The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday night sounded a state-wide 'red alert' and issued shoot-at-sight orders in Kanpur following unabated communal violence that left six, including a senior government official, dead and 40 injured.
This followed a late night review of the situation by Chief Minister Rajnath Singh, who cut short his trip to Delhi and returned to the state capital. He told media persons, "We are sounding an alert to prevent any backlash in other communally sensitive parts of the state."
He said, "Strict measures will be taken to curb any recurrence of such violence and the guilty, however high and mighty, would not be spared at any cost."
What began as a protest by activists of the Students Islamic Movement of India, Muslim League and Mili Itihat Morcha against the alleged burning of a copy of the Quran in Delhi on Friday afternoon, turned into a communal riot following violence, arson and burning of an effigy of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Initially, three persons were killed in police firing on protestors. The others were killed in pitched battles and prolonged exchange of fire between protestors and the police.
At some point, other people reportedly joined the police in their offensive against the Muslim mobs leading to serious communal tension in the industrial city, which has a history of Hindu-Muslim riots.
According to a senior government spokesperson in Lucknow, "Additional police personnel have been requisitioned from Kanpur's neighbouring districts and indefinite curfew has been imposed in some areas following the outbreak of violence."
Kanpur Superintendent of Police G P Sharma told rediff.com over telephone, "The mobs were found to have used AK-47 assault rifles. The slain additional district magistrate was believed to have received a fatal shot from such a weapon."
He said, "We may soon go in for an intensive search of the areas where the organisations involved in the violence have their base."
Even though he claimed that the situation was currently 'well under control', he admitted 'there was much tension'.
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