Cracking down on politicians who have been booked for allegedly inciting communal passion in Muzaffarnagar, the Uttar Pradesh government on Saturday arrested Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Sangeet Som and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Noor Salim Rana. They were sent to jail.
According to sources, BJP legislator Hukum Singh, who faces similar charges, has also been arrested, but reports were yet to be confirmed. BJP legislator Suresh Rana, who is an MLA from the neighbouring Shamli district, which also witnessed communal clashes, was arrested on Friday in Lucknow.
BJP president Rajnath Singh cancelled his scheduled visit to Muzaffarnagar after district authorities refused to give him permission.
While Som surrendered to the police in Meerut, Noor Salim was arrested at Muzaffarnagar.
All these MLAs had been booked by the district police for allegedly delivering provocative speeches. The police also issued warrants against them. They have been booked under Sections 153 A (promoting enmity among groups on basis of religion), 353 (provoking with intent to cause riots) and 435 (damage to property), besides some other sections of the IPC.
Inspector General of Police (law and order) R K Vishwakarma said the matter was under investigation and more arrests could be made.
As many as 16 leaders from various political parties had been booked by the district police for allegedly inciting communal passion. They included legislators from the BJP and the BSP, besides leaders from the Samajwadi Party and the Congress.
Uttar Pradesh Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has said the MLAs booked in cases of provoking riots will not be spared.
At least 50 people were killed and over 100 injured in the communal violence. Around 40,000 people are still living in relief camps after fleeing their homes following the communal violence.
Meanwhile, in New Delhi, the BJP is preparing a report on the Muzaffarnagar clashes. The party has constituted a panel under Hukum Singh to draft the report. “It will be handed over to President Pranab Mukherjee when we meet him on September 24. BJP leaders from UP will also be part of the delegation,” BJP president Rajnath Singh said.
The Uttar Pradesh government denied Rajnath Singh entry to the riot-hit Muzaffarnagar, though leading opposition party leaders said the SP did not object to United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi’s presence in the district. The duo had flown to the riot-hit area with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Rajnath Singh, accusing the SP government of spreading communal riots, told reporters on Sunday: “I wanted to meet the families of the victims and take stock of the situation. But the district administration denied me permission saying that my visit is not possible in the present circumstances.”
“The SP and the BSP want to gain mileage out of the prevailing situation in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha elections,” he alleged.