Forty people, including the accused and former MP Harendra Singh Malik, were charged with delivering provocative speeches against the Muslim community
Waquar Hasan | Clarion India
NEW DELHI\LUCKNOW – 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 were 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. The case was filed by SHO Charan Sing Yadav at the Shikeda police station 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.
According to The Times of India, those riot cases “deal with charges of dacoity, use of fire and explosive substances, and defiling places of worship and outraging religious feelings…. Another case pertaining to obstruction to work with criminal intent and injury by a man under Section 7 of CrPC will also be withdrawn.”
Apart from these cases, the government also ordered to withdraw cases against the CM Yogi himself, Cabinet Minister Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary, BJP MLA Ritesh Kumar Gupta and others in some other cases.
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”.
“In this way, the criminals can go to the political parties and take shelter there. It encourages the criminals that they can do anything and get away with by joining the ruling party. This is the murder of democracy,” said Darapuri.
He said that this was not just favouritism but also illegal, adding that once a case was in court, it should be allowed to complete the due process of law to prove that one was guilty or innocent.
“This is a violation of due process of law and the equality before the law. Cases are being withdrawn against those who are from the ruling party. What about others? What about the victims against whom cases were filed?. This is totally misuse of power. This is against democracy. The government is shielding its own criminals and prosecuting its opposition,” he said.
He said that this would destroy the faith of people in the justice system. He requested the court to assert its discretionary power and not allow the government to withdraw these cases.
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”.