The Supreme Court on Wednesday indicted the Akhilesh Yadav-led government in Uttar Pradesh for failing to prevent communal riots in Muzaffarnagar but refused to order a CBI or SIT probe into the riot cases.
“We prima facie hold the state government responsible for being negligent in the initial stage and not anticipating the communal violence and for not taking necessary steps for its prevention,” said a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam.
It, however, rejected a CBI probe into the matter. “The court expressed confidence in the probe into the riots cases by the state police and rejected demands for a CBI probe,” said state additional advocate general Gaurav Bhatia.
The riots, which broke out in September last year, claimed 40 lives and left 51,000 homeless.
The indictment comes as a major blow to the Samajwadi Party (SP) ahead of the national elections with opposition parties such as the BSP and the BJP demanding that the SP government and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav resign immediately.
The BJP also took a pot shot at the “silence” of the “self-appointed guardians of secularism” on the verdict and wondered why they had one standard for Gujarat and another for other states.
The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), a force in western UP, also blamed the SP and said the riots were a result of a political conspiracy by the Akhilesh Yadav-led government.
The SC said the violence happened due to intelligence-sharing failure between the Centre and state and ordered that all those accused in the riot cases, irrespective of status, should be arrested within two months and bail should be denied to such persons.
It also directed the state to pay R15 lakh as compensation to the families of those killed in the riots. And set a four-week deadline for the state to pay R5 lakh to riot victims raped in the relief camps.
The court also ordered that families who lost their children in the violence and due to the cold in the relief camps be compensated.