Lucknow/Muzaffarnagar: Azam Khan, a senior minister in the Uttar Pradesh government, has refuted charges that he pressured police officials to ignore the violence that erupted in Muzaffarnagar earlier this month which left nearly 50 people dead and drove 40,000 villagers from their homes to makeshift refugee camps.
A private TV channel, Headlines Today, aired footage last night of police officers blaming "political pressure" for their inaction as the Hindu-Muslim riots tore through this part of Western UP. One officer said Mr Khan's instructions were being followed. Two cops who admitted to delayed intervention have been transferred after the alleged expose was aired.
"All my phone numbers including that of my residence and office should be scanned....and if I am found guilty, the channel should tell the punishment for me...I will accept the harshest of punishments, if found guilty....I am not that type of a person," Mr Khan told reporters.
He is in charge of Muzaffarnagar for the ruling Samajwadi Party, which has been accused of ignoring early warning signs of escalating communal tension.
The minister alleged that in the sting operation, the channel's reporter asked leading questions about him and that the footage had been doctored.
"This is not fair. Why is there a beep sound when the reporter is asking a question?" Mr Azam asked.
Mr Khan said that he has never interfered in administrative or police working and would "prefer to die instead of doing something like that".