Lucknow: BJP leader Uma Bharti on Wednesday warned of "more tension" in Uttar Pradesh if politicians from her party are arrested for instigating the riots that tore through Muzaffarnagar earlier this month, leaving nearly 50 people dead and forcing 40,000 people into refugee camps.
"Our MLAs (state legislators) will not oppose their arrest, but the government is responsible for what will follow. I am warning them," she said, in comments directed to the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP). "If any MLAs are arrested, it means they (SP) want to restart the riots... and this time, they want to target one particular community and one party."
She issued her threat outside the state assembly in Lucknow while flanking her party's Sangeet Som, one of the politicians against whom a warrant has been issued by a local court. Party workers encircled Mr Som, forcing the police that had arrived to arrest him to turn away.
Mr Som has admitted that his office circulated a fake video that claimed to show the lynching of two Hindu Jat boys; he said that the video had been uploaded by the ruling Samajwadi Party originally.
The police says the footage is two years old and from Pakistan, and inflamed the tension that resulted in the worst communal riots in the state in over a decade.
Later in the evening, Uma Bharti wrote a letter to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in which she alleged that BJP MLAs and workers and people from a particular community were being targeted by the state government. "I am concerned that state government's irresponsible actions can lead to opposite effect on maintaining peace in the state," she said in the letter. (Read letter here)
The group of politicians accused of delivering incendiary speeches at different meetings in Muzaffarnagar include Sangeet Som and Bhartendra Singh of the BJP; Kadir Rana, Noor Saleem and Maulana Jameel of the BSP; and Congress leader Saeeduzaman.
The riots have triggered speculation that parties are seeking to polarise the politically pivotal state along religious lines ahead of general elections due next year.
The Samajwadi Party has accused the BJP of inciting violence; the BJP denies that and says the government has enforced policies that protect and serve only minority voters.