Muzaffarnagar: A BJP legislator, who participated in a farmers' gathering on Saturday that allegedly triggered communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, has described "unmanageable crowds" who "only wanted to hear about Narendra Modi and Hindutva".
Hukum Singh told NDTV that the crowds at the 'mahapanchayat' were hijacked by communal forces, who carried swords and other weapons, completely unchecked.
While the BJP attacks the Samajwadi Party government in UP, also meeting the state Governor today to demand that it be sacked, local partymen like Hukum Singh are on the defensive after being accused of fomenting communal tension.
Mr Singh and three other BJP legislators were booked for making incendiary speeches at the farmer meeting. Another party MLA, Sangeet Som, is evading arrest, said the police. He allegedly uploaded a fake video that was one of the triggers of the Muzaffarnagar clashes, which have killed 35 people.
The video, posted on YouTube and other social sites, purportedly showed two men being lynched by a mob in the state. The police say the video is two years old and not even filmed in UP. A senior cop said Mr Som also posted the comment: "See what happened in Kawal."
The comment referred to the killing last month of two Jat brothers who were lynched after they shot a Muslim boy for harassing their sister in the village of Kawal. The farmers' mahapanchayat was called to demand justice for the brothers. An attack on farmers after the meet triggered clashes and spiraled into rioting in several villages.
Hukum Singh has denied making a provocative speech at that meeting. In fact, he says, he barely spoke for a few minutes. "No one was listening to us, I could hardly speak...the crowd was jeering at us...The feeling of every youth in the gathering was that only Modi can save them," he said.
He blamed the administration for allowing people to carry weapons to the gathering, but also said that the violence that followed was spontaneous, and no one could be blamed for it.