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The spike in communal clashes in Uttar Pradesh is an issue that clearly gets Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav uncomfortable and, at some level, even annoyed.
"Look, I do the best from my side. I have given a free hand to officers in the district to do their job. We have also given strict instructions within our party that no one should interfere at any level, in these matters. Koi hastakshep nahin hona chahiye (there should be no interference)," he told The Indian Express.
In the case of Muzaffarnagar, Akhilesh said his biggest worry is that small incidents of crime are turning into riotous situations. "These incidents used to happen even earlier but they were just treated as crimes. Nowadays, they get communalised because of political forces. This is the main problem," he said.
The distilled version in Lucknow about the Muzaffarnagar incident is that it all started with an alleged incident of eve-teasing, followed by members of the Jat community targeting the Muslim youth which led to killing and then a counter-attack.
UP government sources said instructions have been sent to immediately start arresting troublemakers and miscreants on either side of the communal divide, regardless of their affiliations. "Tonight is very critical. We hope to make significant arrests now," they said.
Akhilesh lays much of the blame on the BJP, which, he says, is trying to woo Jat votes in the western region of the state. "These districts are all tense and sensitive these days because BJP is very aggressive. It is trying to exploit every little situation to give it a communal colour. Even the BSP is doing the same thing," he said.
But he is unable to explain why a strong message has not been sent, despite some 27 incidents of communal riots since he assumed office. These figures are possibly higher now as allegations grow against the SP's own workers and supporters.