The BJP on Sunday cancelled a plan here to felicitate 63 party workers arrested in July on charges of clashing with the district administration of Moradabad, which had led to injuries to the district magistrate.
The BJP’s Amroha district unit admitted the event was cancelled an hour before it was to begin, following a call to do so by Uttar Pradesh BJP president Lakshmikant Bajpai.
While he was earlier expected to attend the event, Bajpai insisted the BJP was “never involved in it to begin with”. “This was a privately organised event, and the party had no role to play. However, when we found out that the party at the district level may be getting involved, we asked them to refrain from doing so,” he said.
Senior party leaders of the area added that the party didn’t want “negative publicity”, particularly in light of the recent bypoll setbacks that indicated a rejection of the BJP’s efforts to whip up passions over ‘love jehad’.
The Amroha BJP had announced a plan to felicitate the party workers arrested over the Moradabad clashes, who were released on bail in September. They had been held after a protest on July 4 led by them over the removal of a loudspeaker from a temple in Kanth had turned violent.
At the ceremony, to be held jointly by the BJP along with an “Arya Up-pratinidhi Sabha”, the party workers were to be felicitated for their great service in “social areas”. They were to be given the title ‘Jail Yatri’, and a shawl and memento for “their efforts”, in front of a crowd of at least 500 people.
At the function finally held on Sunday, the BJP workers were absent, and Arya Up-pratinidhi Sabha performed a yagya and awarded teachers and social activists from the area.
BJP Amroha unit chief Girish Tyagi said, “We intended to felicitate the workers as they had spent time in jail for a good cause. But we received a call from the state leadership around 10 am asking us not to be involved in any such ceremony. The party feels that various agencies are investigating and it is not correct to hold a reward ceremony like this before they come out with a decision.”
Tyagi admitted that they didn’t anticipate the cancellation. “Till the time the call came, we thought the state president himself would come to the function,” he said.
Senior district leaders of the BJP said that the party had become wary of the controversy the event was creating. “While the party still wants to go ahead with protecting the rights of the Hindus in the area, this event was seen as unnecessary given the negative publicity when Sangeet Som was felicitated after the Muzaffarnagar riots. Because the party suffered setbacks in the bypolls, it decided to tread cautiously,” a senior leader said.