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Muzaffarnagar riots: Withdrawal of 131 cases by Yogi govt challenged in top court

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Petitioner, a riot victim, has sought transfer of the cases to Delhi or any other place for fair trial.

New Delhi: A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the withdrawal of 131 cases related to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal riots in Uttar Pradesh.

In his plea, Imran, a victim of the riots, has sought the top court’s intervention to direct the Yogi Adityanath government in UP “to desist from its efforts…aimed at browbeating its officers into confirming withdrawal from prosecution as well as appointment of independent prosecutors”.

Imran claims that the withdrawal of cases has benefited some powerful local leaders who have allegedly been using intemperate speeches aimed at fanning communal passions since the time of the riots.

The petitioner has appealed to the apex court, seeking transfer of the cases to Delhi or “another such place where the trial can be held fairly and efficaciously”.

“With the attitude of the state government, grave apprehension is caused as to the likelihood of fair prosecution and thus, the situs (place) of these cases can also be changed to other suitable places such as Delhi, for the successful prosecution of these cases,” the plea reads.

At least 60 people were killed, hundreds injured and more than 50,000 displaced, in the communal riots that shook Muzaffarnagar in August-September 2013.

Leaders such as former union minister Sanjeev Balyan and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Sadhvi Prachi, BJP MLA Umesh Malik, and BJP MPs Suresh Rana and Bhartendu Singh were accused of inciting the masses and disturbing communal harmony during the riots.

In the aftermath of the riots, more than 500 cases were lodged against 1,450 people at different police stations in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli.  However, earlier this year, the state law department had sent two letters to district magistrates of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli seeking their opinion on the possibility of withdrawing the cases.

Shortly thereafter, chief minister Yogi Adityanath had issued directions to initiate the process of withdrawing around 131 cases against Hindus and the BJP leaders.

Adityanath’s decision came after a high-level khap panchayat delegation, led by Balyan, had made a representation to the state government seeking withdrawal of the cases.

Only last month, a trial court in Muzaffarnagar had issued non-bailable warrants against Balyan, Sadhvi Prachi, Malik and two others for their failure to appear in court in connection with the riots case.

Reports suggest even after five years and more than 50 hearings, the court has not been able to frame charges against the accused.

The charges cannot be framed since it is imperative for the accused to be present in court. However, none of the 13 accused in this matter have come together at once, thereby delaying the judicial process.

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  1. These were politically motivated FIRs by SP. The riots were the outcome of molesting of a Hindu Jat girl and lynching of her two cousins by Muslims. As many Hindus were killed as were Muslims.

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