Muzaffaranagar riots: Three more legislators arrested

Lucknow/New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS) Three more legislators, including the BJP legislature party leader in Uttar Pradesh assembly, were arrested Saturday over the communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar district even as opposition parties blamed the ruling Samajwadi Party for the conflagration.

Sangeet Som, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Sardhana, surrendered in Salawa village of Meerut, while Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) lawmaker Noor Saleem Rana was also arrested hours later from Meerut.

BJP legislature party leader Hukum Singh was also arrested at Ghaziabad border Saturday evening.

Meerut police chief Deepak Kumar said security has been beefed up in the entire region following the arrests.

The arrests came after BJP lawmaker Suresh Rana was arrested in Lucknow Friday.

BJP president Rajnath Singh Saturday called off his visit to violence-hit Muzaffarnagar district, and said in Delhi that whenever the Samajwadi Party (SP) comes to power, "a series of communal riots begin in Uttar Pradesh".

Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who was in Lucknow, said the Muzaffarnagar riots were a "big blot" on Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his government, and charged them with not responding to them properly.

A court later sent Som, Saleem Rana, and Rana to 14 days judicial custody when police produced the trio in execution of a non-bailable warrants issued by it earlier.

The 16 political leaders against whom warrants have been issued include BSP MP Qadir Rana, BJP legislator Bhartendu Singh, BSP legislator Maulana Jameel, Congress leader Saeeduzaman and Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) chief Naresh Tikait.

Som was sent to Orai prison, Saleem Rana packed off to the Mirzapur jail and Rana sent to the Banda jail.

Som has been booked on charges of making and distributing a fake CD that showed a man being lynched. Investigations revealed the video was three-years old about an incident in Pakistan. Som is accused of doctoring it and claiming it to be a local one.

He has denied the charges.

Rana, Saleem and Hukum Singh were arrested for allegedly making provocative speeches in the run up to the communal clashes.

The opposition continued to blame the Samajwadi Party.

BJP president Rajnath Singh was quick to blame the Samajwadi Party for the violence in Muzaffarnagar.

"If we see the history of riots, then we can see that whenever the Samajwadi Party (SP) comes to power, a series of communal riots begin in Uttar Pradesh," he said after he was requested by District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma not to come to Muzaffarnagar city.

In a fax letter sent to the BJP president's office, the DM urged him not to pay a visit to the area as it could disturb calm and peace that is prevailing in the area after a string of violent clashes and incidents since Sep 7.

Rajnath Singh accused the Akhilesh Yadav government of arresting innocent people in order to veil their involvement in the act of violence.

"The sting operation by a television channel clearly proves that the people who are present inside the government have a hand in the riots, so why are they only arresting the BJP legislators?" he asked.

Rajnath Singh said the situation in Muzaffarnagar is like during the period of emergency, and said BJP leaders will meet President Pranab Mukherjee Sep 24.

He also said BJP legislators were not in any way involved in inciting violence when communal riots broke out in Muzaffarnagar Sep 7, leaving 48 dead and over 40,000 homeless.

Ramesh said there was hope when Akhilesh Yadav took over as the state chief minister but all those hopes have now been dashed.

"Akhilesh is a friend but I have to say that the riots are a big blot on his government and on his very own administrative acumen," he said.