A special court in Uttar Pradesh has accepted the closure report filed by the state police’s Special Investigation Team team against Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Sangeet Som in the Muzaffarnagar riots case, PTI reported on Tuesday.
The legislator was accused of uploading an inflammatory video on Facebook, which allegedly triggered the communal violence in the district and adjoining areas in 2013. Over 60 people died and around 40,000 were displaced in the violence.
The order was pronounced by Special Judge Ram Sudh Singh on Monday, four years after the Special Investigation Team cleared Som, who is an MLA from Sardhana in Meerut district.
The court, however, noted that the complainant in the case, Inspector Subodh Kumar, died without being able to make an appearance before it. Kumar was killed during a mob violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr in 2018, following rumours of cow slaughter in Mahaw village. A youth had also died in the violence.
“No one has raised any objection against the closure report,” District Government Counsel of Muzaffarnagar Rajeev Sharma told The Indian Express. “The court had issued several notices to complainant sub-inspector Subodh Kumar Singh, but no one turned up.”
Sharma said that a police constable had recently appeared before the court, and informed it that Singh had died. “The constable also produced evidence in support of his claim,” he added. “Following this, Additional District and Sessions Judge Ram Sudh Singh ordered that the closure report be accepted.”
The government official claimed that the court, in its judgment, said scrutiny of the evidence collected by the investigating officers did not reveal enough ground for summoning Som and the other accused.
The Uttar Pradesh Police had registered a case under Sections 420 (cheating), 153a (promoting enmity between groups) and 120b (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 66 of the Information and Technology Act against Som. As many as 200 others persons were also charged under the same sections for liking and circulating the video, which was uploaded by the BJP leader on September 2, 2013.
It was alleged that the clip linked to the murder of two youths, which had set off communal tension in the Muzaffarnagar. However, during investigation, it was found that the video was old and had either been shot in Afghanistan or Pakistan, the prosecution said.
In December, the Adityanath-led government had moved a local court to withdraw cases against three Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including Som, in connection with the riots. The Uttar Pradesh government also sought the pardon of Vishwa Hindu Parishad member and religious preacher Prachi.