Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav missed the Saifai mahotsav after Mulayam Singh Yadav dismissed his aides. Picture: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh YadavReuters

The violence-hit Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh, where clashes broke on Saturday between two minority communities, will see a four-hour relaxation of the curfew that was imposed on Sunday, wherein security forces were also given shoot-at-sight orders.

The clash had broken out early on Saturday after some members of the Sikh community reportedly started construction on disputed land. The clashes left 3 people dead and 34 injured.

The relaxation of curfew comes after high tension on Sunday when 38 people were arrested in connection with the clashes. Around 2000 paramilitary personnel were deployed on the ground, while unmanned aerial vehicles were also used to keep a close watch on the situation, NDTV reported.

In the new city area, the curfew has been relaxed from 10 am to 2 pm, while in the old city area it will be relaxed from 3 pm to 7 pm.

The curfew was relaxed mainly to allow people to get their daily essentials, and markets have been asked to remain open during those hours.

What caused the clashes?

The main issue of contention is a disputed land that falls between the Sikhs and Muslims living in the area. While the Sikhs want to build a gurudwara on the land, the Muslims claimed that a mosque was situated there ten years ago, according to NDTV. The case had reportedly reached the local court, which ruled in favour of the Sikhs. While members of the Muslim community had moved the Allahabad High Court against the verdict, they later withdrew the case.

On Friday evening, some members of the Sikh community allegedly began construction on the land, which led to ire in the Muslim community, and clashes broke out. 22 shops were gutted and 15 four-wheelers were torched, Press Trust of India reported.

Political blame-game

The Bharatiya Janata Party has accused the ruling Samajwadi Party of indulging in vote-bank politics and minority appeasement.

"Akhilesh Yadav's government deliberately indulges in disturbing communal harmony in Uttar Pradesh. Mulayam Singh Yadav and his family are dividing the state at a time when the law and order situation is in very bad shape there," PTI quoted Shahnawaz Hussain, BJP's national spokesperson. 

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, however, blamed the BJP for the 'caste-conflicts' in the state, Hindustan Times reported.