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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

Sangeet Som: I don’t understand why the spotlight is on me?

Som is an accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots in which over 60 people died and scores were injured. After a recent review by the union home ministry, Som’s security was downgraded from Z category to Y.

lucknow Updated: Aug 14, 2019 22:56 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
BJP MLA Sangeet Som was booked under the National Security Act (NSA) in September 2013 though NSA charges were subsequently dropped.
BJP MLA Sangeet Som was booked under the National Security Act (NSA) in September 2013 though NSA charges were subsequently dropped. (Dheeraj Dhawan/ Hindustan Times)
         

Sangeet Som, the controversial BJP lawmaker from Sardhana assembly constituency in Meerut, is surprised at the ‘interest’ that news of the state government seeking the Muzaffarnagar administration’s opinion on cases against him has ‘generated’ in the media.

Som is an accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots in which over 60 people died and scores were injured. After a recent review by the union home ministry, Som’s security was downgraded from Z category to Y.

He was booked under the National Security Act (NSA) in September 2013 though NSA charges were subsequently dropped. The Justice Vishnu Sahai Commission named Som among the leaders mainly responsible for the riots during the Samajwadi Party regime.

He spoke to HT on the present controversy surrounding the government’s decision to review the cases against him.

Q: You seem to have a penchant for getting into the news, anyhow. As it appears, the government move follows your request to have the cases against you reviewed?

A: Yes, I did make the request. What’s wrong with that? All the cases against me to-date are political as, otherwise, there are no criminal cases. I have otherwise never even been charged with slapping anyone, let alone instigating a riot! I don’t understand why the spotlight is on me!

Q: But we checked with the Muzaffarnagar district administration and they say that one of the cases on which the government has sought an opinion relates to the 2013 riots?

A: No, sir. It’s not about instigating riots. It’s about delivering a speech in a mahapanchayat, in which I wasn’t present in the first place. Yet, I was named an accused. Please remember that the Samajwadi Party government was in power then and it was the same dispensation that got NSA on me. Yet, it had to be subsequently dropped. I was the only leader against whom SIT (Special Investigation Team) set up by Akhilesh Yadav government was unable to prove anything.

Q: You mean to say the case of the hate speech you allegedly gave and which reportedly contributed to simmering tension in the region was bogus?

A: Yes, 100%.

Q: But if you are innocent why did you write to your party’s government seeking a review of the cases against you?

A: I am a people’s representative. Check the cases against me. Some of them relate to flouting Section 144 that prohibits a gathering or movement of four or more people. I have participated in public movements and, naturally, our political rivals filed frivolous cases against me for which every now and then I have to travel to Prayagraj as the cases are heard there. The cases against me range from taking out a march against exodus of Hindus in Kairana to a march to Bisadha village in Noida despite me agreeing to comply with the administration’s request of following section 144. A case of 2009 is about a staging a sit-in! That’s why my request was to verify the cases against me. I am within my democratic rights to expect that, if found bogus or political, these cases should be dropped.

Q: Are you hopeful that your party’s government would drop the cases against you?

A: It’s not a question of my party’s government dropping charges against me. There is a process which has to be followed. Information is sought on 13 points. The district administration then gives a report accordingly.

First Published: Aug 14, 2019 21:31 IST

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