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April 27, 2018
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2013 Muzaffarnagar communal riots: Yogi Adityanath government moves to withdraw 131 casesThe cases to be withdrawn include serious offences of over two dozen cases of murder and attempt to murder, and dozens of other cases of arson, rioting, promoting enmity between groups and dacoity.

The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has initiated the process of withdrawing 131 criminal cases concerning the 2013 Muzaffarnagarcommunal violence in which over 60 persons were killed and over 40,000 displaced.

In a letter dated February 23, Special Secretary in the Uttar Pradesh government Rajesh Singh has asked the district magistrate of Muzaffarnagar to provide the latest details of the cases.

In the 13-point letter, the State government has sought the district magistrate’s “clear opinion along with reasons” regarding the withdrawal of cases in “public interest.”

Along with the letter, the government has also attached copies of the basic details of the 131 cases, with penal code sections invoked in the matter, names of the villages and concerned police stations, but does not name any accused.

The cases to be withdrawn include serious offences of over two dozen cases of murder and attempt to murder, and dozens of other cases of arson, rioting, promoting enmity between groups and dacoity.

The opinion of the district police chief has also been sought along with the latest update of the court cases in the matter.

Former Union Minister and Muzaffarnagar BJP MP Sanjeev Baliyan confirmed that on February 5 he had handed over a list of 179 cases in which 850 Jats were accused, to the Chief Minister. Mr Baliayan led a delegation of 12 Jat leaders to meet Mr. Adityanath.

“I had given the Chief Minister a list of 179 cases in which 850 Hindus were booked in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli during the riots. It was the unanimous request of the delegation to reconsider these cases,” Mr. Baliyan said.

All the cases which are in the process of being withdrawn were filed against “innocent Hindus, were politically motivated and were filed due to discriminatory policies of the Samajwadi Party goverment,” said the BJP leader, himself an accused in the riots.

UP Law Minister Brajesh Pathak said he “cannot specifically comment about these cases” as he was yet to see the files. However, he said the Yogi Adityanath government had initiated a move to withdraw “politically motivated” cases or those filed for political vendetta under previous governments.

“To lessen the burden of over 62 lakh cases pending in the state, the CM decided that politically motivated cases be withdrawn,” Mr. Pathak said.

This is the second letter from the government this year. On January 5, the government had sought the district administration’s opinion asking if nine riot cases involving BJP leaders accused in the communal violence, could be withdrawn in public interest.  Though the letter does not name anybody, the file details of the cases are mentioned. Some of the BJP leaders booked on charges of provoking the riots in 2013 include Mr. Sanjiv Balyan, Bijnor MP Bhartendu Singh, Cane development minister in Yogi Adityanath Cabinet and MLA from Thana Bhawan Suresh Rana, Budhana MLA Umesh Malik and party leader Sadhvi Prachi.

BKU president Rakesh Tikait confirmed that he was part of the delegation which requested the CM to withdraw the cases against “innocent youths.” He said that in January the Yogi government initiated process to withdraw cases against BJP leaders filed against them during the riots. “Our argument was that you can’t differentiate between leaders and ordinary people. Lives of hundreds of youths were destroyed due to these politically motivated cases,” he said.

Muslim activists, however, are of the view that the Yogi Adityanath government was reacting to the possibility of the ongoing peace efforts in the region to politically bring together Muslims and Jats, the two communities divided by the Muzaffarnagar riots.

Many prominent activists had conducted several meetings in the region between Jats and Muslims with some initial concrete results which had given out a hope that the two communities who broke apart during the riots could come together yet again. Many Muslim victims of the riots had promised after these peace meetings to forgive and withdraw the cases they had filed against their Jat neighbours. The sudden move of the Yogi government aims to scuttle the peace process in order to ensure that Jats remain on the side of the BJP, said Ghulam Mohammad Jaula, a very senior former Bharatiya Kisan Union leader who now works among Muslim farmers after he broke apart from Jat leadership of the BKU in the aftermath of the riots.

AIMIM president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi on Twitter accused the BJP government of “Hindutva appeasement” and said it was throwing aside the rule of law to save BJP legislators accused in the violence.