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Two years after it requested the state government’s sanction to file chargesheets in 57 cases against 602 accused including leaders from the BJP, Congress and BSP, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the state government itself to investigate the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots is yet to get a nod for the same. On Wednesday, a meeting was held in the home department where SIT officers placed evidence against the accused before a four-member committee. “We are examining the evidence produced by the IOs to take a final decision,” Joint Secretary Chhedi Lal Gupta, who heads the committee, told The Indian Express.
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Those facing charges include BJP MP from Bijnor Kunwar Bhartendra Singh and his party MLAs Suresh Rana and Sangeet Singh Som, former BSP MP Kadir Rana, BSP MLAs Noor Saleem Rana and Maulana Jameel from Muzaffarnagar and Congress leader Saeed-uz-Zama. While Som and Rana are MLAs from Sardhana in Meerut and Thana Bhawan in Shamli respectively, Noor Saleem represents the Charthawal seat and Maulana Jameel represents Meerapur.
The chargesheets are to be filed under IPC sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings by insulting religion or religious beliefs). While the SIT has already filed chargesheets under other IPC sections in these cases, it requires the state government’s nod to do the same under sections 153-A and 295-A. Its application seeking prosecution sanction has been gathering dust since 2014.
The team has regularly been sending reminders to the home department regarding the application, but the department took cognisance only a week ago as the state government formed the committee led by Gupta to decide on the SIT’s application.
Kadir Rana, Noor Saleem Rana, Maulana Jameel and Saeed-uz-Zama are accused of making inflammatory speeches at a panchayat organised at Shaheed Chowk in Muzaffarnagar on August 30, 2013, during a protest over the murder of a youth, Shahnawaz, in Kawal village.
The BJP MLAs and MP were accused of holding two mahapanchayats at Nagla Mandaur village in Muzaffarnagar on August 31 and September 7 before the riots erupted. These mahapanchayats were held to protest the murders of cousins Sachin and Gaurav, who were allegedly lynched soon after the murder of Shahnawaz on August 27, 2013. During meetings held by two community leaders, there were demands of arresting the accused in the murder cases. The SIT has filed a closure report in the murder case of Shahnawaz. Five persons including four relatives of Shahnawaz have been chargesheeted in the murder cases of Sachin and Gaurav.
A few hours after the second mahapanchayat was held at Nagla Mandaur on September 7, riots broke out. Sixty-four people were killed and around 40,000 were displaced. A total of 510 criminal cases were registered and the SIT is yet to complete probes into 8 cases related to the murders of 24 people. The pending cases include investigation into a case where BJP MLA Sangeet Singh Som was accused of allegedly sharing a video that stoked violence in Muzaffarnagar.