Tense Meerut erupts, six hurt in clash with police at banned mahapanchayat

ViolenceA security officer takes on a villager during the clash in Khera on Sunday. pTI

Days after the Muzaffarnagar riots, tension returned to the region once again on Sunday as villagers clashed with police forces at the venue of a mahapanchayat that had been banned by the administration in neighbouring Meerut district.

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At least 6 people, including policemen and a woman, were injured in the clash and the police had to lob teargas shells and open fire in the air to control the situation. According to the administration, the Army has been asked to stay alert.

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Officials said a large number of villagers, including several women carrying their children, had gathered in Khera village in Sarghana for the mahapanchayat to protest against the arrest and slapping of National Security Act on local BJP MLA Sangeet Singh Som in connection with the Muzaffarnagar violence.

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Secretary (Home) Kamal Saksena said the mahapanchayat had been called by Som's wife and his brother.

Apart from banning it on Friday, the district administration late Saturday night had also managed to persuade Som to appeal from the Orai jail to his supporters to postpone the mahapanchayat by a week. Following this, the organisers too assured the police and paramilitary forces stationed there that they were not going ahead with their programme. But the message did not apparently reach the 24 villages, dominated by Thakurs, Som's community, as by then people had started gathering at the venue.

By 11 am on Sunday, a huge crowd had gathered at the spot, and the villagers decided to go ahead and hold the mahapanchayat. They reiterated their demands for withdrawal of NSA on Som and immediate release of hundreds of "innocents" arrested for the riots.

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