Curfew casts shadow over Eid celebrations in Saharanpur

AM Jigeesh Saharanpur (UP) | Updated on July 29, 2014

Will the peace last? Muslims offering prayers in Saharanpur on Tuesday on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. PTI

City limping back to normalcy after riots

The mood was not at all festive, said Qazi Nadeem Akhtar, after his Eid day speech at the Eidgah ground here on Tuesday.

“After all, it’s Eid and we have to fulfil certain religious obligations,” he added. Akhtar, however, was satisfied that the city, still under curfew, was coming back to normalcy after days of riots and violence.

Unlike other years, the police and other authorities were also keenly listening to what he told a crowd of few thousands who performed the namaz on the ground.

The police also looked relieved after the speech, as the Qazi stressed on the importance of co-existence of religions throughout his speech.

“I am confident that peace can be brought back after dialogues with all the affected people. No ordinary person is interested in violence,” he said.

Saharanpur erupted into clashes last week following a land dispute between members of the Muslim and Sikh communities. Three people were killed while 19 others, including policemen, were injured in the violence that followed.

While political parties are still engaged in a blame-game, informal dialogues are on among the leaders of various sections of the society.

“The problem is that the younger generation no more has confidence in older leaders. They are sceptical of the intentions of such leaders. It’s very hard to convince them,” a person who is mediating dialogues between the communities told BusinessLine.

Breaking tradition

Former MP and BSP leader Jagdish Singh Rana said this is the third curfew he is witnessing after the Indira Gandhi assassination murder and the Babri Masjid demolition. “Saharanpur is a peaceful area. For the last three years, there have been attempts to break that tradition. This time the violence is apparently keeping in mind the upcoming by-polls to the Assembly,” he said.

The BSP, yet to recover from the Lok Sabha defeat, is not contesting the by-elections.

The party feels that a number of issues such as non-payment of sugarcane arrears to farmers and the decline of the wood carving industry are resulting in civil unrest. “Parties like the BJP, Congress and SP are more interested in dividing people than addressing their basic concerns,” said Saharanpur MLA and BSP leader Mahavir Singh Rana.

People in the area, meanwhile, are rather fed up with the curfew. “I had to pay ₹300 for a litre of milk. Nothing is available in the market,” complained Mubashir, a resident of Qutub Shahar here.

Published on July 29, 2014

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