BJP MLA Sangeet Som has been booked for violating the poll code after one of his campaign vehicles was allegedly broadcasting a ‘documentary’ that contained clippings from the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, reports said. Som is one of the accused in the riots case and is said to have incited people to violence at the time.
Som has been booked for violating the model code of conduct under section 188 of the IPS (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and section 125 of the Representation of the People Act, the Indian Express reported. Under section 125, anyone in connection with an election who “promotes or attempts to promote on grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language, feelings of enmity or hatred, between different classes shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or both”.
The video showed clippings from clashes in the Kawal village in Muzaffarnagar, where the riots started, and included speeches Som delivered that were seen as communal in nature, reports said. According to the Hindustan Times, the video portrayed him as “the saviour of Hindus”.
The vehicle and the pen drive containing the video was seized by the police on Tuesday. A case was filed against the driver and the person who took permission for the vehicle for violating section 144 of the Criminal Penal Code, the Times of India reported. Meerut district magistrate B. Chandrakala told reporters at the time, “The 21-minute documentary has been found objectionable and communal in nature by the media certification and monitoring committee. A report is being compiled and sent to the Election Commission.”
Som has denied the charges, telling PTI that there was “nothing controversial in the CD and that parts of the video had already been aired on TV news channels”.
Som is not new to controversy over communal issues. The MLA was booked under the National Security Act in connection with the Muzaffarnagar riots and also drew criticism when he referred to the family of Mohammed Akhlaq, who was killed by a mob of ‘cow vigilantes’ as “cow killers”. Visiting the village Bisara, where the incident took place, he said that that the Samajwadi Party was “appeasing Muslims”. He also held a meeting with local residents around the funeral of one of accused, Ravi Sisodia, where communal speeches were allegedly made.