Lucknow: Around 70 Muslim families have reportedly left Khailam village in UP’s Bareilly district after the police issued them ‘red cards’ and warned against creating trouble for Kanwariyas who passed through the Muslim-dominated area, on Thursday.
Along with the red cards, around 250 families, both Muslim and Hindu, were also asked to sign a ‘symbolic bond’ of Rs 5 lakh.
According to a report in the Indian Express, this is what the red cards read: “We have secret information that during the Kanwar yatra you might create trouble…with this red card we are informing you that if you create any trouble during the Kanwar yatra, action will be taken against you. You will be held accountable.”
Unlike last year, the Kanwar Yatra to a local Shiva temple passed off peacefully on Thursday, but the police warning to locals seems to have stirred a controversy in its wake.
Aliganj SHO Vishal Pratap Singh, however, said the ‘red cards’ were a “preventive” measure to ensure peace during the Kanwar Yatra. “Thankfully, no unwanted incident was reported this time,” he said.
Clashes had erupted during the yatra last year when Kanwarias passed through the village, leaving dozens of locals and 15 security men injured. Locals, however, accuse “outsiders” of inciting trouble last year.
“The people of this village have always been peaceful. Last year, it was some outsiders who created law and order situation. Police booked around 250 people mostly Muslims for clashes. Most of the people booked were not even present in the village when the clashes occurred. May be thats why this time, the people decided to leave the village before they were booked for nothing by the police,” a shopkeeper said on condition of anonymity.
According to Senior Superintendent of Police Muniraj G, “The ‘red card’ is not legally valid. Most of the people from both communities who were asked to sign a bond were issued red cards just to let them know that they are under surveillance.”
Asked about Muslim families leaving the village in panic, Aonla SDM Vishu Raja said, “We cannot stop someone if they want to leave with their family. However, we have repeatedly assured all villagers that the administration will take care of their safety.”
SP (crime) RK Bhartiya, however, said the families are expected back once the Kanwar yatra is over. “People from a certain community leaving the village is a matter of concern. However, we believe they will start coming back after Kanwar Yatra is over. We have deployed heavy force at the village for next few days in order to maintain peace.”