Muzaffarnagar: The Uttar Pradesh police today arrested two more legislators accused of inciting the Hindu-Muslim tension that left nearly 50 people dead and 40,000 homeless in Muzaffarnagar earlier this month. So far, three MLAs have been arrested for their alleged role in inciting the violence in this part of western UP. BJP president Rajnath Singh, who was not allowed to visit the riot-hit western UP town today, has demanded that President's Rule be imposed in the state.
Here are the latest developments in the story:
- The two MLAs who were arrested today include BJP's Sangeet Som and BSP's Noor Salim Rana. Mr Som was arrested shortly after he surrendered at his constituency in Meerut amid slogan-shouting by his supporters. Noor Salim, who is the brother of BSP MP Kader Rana, was arrested from Muzaffarnagar.
- Both Sangeet Som and Noor Salim were produced before a court which sent them to 14-day judicial custody. Both the legislators arrived in court in their luxury cars and not police jeeps, despite being in police custody.
- Sangeet Som is accused of circulating a fake video that escalated the unrest that resulted in the communal riots. The controversial video claimed to show the lynching of two Hindu Jat boys; the footage was actually two years old and from Pakistan, the police have said.
- Before surrendering today, he once again rejected the allegations against him and said, "I did not upload the video. My office boys shared it. I came to know and removed it in five minutes." He also accused the chief minister "playing partisan politics."
- Today's arrests came a day after the Uttar Pradesh police took into custody BJP MLA Suresh Rana on charges of making provocative speeches at a public meeting in the days before the riots tore through Muzaffarnagar. (First politician arrested for Muzaffarnagar riots is BJP's Suresh Rana)
- Mr Rana has also denied the charges and has dared the UP government to produce evidence against him.
- Apart from these three MLAs, there are several other politicians, including those from the Congress, who have been slapped with the same charges. Arrest warrants were issued against them on Wednesday.
- Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has been slammed by both the Congress and the BJP for his alleged inaction in preventing the riots. Talking to NDTV today, the chief minister rejected the charges. He also said that he had got no specific warning from the Centre on tension in Muzaffarnagar. Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had earlier said that he had warned the UP government in advance. (Watch interview here)
- Congress' Jairam Ramesh has called the riots a blot on the chief minister's career. "He (Akhilesh) cannot run away from his responsibility. People wanted him to do something for the state, but it is unfortunate that after the Muzaffarnagar violence they cannot take him seriously." (BJP, Samajwadi Party have begun poll preparations from Muzaffarnagar: Jairam Ramesh)
- In protest against the arrest of its leaders, the BJP has called for a bandh in western Uttar Pradesh on Monday. (Rajnath denied permission to visit Muzaffarnagar)