The Uttar Pradesh Police Wednesday charge-sheeted BJP president Amit Shah for allegedly stirring communal passions through a speech in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.
The charge sheet filed against the 49-year-old BJP chief in a Muzaffarnagar court accuses him of seeking votes in the name of religion, caste and community. Shah reportedly delivered the speech on April 4 in Muzaffarnagar, which was rocked by communal violence last year.
“The charge sheet against Amit Shah has been filed by the investigating officer,” deputy superintendent of police Yogendra Singh said. The charges were filed under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 153A, 295A and 505, he said. Under these sections, Shah stands accused of using foul words against a community, trying to disrupt communal harmony, making false statements and spreading rumours.
The sections are non-bailable and Shah will have to present himself before a court, senior criminal lawyer OP Sharma said.
The BJP dismissed the charge sheet as political vendetta by state government, accusing the ruling Samajwadi Party of polarising the electorate ahead of bypolls.
Uttar Pradesh holds by-elections for 11 assembly and one Lok Sabha seats on September 13. Three assembly segments are in communally sensitive areas.
Claiming Shah was yet to formally receive information about the charge sheet, BJP secretary Shrikant Sharma said nine people, including Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, were booked for alleged hate speech. “Why it is that charge sheet has been filed only against the BJP chief? This is political vendetta,” Sharma said. In his alleged speech, Shah had described the Lok Sabha elections as an opportunity to avenge the insult meted out to people by those “who have been ill-treating our mothers and sisters”.
On the Election Commission’s orders, the police had registered a case against him for violating the model code of conduct. The poll panel also prohibited Shah from campaigning in the state. The ban was later lifted.
Credited with the BJP’s sweep of politically vital UP, Shah was appointed party chief in July.
The Congress expressed a “sense of satisfaction” over the charge sheet. “… something which caused a major concern among well-meaning people is being pursued under the law of the land and is going in a satisfactory direction,” Salman Khurshid said.