The Uttar Pradesh government moved the Allahabad high court on Tuesday to seek the cancellation of bails to around 50 people accused of inciting violence that killed 59 and left thousands displaced in Muzaffarnagar in September last year.
The move by the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) government came just two days ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in several parts of UP, including riot-hit areas of Muzaffarnagar and Meerut. Three riots accused — Hukum Singh (BJP), Kadir Rana (BSP) and Kunwar Bhartendra (BJP) — are contesting the seats that go to polls on April 10.
Other politicians who were earlier granted bail in the Muzaffarnagar riots cases include Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana of the BJP.
The UP government has demanded the accused be arrested as they could try to disturb peace during the elections in the state. Ten constituencies of western Uttar Pradesh are set to vote on Thursday.
Though a senior government official told HT the step was taken in view of a Supreme Court order, the BJP has dubbed the decision as purely "political." "The apex court had in its March 26 order mentioned among other things that the state government could move court to get the bail of riots accused cancelled if it felt they could be a threat to law and order,” a senior home department official said.
Spokesman of the BJP, Vijay Bahadur Pathak, however, questioned the UP government’s move to demand the cancellation of bails just 48 hours before polling. “Even if the apex court had so desired, the government surely could have acted immediately after the court's March 26 order. Why did it wait till now," Pathak questioned.
More than 566 cases were registered in connection with the riots that affected Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Saharanpur and Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. Of these, 13 cases pertained to crimes against women. More than 650 people, including several politicians, were arrested after the riots.