A Samajwadi Party (SP) team probing last month's communal riots in Saharanpur has accused local MP Raghav Lakhanpal of inciting violence, leading to an angry exchange with the saffron party.
The five-member panel also held the police and local officials responsible — accusing them of being "lax" and failing to quell the clashes — and recommended action against several officers. The committee, led by senior SP leader Shivpal Singh Yadav, submitted its report to chief minister and Akhilesh Yadav, who had set it up.
The July 26 clashes in Saharanpur over construction on a disputed plot of land abutting a local gurdwara had left three people dead and close to 30 injured.
"The report has been submitted by the committee to the chief minister in which a BJP MP has also been named besides laxity of administrative officers," Samajwadi Party's (SP) national general secretary Naresh Agarwal said
"As the role of a BJP MP has also come to the fore, we can say that the party (BJP) has a role in the Saharanpur incident," Agarwal added.
The report also alleged that the administration became active only after the violence broke out.
BJP on Sunday dismissed the UP government panel report on Saharanpur riots which indicted its MP, terming it as "politically motivated" and a "camouflage" by the Akhilesh Yadav dispensation to hide its "failures".
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The party reacted sharply with state spokesperson Vijay Bahadur Pathak calling it a "face-saving tactic of the SP government". Union home minister Rajnath Singh said he would reserve his comment as it was an internal report of the ruling party and not a government probe.
"When there is an administrative failure then how is the BJP responsible for the clashes?" Vijay Bahadur Pathak asked.
Pathak dismissed the report, saying the SP was indulging in a blame-game to take political mileage.
"It is report of the party and not the government. What do you expect from SP which had been blaming the BJP time and again to conceal its own government's failure," Pathak alleged.
Talking to HT over phone, Lakhanpal raised doubts over the timing of the findings. "On Saturday, the election commission declares the dates for bypolls in UP — that include Saharanpur — and the SP releases a report indicting me on Sunday. It's hilarious. Those who were believed to have communalized the atmosphere for poll gains have started playing judge," he said.
Elections to 11 assembly seats vacated by BJP MPs and to the Lok Sabha constituency of Mainpuri vacated by SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav are scheduled for September 13.
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Lakhanpal also hit out at the ruling party for not arresting SP and Congress leaders named in connection with the riots. "It reflects the low-level politics of the SP, which was clearly indulging in appeasement ahead of the bypolls," he said.
The panel reportedly says "both communities suffered heavy losses" in the riots and accuses the "lax bureaucracy" and police, who "didn't tackle rioters well", of not resolving the dispute in time.
"As Ramzan was on, the administration should not have allowed construction at the disputed site or members of either community to assemble," it reads.
The Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also criticised the report with BSP chief Mayawati accusing both the BJP and SP of creating communal tension. "Facts were missing and the report is meaningless. We reject it," she said.
The Congress reminded Prime Minister Narendra Modi of his promise that communalism would not be tolerated, and suggested he take up the issue "strictly" with his party men.
Congress leader Manish Tewari said Samajwadi Party government's "incompetence" and BJP's "communal politics" has led to the situation in UP and demanded that the central government take steps to maintain communal harmony.
"The UP government may say it's the local administration's fault, but the ultimate accountability is of the state government," said Akhilesh Pratap of the Congress.
At a function in Lucknow, Mulayam said the report was with the CM and he was yet to see it.
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(With inputs froms PTI)