2013 Muzaffarnagar riots: Over 1,100 acquitted, just seven convicted
(Sourced from PTI)
Eight years since the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 in Uttar Pradesh, 1,117 people accused in 97 cases related to murder, rape, robbery, and arson among others connected to the violence have been acquitted over lack of evidence. Seven people were convicted in a single case related to the murder of two youths, Sachin and Gaurav, in Kawal village in the district.
This, together with the stabbing to death of another person, Shahnawaz, on August 27, 2013, by six people, had triggered the riots, according to the police. A special investigation team (SIT) was set up by the Uttar Pradesh government to look into the riots cases. According to SIT officials, police had registered 510 cases against 1,480 people and filed charge sheets in 175 cases.
According to some reports, the cause of the riots was the alleged stalking and harassment of a 17-year-old girl in Muzaffarnagar by a Muslim boy. The boy was beaten to death by the girl's brothers which led to riots.
"The prosecution has not filed an appeal in any of these cases," an official of the SIT said. The seven people convicted in the Kawal village double-murder case were sentenced to life imprisonment. The SIT could not be file charge sheets in 20 cases under Sections 153A and 295A of the IPC since it did not get permission for prosecution from the state government.
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to withdraw 77 cases related to the riots. However, the court has given permission for withdrawal in just one case which is against 12 BJP leaders, including Uttar Pradesh minister Suresh Rana, BJP MLA Sangit Som, former BJP MP Bhartendu Singh, and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Sadhvi Prachi.
The SIT officials said 264 accused in the riots cases were facing trial at present. Over 60 people were killed and more than 40,000 were displaced during the riots. Notably, the Muzaffarnagar riots were described as the "worst violence in Uttar Pradesh in recent history."
While hearing petitions relating to the riots, the SC had earlier held the then Akhilesh Yadav-led government guilty of negligence in preventing the violence. A committee headed by Retd. Justice Vishnu Sahay was designated to look into the causes of the riots. In its 775-page report, the committee blamed Samajwadi Party and BJP for their hand in the communal clashes between both communities.