Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters led by Uma Bharti prevented the police from arresting the MLAs, against whom a court issued non-bailable warrants for inciting communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, with Bharti warning the Akhilesh Yadav government of more trouble if the arrests were carried out.
Warrants were issued against 16 politicians and community leaders, including BSP MP Qadir Rana, BJP MLAs Sangeet Som and Bhartendu Singh, BSP MLAs Noor Saleem and Maulana Jameel, Congress leader Saeeduzaman and BKU chief Naresh Tikait.
High drama unfolded outside the UP assembly when the police went to arrest the legislators. Bharti and scores of BJP workers, shouting slogans, dramatically moved Som, Hukum Singh and others to the BJP office, while the police watched.
Daring the police to arrest the legislators, Bharti said, "If you arrest without proper investigation then you are biased. If any of our MLAs is arrested and then there is any unrest, it will be the fault of the Akhilesh Yadav government," she said.
The firebrand leader said before arresting the BJP legislators, the government should arrest Samajwadi Party strongman Azam Khan for asking the police to go slow during the riots, as alleged by a TV sting operation.
Senior superintendent of police Praveen Kumar meanwhile said the guilty will be arrested within two days and 10 police teams have been tasked with arresting them.
"Three to four politicians have been arrested so far and the police were collecting more evidence against several others," he said.
A police spokesman said arrest warrants have been issued against a total of 69 people against whom the police had registered cases.
Speaking on the issue in the assembly, however, Yadav blamed the BJP for vitiating the communal atmosphere in the state for gains in the next year's Lok Sabha elections. He said the violence was planned to help "one party gain political mileage".
Communal violence erupted in Muzaffarnagar after two brothers of a girl allegedly killed her stalker Shahnawaz on August 27 in Kawaal village.
A little later, the girl's brothers Gaurav and Sachin were killed. Inflammatory speeches were delivered by politicians of both the communities at two meetings, on August 30 and August 31, which turned violent, claiming 48 lives and displacing thousands of others.