The UP government told the SC on Wednesday that the state police were unable to arrest those accused of raping and molesting women during the Muzaffarnagar riots as they were being shielded by the villagers, especially women.
The Jat-Muslim riots in August-September last year left over 50 people dead and some 50,000 Muslims in relief camps. A total of 566 criminal cases were registered — including six of rape and molestation of Muslim women, in which only one person has been arrested so far. The court is hearing petitions that accuse the SP government of giving favours to one community and seek a special investigation team to probe the riots.
Defending the police, senior advocate UU Lalit, counsel for the state government, told a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, “When the police go to apprehend (the accused), there is a definite shield. Women of the (predominantly-Jat) villages cordon the area so nobody can enter. The police are pelted with stones.”
“Mahasanghs have said they won’t allow arrests,” he said, adding that the arrests needed to be handled delicately as they could lead to fresh law and order problems in the communally sensitive area. The state government also opposed a CBI probe, arguing that the fact that both communities were asking for it indicated its impartiality.
The argument drew criticism from social activist and advocate Vrinda Grover, who represents the rape victims in the apex court. “What kind of faith can victims put in a government that could not even protect women during the riots and thereafter? The UP government has announced rehabilitation and compensation packages for victims of murder, arson and dacoity but there is none for rape victims,” she said.
Hearing in the case will continue on Thursday.