2013 Muzaffarnagar Riots: Yogi Govt Sought Withdrawal Of 38 Criminal Cases Against More Than 100 Accused
Just weeks after the Yogi Adityanath led-BJP government in Uttar Pradesh directed the Muzaffarnagar district administration to withdraw 18 cases related to the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013. In the new development, the Yogi government now has recommended withdrawing of 38 cases against more than 100 people who are accused of the riots that killed 62 people. SP government under which Muzaffarnagar riots took place in 2013 has filed 131 cases against those involved.
This is the second report that has surfaced claiming that the UP government is pushing the administration to withdraw the criminal cases against the accused in the riots. On January 10, the UP government gave the sanctions to withdraw the cases, and the note was sent on January 29, reports Times Now. The charges are of dacoity, use of inflammable substances, sacrilege and inciting communal violence.
With the new recommendation, the Uttar Pradesh government has also come up with a justification for its action. It said that a number of cases were filed against people who are very poor. It also accused the Special Investigation Team of leaving out those people who are influential and who could have defended themselves in court. The UP government further said that those who were ‘falsely’ booked did not even have the money to afford a lawyer for defending them in court.
The previous 18 cases
According to the reports, last month the UP’s special secretary of law JJ Singh had directed the District Magistrate Rajeev Sharma to withdraw 18 cases. The move had come after the government had sought an opinion of the district administration, nine months ago for the withdrawal of 131 cases related to the Muzaffarnagar riots.
On January 26, Sunday, Rajeev Sharma told the media, “Three days ago, I received withdrawal application in 18 cases of Muzaffarnagar riots from the state law department. It will soon be sent to court after examining records. These cases were lodged under Rioting, Arms Act and dacoity charges. No public representatives are accused in any of them.”
From where it started
In February last year, a delegation of ‘Khap Chaudharis’ led by BJP MP and former Union Minister, Sanjiv Balyan had met the UP CM Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow urging him to withdraw cases lodged against Hindus. “In the meeting with the chief minister in February, I requested him to consider the withdrawal of 179 cases, in which over 850 Hindus were held accused,” reported the Scroll.
Following this, the government wrote to the district administration to sought reports on 131 riots cases related to Muzaffarnagar riots. The government also asked for the opinion of the District Magistrates (DM), Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and government counsel on withdrawing them in “public interest”.
However, in August last year, the district administration had opposed the government’s proposal to withdraw the cases. District magistrates of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and the Prosecuting Officer have rejected the plea by Yogi government to withdraw 133 cases on 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots. At that time of these 133 cases, 89 were pending in court, rest of them had either seen acquittals or sent for closure reports. The district magistrate has quoted “administrative reasons” for the rejection, as reported by Financial Express.
The pending cases are mostly related to hate speech, murder, attempt to murder, dacoity and arson. BJP MP Sanjeev Balyan, BJP MLAs Suresh Rana and Sangeet Singh Som, VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad) leader Sadhvi Prachi are among the accused in the incidents. Sixteen of such cases are registered under section 153 A (Charges of promoting enmity on religious grounds) and 2 cases under section 295 A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), as reported by Indian Express.
Meanwhile, on February 6, Wednesday, the session court in Muzaffarnagar convicted seven accused of the killing of two cousins – Gaurav and Sachin in Kawal town on August 27, 2013 – the incident led to the deadly Muzaffarnagar riots. The quantum of punishment will be pronounced on February 8. Five of the seven accused are in jail while two were granted bail by the Allahabad High Court last year.
“Though my clients have been held guilty and the punishment will be announced on Friday, we will challenge the verdict in the Allahabad HC and will continue to pursue the case till my clients come clean out of the court,” said Naseer Ali, the lawyer for the accused.
2013 Muzaffarnagar riots
During the tenure of Samajwadi Party CM Akhilesh Yadav, Muzaffarnagar witnessed violent riots between Hindus and Muslims in August-September 2013. It resulted in at least 62 deaths, injured 93 and rendered around 50,000 people homeless.
According to The Times of India, Former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, during his tenure, had also sought opinion on withdrawal of riot cases. The cases include charges on BSP MP Qadir Rana and other Muslim leaders. The then district magistrate of Muzaffarnagar, Kaushal Raj Sharma, had told the Times of India, “At best you can say the move can lead to the quashing of FIR.” In this context, it is mention-worthy that the riot has been described as “the worst violence in Uttar Pradesh in recent history”.