Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Thana Bhavan, Suresh Rana, became the first MLA to be arrested for his alleged role in fanning communal violence in Muzaffarnagar.

A non-bailable warrant of arrest had been issued against him by a Muzaffarnagar court on Wednesday.

State IG (Law and Order) R.K. Vishwakarma said the MLA was arrested on Friday from the Hazratganj area of Lucknow while he was on his way to Gomtinagar from the BJP office. Mr. Rana’s arrest came soon after the conclusion of the monsoon session of the Assembly.

Arrest warrants have also been issued against two other BJP MLAs, Sangeet Singh Som and Kunwar Bhartendu Singh.

Mr. Vishwakarma told reporters that the action was taken on the basis of the wanted application given by the Muzaffarnagar police.

He said Mr. Rana was booked under Sections 188, 153 (A), 353 and 435 of the IPC and Section seven of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, which is non-bailable.

After his arrest, Mr. Rana was first taken to the Gomtinagar police station and then brought to the State Guest House on Mirabai Marg. He was later produced before a magistrate. A total of 72 persons have been named in the FIRs lodged in connection with the Muzaffarnagar riots.

Non-bailable warrants were issued by a local court in Muzaffarnagar against 16 persons for their alleged role in the communal violence. They include the three BJP MLAs — Sangeet Singh Som, Suresh Rana and Bhartendu Singh — the Bahujan Samaj Party MP from Muzaffarnagar, Qadir Rana; BSP MLAs, Noor Saleem Rana and Jameel Ahmed; former Congress Minister, Saeeduzaman, and the Bharatiya Kisan Union chairman and spokesperson, Naresh Tikait and Rakesh Tikait.

Before his arrest, Mr. Rana had attended the Assembly session. In his clarification on his alleged role in the riots, he claimed he was innocent. He demanded that the compact disc of the Jat mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar be examined and if found guilty, he was willing to be punished.

After the House was adjourned sine die, the legislator was escorted to the BJP office by a handful of fellow MLAs.

Reacting to the MLA’s arrest, the State president of the BJP, Laxmikant Bajpai, slammed the State government for pursuing a ‘Muslim appeasement’ policy. He said none of the Muslim MLAs, or MPs against whom warrants have been issued, were arrested. Mr. Bajpai demanded the Centre’s intervention and said the State government should be dismissed.