PILIBHIT: A day after the incident at the Janmashtami Mela grounds at Barkhera in Pilibhit district, where six people were severely thrashed after an altercation that threatened to erupt into a communal clash, police and district authorities are maintaining a strict vigil.
A confrontation between two groups at the mela on Thursday left two people critically injured and in ICU for a few hours.
Police were especially cautious, as Friday prayers at mosques were in progress through the day. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, in a memorandum to the district magistrate, has demanded the arrest of the main accused in the Barkhera discord, Jamil Ahmad Ansari, also the chairman of the town area committee. Ansari and some of his accomplices have been “absconding” since the violence at the fair on Thursday.
Although police claim Ansari is absconding, there are people who believe that police is reluctant to arrest him because of his political influence.
The VHP has demanded that Ansari and his accomplices be arrested within 24 hours, and charged under the National Security Act. VHP leaders say that their agitation will spread across the district if the police fail to make the arrests in a day.
District superintendent of police Sonia Singh and district magistrate Om Narayan Singh camped at Barkhera police station on Friday, to review the situation. The SP said the situation is returning to normal, and no fresh reports of tension were received.
Police have lodged FIRs from both parties – the chairman of the Barkhera town area committee, in an FIR lodged on Friday, levelled accusations of assault and damage to property against a particular group, and named seven people. In an FIR filed on Thursday, Ansari himself was among six accused. Circle officer Bisalpur said Ansari’s FIR named Kamlesh,Vikky Saxena, Suresh, Mahesh, Lal Singh and Manish.
VHP district president Deepak Agrawal told TOI that the workers of the VHP would stage demonstrations and resort to agitation if the police did not arrest Jamil Ahmad Ansari and his absconding accomplices in 24 hours, and asserted that the time period allowed to the police would begin from Friday.