Six years after the Muzaffarnagar riots, a local court on Wednesday convicted seven people for killing two Hindu youths in Kawal village. The incident is believed to have triggered the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots that left 63 people dead and displaced over 40,000.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Himashu Bhatnagar held Muzammil, Mujassim, Furkan, Nadeem, Janangir, Afzal and Ikbal guilty for killing Gaurav and Sachin on August 27, 2013, and rioting. The quantum of their sentences will be pronounced on Friday.
While there still is a dispute on the exact cause of the riots, it is alleged that a girl from the Jat community was allegedly eve teased by a Muslim youth Shahnawaz Qureshi in Kawal village.
In retaliation, Sachin and Gaurav, relatives of the girl, killed Qureshi on August 27, 2013. The brothers were lynched by a Muslim mob while trying to escape. According to the FIR, the two youths were battered to death by the five of the men.
The riots began a few days later on September 7, when people returning from a mahapanchayat were attacked. The violence later spread to other areas in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining districts.
The court convicted the seven after examining 10 prosecution witnesses and six in their defence. As per figures given by district prosecution counsel Rajiv Sharma, over 6,000 cases were lodged following the 2013 riots and 1,480 accused were arrested for their alleged roles in the riots.
A special investigation team, which probed the cases, had filed charge sheets in 175 cases. Fifty-six of them involving 430 accused resulted in acquittal. Recently, the state government has directed the district administration to file withdrawal applications for 18 such cases in court.
“I have received withdrawal application in 18 cases of Muzaffarnagar riots from the state law department. It will soon be sent to court after examining of records. These cases were lodged under Rioting, Arms Act and dacoity charges. No public representatives are accused in any of them,” the District Government Counsel had said.
In 2016, the Justice Vishnu Sahai inquiry commission set up to probe the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots has blamed intelligence failure and laxity on the part of some top officials for the violence.