According to BJP, “false charges” of arson, assault and vandalism were slapped against nearly 450 Hindus by the then Samajwadi Party government.

NEW DELHI: Nearly 400 people accused of arson, assault and vandalism during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal riots could be off the hook soon as the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has recommended withdrawal of prosecution in 75 cases lodged against them. The local district authorities are now approaching the courts which will take a final call on these cases.

Already, 41 cases of murder, rape and rioting in Muzaffarnagar have ended in acquittal from the trial courts, with one sole case of murder of two Hindu youths ending in a conviction. The BJP’s MLA from Budhana in Muzaffarnagar, Umesh Malik, told ET that there are 93 other major cases in which “false charges” of arson, assault and vandalism were slapped against nearly 450 Hindus by the then Samajwadi Party government.

“I had made this list a year ago and sent it to our government in Lucknow. The government has ordered withdrawal of 75 such cases while five other cases have ended in acquittal from the court,” said Malik. “There are 13 cases which are still under consideration of the government in Lucknow and I am positive that their withdrawal will also be ordered in the next 10-12 days. Nearly 400-450 people made accused in these cases would benefit. It is up to the court to accept the prosecution withdrawal plea of the government.”

ET has learnt that the orders for withdrawal of the 75 cases in question have been issued in various batches since earlier this year, including on January 10 and March 8 before the Model Code of Conduct for the general election came into effect, and three orders for withdrawing 20 such cases were issued earlier this week.

The BJP won the Muzaffarnagar seat in the Lok Sabha election, with sitting MP Sanjeev Balyan winning a tight contest against Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh. “All these 93 cases in question are 100 per cent false. They are all strange type of cases – like a person himself set his bed or chair afire and accused Hindus of burning down his house, or a pile of garbage lying outside a mosque was intentionally set alight and Hindus were accused of trying to burn down a mosque. You know which government was in power then,” said Malik.

The Samajwadi Party did not offer any comment on the matter when approached by ET – it had dissolved its panel of spokespersons after it was routed in the Lok Sabha polls.

This story first appeared in The Economic Times on July 25, 2019 here.