In UP, a communal, criminal agenda

In UP, a communal, criminal agenda

The Uttar Pradesh government's move to withdraw 131 cases against over 500 persons accused of heinous crimes committed during the Muzaffarnagar and Shamli riots of 2013 in that state is a blatant act of partisanship and subversion of justice. The riots resulted in the killing of over 60 people, mostly Muslims, destruction of a lot of property and displacement of large numbers of people. They are thought to have been planned and executed with an intent to communally and politically polarise society before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The damage to the social fabric endures, and the wounds have not healed. Many people lost their livelihoods and the local economy was badly hit. Thousands of victims, who were settled in camps, are afraid to go back to their homes and villages. With the government's decision to withdraw the cases en masse, they will lose all hope that justice would finally prevail.

The UP government has said that the cases against the accused were politically motivated. But the truth is that it is the withdrawal that is politically motivated, not the cases. The accused include senior leaders of the BJP, including a former union minister, a state minister and legislators. They have been putting pressure on the government in the matter, as also the party units and the khap panchayats in the area, which had a role the riots. The cases relate to murder, attempt to murder, arson, destruction of property and other offences. There are credible charges that the cases were shoddily investigated and are not being prosecuted well. In two cases of murder, the accused have been acquitted as the charges against them could not be established. Many cases are considered to be flawed because proper care was not taken to collect evidence and were deliberately left to collapse in the court.  

The present move is to withdraw even such cases so that there will not be even a distant chance of conviction in any case. But it will send out the wrong message that anyone can get away with the worst crimes, including murder, if there is political protection. These are not crimes of passion or those committed on the spur of the moment but serious offences which were planned and executed with a heinous purpose. There is no need and reason to withdraw them when the judicial process is on. It is for the courts to decide if they are politically motivated or not, and they should not allow the withdrawals just because the government has made the request. The due process of law should not be allowed to be derailed on partisan considerations.  

 

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