Controversial BJP MLA Sangeet Som, accused of making inflammatory speeches during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal riots, threatened in Bisara on Sunday that they were capable of giving a “befitting reply” if “innocents were framed” for lynching of a man over beef rumours.
Accusing the Samajwadi Party government of appeasing the minority community “like it had done two years ago”, and “helping those who had slaughtered a cow”, he told a gathering at a temple on the outskirts of Bisara, “Agar nirdoshon ke khilaf karyawahi ki gayi, to munh-tod jawab hamne pehle bhi diya hai aur abh bhi dena jante hain (If action is taken against innocent, we have given a befitting reply earlier and can do so again). We can give a reply whenever we want.”
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“They (the Akhlaq family) were taken by the Uttar Pradesh government (to Lucknow) in an airplane. How they treated the accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots, they are treating those who have slaughtered a cow the same way,” he said.
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Som claimed that this was why he couldn’t meet Akhlaq’s family in the village, because they had been “taken away in an airplane” by the Uttar Pradesh government.
Earlier, in his address to villagers at the Kirtan Bhawan temple, he said “in our values”, cowdung was used on auspicious occasions. And that “even though a mother loves her child the most”, the first meal prepared in the house is given by the mother “to a cow and not her child”.
While telling the crowd to refrain from taking the law into their hands, the MLA added, “But law or administration should not be under the misunderstanding that innocent boys can be framed… Don’t threaten us with being imprisoned. Earlier too we (served time), we will go in again, there is no problem. But we will never tolerate this kind of torture. Such atrocities will not be tolerated at any cost… You can get around 50,000 people and I will get 50,000. We will send one lakh after the administration, but I will not let anyone harass you.”
He further warned, “If innocent people are framed, we are not the ones who will sit silently. Our blood is not such that suffers torture.”
Attacking the media, Som said, “For the last three days, we have been watching only one news on TV, completely one-sided. The media decides that such (a thing) has happened. We never say such kind of things. There has been a killing, even we know this. The law will take its own course. But names of youth who are 50-100 km away from here are being noted and they are being sent to prison. Women are being harassed.”
The MLA also claimed a special affinity to the village, saying many women from his village were married into Bisara. “I am like your nephew,” he said, “I belong to you. I will not let you suffer.” Therefore, he said, he was making this appeal to them not to break the law. “I have not come here in the capacity of a leader. I am from your house, I am one among you, I am your brother. I have not come here in the capacity of an MLA. I will fold my hands and appeal to you — Do not do anything to take the law into your own hands.”
Alluding to AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi’s visit to the village and his remarks about the incident being pre-planned, Som said, “People from Hyderabad come here, give speeches and leave. They are victims of misunderstanding. They should not think this is Hyderabad, this is Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh mein thok kar jawab diya jaat hai (Uttar Pradesh doesn’t replies in kind).”
Pointing out that police had asked him to ensure that not too many people accompanied him, Som said he had heeded their advice. But while he had the same amount of responsibility as the administration in maintaining peace and order, he said, “The administration should not think that the responsibility is one-sided. Their responsibility is theirs. If they can’t handle it, things will start getting worse everywhere.”
Som faces two FIRs in connection with the September 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, which left 65 dead. He is accused by the Uttar Pradesh Police of uploading the video that allegedly sparked communal tension in the area, and of making inflammatory speeches right before the riots.