Police form dragnet outside UP Assembly to apprehend BJP MLAs but turn mute witness
The Uttar Pradesh Assembly and the BJP headquarters here witnessed high drama on Wednesday following reports that two party MLAs, Sangeet Singh Som and Kunwar Bhartendu Singh, would be arrested by the police for their alleged role in fanning communal violence in Muzaffarnagar. Mr. Som was present in the Assembly.
However, the hour-long drama fizzled out as neither of the MLAs was arrested, but not before former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and Charkhari MLA Uma Bharti pitching for them. Ms. Bharti, who had earlier participated in the House debate on Muzaffarnagar communal violence — her first since becoming an MLA — warned the Akhilesh Yadav government of “dangerous consequences” if her party MLAs were arrested. Accusing the Chief Minister of going back on his words, Ms. Bharti said a proper investigation should be conducted before the MLAs are arrested. She demanded that Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohammad Azam Khan should also be arrested on the same grounds.
Arrest warrants were issued by a local court in Muzaffarnagar against the two BJP MLAs, Bahujan Samaj Party MP from Muzaffarnagar, Qadir Rana, and two BSP MLAs, Noor Saleem Rana and Jameel Ahmed, for delivering inflammatory speeches on August 30 and September 7. They have been named in separate FIRs lodged by the Muzaffarnagar police. Warrants have also been issued against Bharatiya Kisan Union leaders Naresh Tikait and Rakesh Tikait, and former Congress MP Harendra Malik. Mr. Som has also been named in the FIR pertaining to the fake video which was uploaded on Youtube following the Kawal incident of August 27.
No warrant has been issued against the leader of the BJP Legislature Party, Hukum Singh, despite having been named in the FIR related to delivering an alleged inflammatory speech at the Jat mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar on September 7. This was confirmed by the Muzaffarnagar District Magistrate, Kaushal Raj Sharma, who said Mr. Singh’s speech is being examined. The police had laid out a dragnet around the Vidhan Bhawan building ostensibly to arrest the BJP MLAs. Apprehending arrest, the BJP MLAs led by Ms. Bharti trooped out of the Assembly after the conclusion of the day’s proceedings. Raising slogans demanding the dismissal of the Samajwadi Party Government, the MLAs stood at the Vidhan Sabha gate and then coolly walked into the BJP office situated across the road on Ambedkar Marg even as the strong police force stood silently.
The political drama soon ended and no BJP MLA was arrested. The whereabouts of Mr. Som is not known; he is understood to be in the party office though no official conformation was available. Ms. Bharti is scheduled to attend a party function in Varanasi on Thursday, BJP sources said.
Mr. Som, the BJP MLA from Sardhana in Meerut district, was present during the two-and-half-hour long Assembly debate on the Muzaffarnagar violence. Mr. Bhartendu Singh, the BJP MLA from Bijnor, was not present in the House.