By Muslim Mirror Special Correspondent
Lucknow: After the Yogi Adityanath government wrote to Muzaffarnagar district magistrate (DM) and the senior superintendent of police (SSP) seeking their opinion on withdrawal of cases against BJP leaders who were booked for allegedly provoking violence during the 2013 communal riots in the western region of the state, now the Jat community has also demanded that the cases slapped against its youth must be withdrawn as well.
Several khaps (group of elders) of the community met on Monday in the sugar belt and put forward the demand Khap hours after former Union Minister and Muzaffarnagar MP Sanjeev Baliyan – who was also booked for allegedly provoking the mob to commit violence against Muslims, claimed that it was on his request that the Yogi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government planned to withdraw riot cases against the saffron party leaders.
On Sunday, Baliyan told the media, “The then Samajwadi Party in 2013 booked many innocent people during the riots. That is why I had written a letter to the State law minister Brijesh Pathak saying that all these cases were fake. I requested that if the fresh investigation reveals trumped up charges then all these cases should be withdrawn.”
As the news spread that the government has sought opinion from the district administration regarding scrapping of cases filed against the BJP leaders, various khap panchayats of Jats convened a meeting in which they demanded that the government must also withdraw cases slapped on many Jat youths for murder, rape and violence.
The Khap meeting was attended by several politically influential people, including Naresh Tikait – chief of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) and head of the Baliyan Khap. The Khaps also threatened that they would organise a historically strong and unprecedented Mahapanchayat (public meeting) if their demand was not met.
“The riots were orchestrated to mobilise and communally polarise votes. The announcement that the Yogi government would withdraw riot cases against its party leaders shows the double standards of the present government. Our demand is that if the government plans to rescue its party leaders, then hundreds of Jat youths who are in jail, must also get that relief. We would wage an anti-government movement if our demand is not met,” said Tikait.
Jats and Muslims had clashed in Muzaffarnagar in August-September 2013, resulting in at least 62 deaths (42 Muslims and 20 Hindus) and 93 injured. Over 50,000 people were displaced in the communal violence.
The riot has been described as the “worst violence in Uttar Pradesh in recent history”, with the Army, as a result, being deployed in the state for the first time in last 20 years. The Supreme Court while hearing petitions related to the riots held the then Samajwadi Party government led by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav prima facie guilty of negligence in preventing the violence and ordered it to immediately arrest all those accused irrespective of their political affiliation.
The top court also blamed the then Dr Manmohan Singh government in the Centre for its failure to provide intelligence inputs to the Samajwadi Party-governed state government in time to help sound alerts.
Clashes between two communities – Jats and Muslims – in Shamli and Muzaffarnagar grew on August 27, 2013. A minor traffic accident followed by an alleged eve-teasing incident at Kawal village in Muzaffarnagar took religious overtone and resulted into large-scale violence.
A girl from the Jat community at Malakpura village, near Kawal, was allegedly harassed in an eve-teasing incident by one Muslim youth Shahnawaz Qureshi in Kawal. In retaliation, the girl’s relatives Hindu relatives, Sachin Singh and Gaurav Singh, killed the Muslim youth. The two were lynched by a Muslim mob when they tried to escape.
Interestingly, the communally sensitive issue of eve-teasing of a Hindu girl by a Muslim boy was spread to fan communal tension, but the FIR filed from both sides at Sikheda police station had no mention of the sexual harassment. The girl allegedly harassed by Shahnawaz in fact said that she had not gone to Kawal or known anybody by name of Shahnawaz.
The killing of the three youth started echoing across the district. On August 30, two days after the incident, local Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Congress leaders had hijacked a Muslim meeting demanding justice for the Kawal incident. Also, local BJP leaders gave an incendiary speech instigating the Jats gathered at Nangla Mandore on August 31. After the two meetings, the riots broke out and people were killed, injured and displaced.