The Yogi Adityanath government has initiated the process of withdrawal of 131 cases in connection to the Muzaffarnagar and Shamli riots of 2013.
Among the cases 13 are of murder and 11 are of attempt to murder. There are 16 cases on charges of promoting enmity on religious grounds and two for deliberate and malicious acts intended to insult a religion or religious beliefs.
The riots claimed the lives of more than 60 persons and left 50000 homeless. The ruling Samajwadi Party government of the time had registered 503 cases against 1,455 persons at various police stations in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli.
According to The Indian Express, BJP MP Sanjiv Balyan and the party’s Budhana MLA Umesh Malik met the Yogi Adityanath along with other khap leaders from Muzaffarnagar and Shamli on 5 February and presented a list of cases they wanted withdrawn. What is noteworthy is that all of the accused in the cases are Hindus.
The UP government reportedly sent letters to the district magistrates of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli seeking details of the cases on 23 February seeking their opinion on the withdrawal of the cases. The letters, signed by special secretary Rajesh Singh, were forwarded by the DMs to the SP and prosecuting officers for their opinion.
But Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar told The Indian Express that he has no knowledge about the withdrawal. He said that the matter falls under the ambit of the Law Department.
Balyan claimed that the list he handed over to the CM did not contain cases related to murder. Balyan’s claim was however contradicted by Malik.
Among the cases are 85 under Section 436 which is deals with mischief by fire or explosives, 55 are for dacoity under Section 395 and two are under Section 364 related to kidnapping.
The cases were filed against Balyan, Malik, UP minister Suresh Rana, MP Bhartendu Singh and party leader Sadhvi Prachi.
Opposition leaders slammed the move.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal took to Twitter to condemn the reported decision.
“State to protect murderers not victims of violence . That is the message in Yogi’s decision to withdraw 131 riot cases . Wither rule of law?” he asked.
State to protect murderers not victims of violence . That is the message in Yogi’s decision to withdraw 131 riot cases . Wither rule of law?
— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) March 22, 2018
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, too, termed the move “Hindutva appeasement”.
“This is called Hindutva Appeasement,rule of Law is thrown aside & rule by religion ,@CMOfficeUP wants to save all BJP legislators who are accused b4 Special courts r formed & to reward all the accused ,remember 50,000 people where uprooted & made refugees, [sic]” he wrote on Twitter.