LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh's dominant political players are locked in a war of words over the communal violence in Saharanpur that has left three people dead and several others injured.
The Congress is blaming the ruling Samajawdi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the violence. The Samajwadi Party has accused the BJP and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of colluding to create unrest. The BJP says the real culprit is the Akhilesh Yadav government.
Union Minister of Small and Media Enterprise Kalraj Mishra fears that the Muslim-Sikh riots may be the handiwork of people backed by Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI.
Three people were killed and many suffered critical injuries as Muslim and Sikh mobs fought pitched battles Saturday on the streets of Saharanpur city, about 170 km from New Delhi, forcing authorities to clamp curfew.
One of the dead in Saharanpur has now been identified as 18-year-old Sarfaraz, who earned a living as a vendor.
Mishra, an MP from Deoria, accused the government of failing to check rising crime and wanted security agencies to probe why communal violence have become so frequent in Uttar Pradesh in the last two years.
The Samajwadi Party stormed to power in Uttar Pradesh in 2012. But in just two years, the government's sheen has faded due to recurring bouts of violence.
According to most sources, there have been some 200 small and big communal riots in the last two years.
The worst incident of communal bloodshed to hit Uttar Pradesh took place in Muzaffarnagar in September last year when more than 60 people died and thousands fled their homes.
Samajwadi Party leader and minister Mohd Azam Khan has courted controversy by saying that communal tensions in Uttar Pradesh were being stoked by the RSS, the ideological parents of the BJP.
Referring to the RSS headquarters in Nagpur, he said: "A lot of research is under way in Nagpur on how to foment tensions between communities in the state."
Another Uttar Pradesh minister and Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary has accused the BJP of inciting violence to discredit the Akhilesh Yadav government.
He also accused the BJP of colluding with the BSP to create unrest in the sprawling state.
This has been trashed by senior BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya, who says the "sinking ship" of the Samajwadi Party was the reason its leaders were levelling such baseless charges.
"This government has completely failed to maintain law and order in the state and knows it has no future," Maurya, the opposition leader in the state assembly, told IANS.
"So passing the buck and blaming others is all that can be expected of them," he said.
The reference to the "sinking ship" was to the washout the Samajwadi Party suffered in the Lok Sabha election when it won only five of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP bagged a record 71 seats.