Muzaffarnagar Riots: BJP MLA Vikram Saini, 11 Others Convicted, Sentenced to Jail

The MLA and others were taken into custody and later granted bail on furnishing two sureties each of Rs 25,000 for approaching the high court.

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New Delhi: BJP legislator Vikram Saini and 11 others were sentenced on Tuesday to two years imprisonment in a Muzaffarnagar riots case by a special MP/MLA court which convicted them of rioting and other offences and also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 each.

Special Judge Gopal Upadhyay acquitted 15 other accused in the case for lack of evidence.

The BJP MLA and 26 others were facing trial for their alleged role in the violence at Kawal village when a crowd was returning after the cremation of two Jat youths.

The killing of the two youths – Gaurav and Sachin – and one Shahnawaz triggered led to riots in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas in August and September 2013, claiming 60 lives and leaving 40,000 people – many of them Muslims – displaced. Saini was then the pradhan of Kawal village.

Saini, now the BJP MLA from Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh, said that he will file an appeal against the verdict. The MLA and others were taken into custody and later granted bail on furnishing two sureties each of Rs 25,000 for approaching the high court.

The 12 were convicted under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging his duty), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons), and 149 (unlawful assembly).

Vikram Saini was also booked under the National Security Act.

Saini has been in the news for controversial reasons several times. After Article 370 was read down in August 2019, he said BJP workers were “excited” because they could marry “fair girls from Kashmir”. In January 2019, Saini said those who do not feel safe in India “should be bombed”. In January 2018, he claimed that since India is called ‘Hindustan’, the country belongs to Hindus.

Earlier this year, during campaigning for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, Saini was chased away from a village in his own constituency. He was, however, elected as an MLA for the second time.

The Uttar Pradesh government registered a total of 510 cases relating to the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 were registered in five districts of the Meerut Zone against 6,869 accused. However, the Supreme Court was told in August last year that out of these 510 cases, the chargesheet was filed in 175 cases, final reports were filed in 165 and 170 were expunged.

Thereafter, 77 cases were withdrawn by the state government under Section 321 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The government orders did not give any reasons for the withdrawal of cases and merely stated that the administration, “after full consideration”, has taken a decision to withdraw the particular case.

(With PTI inputs)