Lucknow: The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is considering the possibility of withdrawing cases against senior BJP leaders who were accused of making provocative speeches and inciting riots in Muzaffarnagar in 2013, in which 60 people were killed. The state government has written a letter to district officials in Muzaffarnagar, asking them for a detailed report on the status of cases against BJP leaders.
The cases, filed under previous Akhilesh Yadav government, named senior BJP leaders like former Union minister Sanjeev Baliyan , BJP lawmaker Umesh Malik and Suresh Rana, who is a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government, as accused. The lawmakers have been accused of violating prohibitory orders and stopping public servants from doing their duties.
None of the leaders, except sitting BJP lawmaker Umesh Malik, have been named in the letter -- sent to the District Magistrate, the then chief of Muzaffarnagar police and the public prosecutor handling the cases. It mentions the file numbers of their cases. A senior government officer in Muzaffarnagar, Siyaram Mohre, told NDTV: "We have received a letter seeking information about nine cases. We have not received the information yet from the relevant officers but as soon as we get it, we will send it to the ministry in Lucknow".
The letter, seeking "frank opinion" of officials, was sent on January 5, days before Governor Ram Naik signed off a bill that sought to drop 20,000 cases against politicians. The Chief Minister had said the cases were "not serious" and had been "pending for a very long time". The opposition Samajwadi Party had opposed the bill in the assembly. Its leader Akhilesh Yadav had said, "It remains to be seen if it is going to be just 'inconsequential cases' as the Chief Minister puts it, or will the government also withdraws serious cases".
In Lucknow, senior government officials refused to comment on the letter.
Home Secretary of UP and in-charge of state police, Arvind Kumar, said there is nothing unusual about the letter. "If someone feels a particular case against him is fake and should be withdrawn, his application is forwarded by the state government to the district administration and a reply is sought," Mr Kumar said. He added that after a "very strict procedure", the government may think a case is fit to be withdrawn, "but finally it is the court's call".
Confirming that he has written to the government, Umesh Malik, the sitting lawmaker from Muzaffarnagar, said the cases against him and other BJP leaders were politically motivated. "The police had filed false cases against innocent people. I had written to the government asking for an inquiry into these cases and if found fake, they should be scrapped," said Mr Malik.
Sanjeev Baliyan, who is representing Muzaffarnagar in the Lok Sabha, said: "If cases are withdrawn, first it will be against the hundreds of ordinary and innocent people framed by the police in 2013, this I can assure you."