The Yogi Adityanath government has moved to withdraw a case against BJP leaders, including three MLAs, who are accused of making inflammatory speeches at a mahapanchayat organised at Nagla Mandor village in Muzaffarnagar in September 2013.
The accused in the case filed at Shikheda police station include Sangeet Som, MLA from Sardhana (Meerut); Suresh Rana, MLA from Thana Bhawan (Shamli); and Kapil Dev, who represents the Muzaffarnagar Sadar seat in the Assembly; apart from Hindutva leader Sadhvi Prachi.
The BJP leaders are also accused of violating prohibitory orders, entering into arguments with the government machinery, and involvement in arson.
Government Counsel, Muzaffarnagar, Rajeev Sharma told The Indian Express that a “withdrawal application [in the case] has been moved in the court concerned, and the matter is still pending”.
On September 7, 2013, the Jat community called a mahapanchayat at an intermediate college at Nagla Mandor village to decide on the next course of action in the murder of two youths at Kawaal village on August 27, 2013.
The youths, Sachin and Gaurav, were lynched by a Muslim mob soon after they had killed a Muslim youth, Shahnawaz Qureshi.
Riots broke out after people returning from the mahapanchayat were attacked. The violence spread to other areas in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining districts. Sixty-five people were killed and around 40,000 were displaced. A total 510 criminal cases were registered and chargesheets were filed in 175. In the rest, police have either filed closure reports or expunged the case.
The case in connection with the mahapanchayat was filed by then station house officer of Shikheda police station, Charan Singh Yadav, on September 7, 2013. Forty people, including Som, Rana, Kapil Dev, Prachi, and former MP Harendra Singh Malik, were accused of giving inflammatory speeches against a 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, as per records.
The accused 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), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage).
The Special Investigation Team formed by the state government filed chargesheets against 14 accused, including Som, Rana, Kapil Dev, Prachi, and Malik.
In February 2018, a delegation of khap chaudharis led by BJP MP Sanjiv Balyan met Chief Minister Adityanath in Lucknow and urged him to withdraw cases against Hindus in connection with the Muzaffarnagar riots.
The state government later began the process of withdrawing cases by seeking details from the Muzaffarnagar and Shamli district administrations under 13 points, including in this case. The government also sought opinion on the withdrawal of cases from the District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police and Senior Prosecuting Officer.
This article first appeared on indianexpress.com