Amnesty International’s India chapter on Thursday accused the Uttar Pradesh government of failing to conduct timely investigations and penalise the accused who gangraped women during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots. In a report, titled Losing Faith: The Muzaffarnagar gangrape survivors’ struggle for justice, the organisation demanded speedy inquiries and trials along with legal assistance for the victims, among other recommendations.

The NGO insisted that the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government provide appropriate rehabilitation, compensation and other forms of relief to those affected by the violence. The report urged the Centre to frame a strong law that deters and addresses incidents of communal violence in accordance with international human rights principles.

Amnesty also recommended establishing a proper victim and witness protection programme at the central and state levels, in addition to police reforms to ensure no political interference in the department.

With the state Assembly elections around the corner, human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover said, “This is the most appropriate time to release the report because we are not here to listen to empty slogans by political parties. This is the time that they act speedily to give women their rights,” PTI reported.

Speaking at an event at which the report was released, she said, “The state machinery is not working in favour of women victims. There was a deliberate design to not allow these cases to move forward.”

In September 2013, 60 people were killed and thousands of Muslim families were displaced during communal riots in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday told members of the Lok Sabha that there had been been a rise in incidents of communal violence in Uttar Pradesh in 2016 as compared to 2015.

The seven-phase elections for the 403-seat Assembly in Uttar Pradesh will be held between February 11 and March 8. The votes will be counted on March 11.