The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has moved an application in court for withdrawing the case against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including controversial MLA Sangeet Som, who was accused of making inflammatory speeches during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots in which more than 60 people were killed.
Rajeev Sharma, Government Counsel, Muzaffarnagar, told the Indian Express that the government had moved the case withdrawal application in the court concerned but the matter was still pending.
The accused are BJP MLAs Sangeet Som from Sardhana (Meerut), Suresh Rana from Thana Bhawan (Shamli) and Kapil Dev, who represents the Muzaffarnagar Sadar seat in the Assembly, besides Hindutva leader Sadhvi Prachi.
Forty people, including the accused and former MP Harendra Singh Malik, were charged with delivering provocative speeches against the Muslim community, violating prohibitory orders, holding a mahapanchayat without obtaining permission from the district administration, creating obstruction to deter public servants from performing their duty, and setting a motorcycle on fire.
They were booked under IPC Sections 188 (joining unlawful assembly armed with deadly weapon), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant), 153A (promoting enmity on grounds of religion, etc., and acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage).
The chargesheet was filed by a Special Investigation Team against 14 accused, including the above five.
The riots broke out on September 7, 2013 while people were returning from the mahapanchayat called by the Jat community for deciding the next course of action in the murder of two youths in Kawal village on August 27, 2013.
After the BJP formed the government in UP with Yogi as Chief Minister in 2017, a delegation led by BJP MLAs had met the CM in Lucknow in February 2018 and urged him to withdraw cases against the Hindus accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots. Later, the state government started the process of withdrawing cases related to the riots. In February 2019, the government had recommended withdrawal of 38 criminal cases against a hundred individuals charged in the Muzaffarnagar riots.
Reacting to the withdrawal of the cases against the BJP leaders, former top cop and social activist SR Darapuri called it a “murder of democracy” which, he said, would promote “criminalisation of politics”.
Prominent social activist and lawyer of Uttar Pradesh Mohammed Shoaib also felt that this would destroy the faith of common people in the justice system, and said that if the court wanted, it couldn’t agree to withdraw the case, but, he said, the court generally came under pressure from the government.
“Forget about common people, justice-lover people like us have no faith in the justice system due to such reasons,” he said, adding that “this government is of criminals and goondas. That’s why they are withdrawing cases against the criminals”.