that it was game-plan of BJP to communalise the atmosphere of the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
"The clash was a result of BJP's game-plan. It wanted to create communal atmosphere in the state ahead of Lok Sabha polls. The state government should effectively keep a check on it," Joshi said.
BJP, however, held the state government responsible for the incident alleging that it failed on all the fronts especially on law and order as it was taking "one-sided and biased" actions.
"Muzaffarnagar incident took place as police took one-sided and biased action. While NSA has been slapped on BJP MLAs Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana, BSP MP Kadir Rana and Congress leader Saeeduzama wanted in the same case are roaming free," BJP state president Lakshmikant Bajpai said.
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