Muzaffarnagar riots: Who set mosques and houses on fire? No one

The number of people acquitted so far in the Muzaffarnagar riots is 1,137. After the acquittal, the question remains as to who set the houses and the mosque on fire during the riots in September 2013

Representative image
Representative image

NH Correspondent/Lucknow

On Monday, a lower court in Muzaffarnagar acquitted 20 people due to lack of evidence in connection with a 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots case. They were facing the charges of damaging personal property, setting many houses and mosques of the local area on fire, and raising slogans at Kutbi village in Muzaffarnagar.

This village comes under the Parliamentary constituency of Union Minister of State for Fisheries, animal husbandry, and Dairy, Sanjeev Baliayan.

With this acquittal, the number of people acquitted so far in the Muzaffarnagar riot case is 1,137. After the acquittal, the questions remain as to who set the houses and the mosque on fire during the riots in September 2013.

People familiar with the case said that the Additional District Sessions judge in Muzaffarnagar, Baburam acquitted the people after all witnesses turned hostile. There was no witness to the case and thus the involvement of the people could not be proved, he said.

Special counsel for riots Narendra Sharma said the case was in connection with the violence in Kutbi village during the riots. A special investigation team (SIT) probing the riots cases had filed a charge sheet against the accused under sections 392, 436, 295, 147, 148, and 149 of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly setting ablaze public property including a local mosque during rioting on September 8, 2013.

The western part of Uttar Pradesh singed in a communal fire in 2013 – months before the crucial general elections of 2014 that brought Narendra Modi to the centre stage. The communal riots in which Jats and Muslims fought a pitched battle left over 60 people dead and thousands were rendered homeless.

The then Akhilesh Yadav government registered 510 cases and arrested 1,480 people. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Uttar Pradesh Police had filed charge sheets in 175 cases. Even after seven years of these riots, cases are going on and the lower courts have so far acquitted 1,137 people due to lack of evidence.

Earlier, in 2019 the Yogi Adityanath government had let over 400 people accused of arson, rioting during the Muzaffarnagar riots off the hook as his government recommended withdrawal of prosecution in 75 cases lodged against them.

The BJP’s MLA from Budhana in Muzaffarnagar, Umesh Malik said people are being acquitted in court because in 93 cases false charges of arson, assault, and vandalism were slapped against nearly 450 Hindus by the then Samajwadi Party government.

“I had made this list a year ago and sent it to our government in Lucknow. The government has ordered the withdrawal of 75 such cases while five other cases have ended in acquittal from the court,” said Malik.

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