As it initiates the process to withdraw 131 cases, including 13 of murder, linked to the 2013 communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli in Uttar Pradesh, the state government has also started the process of dropping two other cases of hate speech and criminal charges involving firebrand preacher Sadhvi Prachi, two BJP MPs and three BJP MLAs.
The two cases are related to mahapanchayats held in the Muzaffarnagar before violence gripped the region in 2013. Sadhvi Prachi, BJP MPs Kunwar Bhartendra Singh of Bijnor and Sanjeev Balyan of Muzaffarnagar and BJP MLAs Umesh Malik, Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana allegedly attended the mahapanchayats.
While Balyan was a union minister until September 2017, Rana is a minister in UP government. Malik is the MLA from Budhana in Muzaffarnagar while Rana represents Thana Bhawan seat in Shamli and Som is MLA from Sardhana seat in Meerut.
The two cases were registered at the Sikhera police station after two mahapanchayats were held at an inter college in the Mandor area on August 31, 2013 and September 7, 2013 in connection with the murders of Sachin and Gaurav, who were allegedly lynched after the murder of Shahnawaz in Kawaal village on August 27. The three murders had triggered violence across the district starting September 7, 2013.
On January 17 this year, UP’s law department sent a letter, issued by Special Secretary Rajesh Singh, to the Muzaffarnagar district magistrate seeking details of the cases under 13 points, including the current status. One of the points states: “In connection with the withdrawal of cases, your clear opinion in public interest with reason.”
Sources said the report is yet to be submitted to the law department by the district magistrate as the Muzaffarnagar police have not given an opinion.
Asked whether the information sought by the state government had been submitted, Muzaffarnagar district magistrate Rajeev Sharma said: “It is a long process and needs time to complete.”
In the first case, related to the mahapanchayat on August 31, 2013, there are 14 accused including Sadhvi Prachi, Singh, Balyan, Malik and Rana. The police filed a chargesheet under IPC sections of unlawful assembly armed with deadly weapon, assault or criminal force to deter a public servant, and wrongful restraint.
While the FIR included charges under IPC Section 153-A — promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language — the chargesheet did not include this section as the state government did not give police the mandatory sanction to prosecute. “A local court of Muzaffarnagar has fixed May 5 as next date for framing of charges in the case,” said MLA Umesh Malik, one of the accused.
The other case is connected to a second mahapanchayat held on September 7, 2013, in which 13 are accused including Prachi, Singh, Rana and Som. The chargesheet was filed under IPC sections of assault or criminal force to deter a public servant, wrongful restraintincluding and under Section 153-A.
“For framing of charges against the accused, a local court in Muzaffarnagar has fixed May 29 as the date,” said Sangeet Som’s lawyer Anil Jindal.