muzaffarnagar, uttar pradesh
Indian army vehicles in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar PradeshReuters

The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) party on Thursday took a swipe at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) by comparing the communal violence in Muzaffarnagar to the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Communal tensions erupted in the riot-hit Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh on 27 August, when two men killed one Shahnawaz over a petty quarrel. Both men, reportedly belonging to the Jat community were later lynched to death by angry villagers in Kawaal, Muzafarnagar.

Violence escalated due to police inaction to maintain law and order, coupled with inflammatory speeches against both communities on 29, 31 August and 7 September.

Referring to the 2002 riots in Gujarat, the RLD made a jibe at both BJP and SP on Thursday. "Mulayam Singh Yadav is trying to make everything a Hindu-Muslim issue. He is trying to be UP's (Narendra) Modi," RLD President Ajit Singh told ANI news. He compared the current situation in the western district of UP to the 2002 riots, in which 1,180 people were killed.

A series of deaths were reported in the villages of Muzaffarnagar district on 8 September. While the Opposition and SP government charged at each other, the death toll climbed to 38 on Tuesday. According to Indian Express, the death toll is likely to reach the 50 mark despite curfew in the UP district.

Around 10, 000 people have been displaced from their homes due to the communal violence, which was forewarned by Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was quick to point out a political conspiracy to destabilise his government, but his administration is being held liable for failing to control the violence at its nascent stage by the Centre.

So far, nearly 140 people have been arrested and more than a 1,000 stand accused. Six politicians, four of whom belong to BJP, are also accused of inciting communal disharmony.

Curfew was relaxed for five hours on Wednesday in Muzaffarnagar but a fresh bout of communal clashes erupted in Baghpat, leaving a constable injured. The government has again decided to relax curfew in Muzaffarnagar from 10 am till 5pm on Thursday.