The Uttar Pradesh government has started the process of dropping two cases involving religious preacher Prachi, two Bharatiya Janata Party MPs and three party MLAs in connection with the 2013 Muzaffarnagar and Shamli communal riots, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. The state government is already in the process of withdrawing 131 cases, including 24 murder and attempt to murder cases.
The two cases are related to mahapanchayats that were held in Muzaffarnagar before the riots. Prachi, BJP MPs Kunwar Bhartendra Singh and Sanjeev Balyan, and party MLAs Umesh Malik, Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana had reportedly attended the mahapanchayats.
Balyan and Malik, among other leaders, are accused of making provocative speeches at a mahapanchayat on August 31, 2013. Another mahapanchayat was held on September 7, 2013 – the day violence erupted in which 62 people were killed and thousands were left homeless. The two cases were registered at the Sikhera police station.
In the first case, related to the mahapanchayat on August 31, 2013, Prachi, Singh, Balyan, Malik and Rana were among the 14 accused. While the FIR included charges of promoting enmity between different groups, the police chargesheet did not mention it as the state government did not give the mandatory sanction. “A local court in Muzaffarnagar has fixed May 5 as next date for framing of charges in the case,” BJP MLA Malik told The Indian Express.
The other case is connected to the second mahapanchayat. Thirteen people, including Prachi, Singh, Rana and Som, are named accused. “For framing of charges against the accused, a local court in Muzaffarnagar has fixed May 29 as the date,” said Sangeet Som’s lawyer Anil Jindal.
On January 17, the Law Department sent a letter to the Muzaffarnagar district magistrate asking for his opinion on withdrawing the cases. Muzaffarnagar District Magistrate Rajeev Sharma is yet to submit his reply. “It is a long process and needs time to complete,” Sharma told The Indian Express.