Zee Media Bureau
Lucknow: Under fire for its handling of the Muzaffarnagar riots, the Uttar Pradesh police finally acted on Friday and arrested Bhartiya Janata Party MLA Suresh Rana on charges of making provocative speeches to cause riots.
MLA from Thana Bhawan in riot-affected Shamli district was booked under sections 188 (knowingly disobeying orders to maintain public order), 153 A (promoting enmity between groups on the basis of religion) 353 (provoking with intent to cause riots) and 435 (damage to property) of IPC and criminal law amendment act, which is non-bailable.
Rana was arrested by Lucknow police while he was on his way to Gomti Nagar from the party office this evening, immediately after the Uttar Pradesh Assembly was adjourned sine die.
He was among the 16 political and community leaders against whom warrants were issued by a Muzaffarnagar court for their allegedly inflaming communal passion leading to riots that left close to 50 people dead and forced thousands into refugee camps.
Besides Rana, the other BJP MLAs against whom arrest warrants were issued are Sangeet Som, Bhartendu Singh and Hukum Singh.
However, the big test for the Akhilesh Yadav government would be whether it will proceed to arrest political leaders from other parties, especially those belonging to the minority community.
Kadir Rana, Jameel Ahmed and Noor Salim Rana of the Bahujan Samaj Party and Saedduzzaman of the Congress are among those against whom warrants are pending.
The political leaders named in the FIR are wanted for violating prohibitory orders and provoking communal tension by inflammatory speeches in different meetings (mahapanchayats) in the district.
The decision to arrest Suresh Rana is a bold move as it comes days after firebrand BJP leader and party MLA Uma Bharti warned the SP government of "more tension" in Uttar Pradesh if politicians from her party are arrested for instigating the riots that tore through Muzaffarnagar.
"Our MLAs (state legislators) will not oppose their arrest, but the government is responsible for what will follow. I am warning them," she said, in comments directed to the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP). "If any MLAs are arrested, it means they (SP) want to restart the riots... and this time, they want to target one particular community and one party," she had said.