A court in western Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar has accepted a 2017 closure report filed by a UP Police Special Investigation Team (SIT) team against BJP MLA Sangeet Som, known for making controversial comments, in a case over an inflammatory video uploaded on social media ahead of the 2013 communal riots. More than 60 people were killed and 40,000 were displaced during the riots in Muzaffarnagar and neighbouring areas in 2013.
While the closure report before the court was filed about four years ago, the two-page court order accepting it notes a striking coincidence - the complainant in the case, Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh, died without being able to make an appearance in the court.
In 2018, the policeman, posted in neighboring Bulandshahr, was attacked by a mob when he went to restore calm in an area after violence erupted over rumour of illegal cow slaughter. The police said a man armed with an axe chopped off two of his fingers and hit the cop on the head. Others shot him. His body was found inside his official police vehicle, abandoned in a field.
In its order accepting the closure report, the judge notes: "After the closure report was filed, the court registered it and issued a notice to the complainant, Subodh Kumar Singh, but despite sending repeated notices, he did not present himself before the court."
The court then noted, it was informed, Mr. Singh had died during riots in the Bulandshahr district.
BJP's Sangeet Som is an MLA from Muzaffarnagar's Sardhana assembly constituency. Reacting to the UP court's decision, Mr Som told reporters: "I have said it time and again, even when they sent me to jail, that an impartial enquiry will bring out the truth. This is a fraud case, both the public and God will teach them a lesson. This is what has happened. They even formed a SIT, it was the Samajwai Party government that did it, and the same SIT filed a final or closure report in court that they found no proof against me."
The UP Police had filed a case under sections 420 (cheating), 153a (promoting enmity between groups) and 120b (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 66 of the Information and Technology (IT) Act against Sangeet Som and about 200 others; they had liked a video, uploaded on Facebook, on September 2, 2013.
The accused had been charged for circulating a clip linked to the murder of two youths, triggering communal tension in the district.
During investigation, it was found that the video was old and had either been shot in Afghanistan or Pakistan, the prosecution said.
In December, the state government decided to withdraw cases against several BJP leaders filed over the Muzaffarnagar riots.
The list includes three BJP MLAs -- Sangeet Som, Suresh Rana, and Kapil Dev Aggarwal. Right-wing leader Sadhvi Prachi is also on the list. In these cases, filed under previous Akhilesh Yadav government, the leaders are accused of inciting people through provocative speeches, not following instructions issued as precautionary measures and stopping public servants from doing their duty.