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UP Govt. Proposes Withdrawal Of Muzaffarnagar Riot Cases Against Hindus; Opposed By DMs

After BJP president Amit Shah started guiding BJP activities in UP in 2013, the state reportedly witnessed sustained campaign of communalisation
Sangeet Som

Ahead of 2019 elections, the BJP led Uttar Pradesh government faced a major setback as its proposal to withdraw 133 cases related to Muzaffarnagar riots in September 2013, all naming Hindus as accused, has been rejected by the district administration of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. It has been reported that the District Magistrate (DM), Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and the Prosecuting Officer (PO) of both the districts, in their separate replies, said that they were not in favour to withdraw cases citing “administrative concerns”. 

However, the BJP MP from Muzaffarnagar,Sanjeev Balyan claimed that the final decision on the withdrawal of the cases will be taken by the government. Responding to the DMsdecision, Balyan toldThe Indian Express: “I want the cases tobe withdrawn. Request was made to withdraw fake cases of arson lodged by police.” Balyan is one of the accused in the cases which were proposed for withdrawal. 

Others among the accused in these cases are BJP MLAs,Suresh Rana and Sangeet Singh Som,and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Sadhvi Prachi. Of these 133 cases, 89 are pending in courts and the remaining cases havesupposedly either resulted in acquittals or closure reports. The pending cases include those related to hate speech, murder, attempt to murder, arson,and looting.

The state government initiated the process for withdrawal of selected cases after a delegation of khap leaders led by Balyan and another BJP leader,Umesh Malik,visited chief minister Yogi Adityanath with a list of 179 riot cases in which all the accused were Hindus.

When the BJP government came out with such a proposal, numerous political commentators and opposition parties had criticized that the move wasmeantto appease certain communities,mainly upper caste Hindus,and to subvert justice in the riots in which 64 people including 44 Muslims and 20 Hindus (reportedly most of them belonged to the Jat community) were killed and nearly one lakh people were displaced. 

According to a fact-finding report conducted by independent researchers who visited Muzaffarnagar in November 2013, the police had registered 540 FIRs (first information reports) in riot-related incidents, against approximately 6000 people. The report highlighted an important distinction between Muslim and Jat deaths. It found that while the attacks and deaths of Muslims had taken place as a result ofasustained campaign by upper caste Hindus;“almost all the Jats who were killed were those who had participated in the Mahapanchayat at Nangla Mandaur village on September 7th. There were accounts of the Jats, in tractor trolleys from different villages that went to take part in the Mahapanchayat, raising provocative slogans as they passed by Muslim habitations.” The report further pointed out that Uttar Pradesh witnessed “a sustained campaign at communalisation” after BJP president Amit Shahtook over the reins of BJP in the state.

Currently, a Special Investigation Team appointed by the then Samajwadi Party government has been investigating these cases. Interestingly in 2014, Akilesh Yadav, former chief minister of the state had also proposedtheMuzaffarnagar DM to withdraw specific cases against Muslim leaders who were accused in the riots. However, the request was denounced.

In 2013, similar incidents of communal violence took place in Kishtwar in Jammu and Kashmir, Masuri and Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, Indore and Harda in Madhya Pradesh, Bettiah and Nawada in Bihar and Rangpur in Cachar district of Assam.

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