Probe mass acquittals in Muzaffarnagar

It is a grave travesty of justice that in 40 of the 41 cases of communal violence in Muzaffarnagar town of Uttar Pradesh in 2013, all accused have been acquitted, as revealed in an investigation by a leading newspaper.

The horrendous events of those dark days in which a minority community was targeted has shocking tales of how there were glaring gaps in prosecution that helped the culprits to go scot free.

This was a glaring example of woeful lack of accountability which paints a grim picture of the rule of law in the country’s most populous state which sends a whopping 80 members to the Lok Sabha.

The report says five prosecution witnesses did a U-turn in court to say that they were not present when their relatives were murdered, though the first information reports mentioned otherwise.

Six prosecution witnesses turned hostile and deposed that the police forced them to sign blank papers. In five cases, the police failed to produce murder weapons in court. At least 65 people were reportedly killed in the Muzaffarnagar violence and 10 murder cases were filed besides cases on other counts.

While all these cases were registered when the Samajwadi Party government of Akhilesh Yadav was in power and prosecution had been launched during that time, it was the Yogi Adityanath government that conducted the ongoing investigations.

Police laxity and partisan behaviour have been the bane of Uttar Pradesh but this shows there has been no change in that over the years. Political complicity is also a reality that cannot be wished away.

It is indeed time the Yogi administration gets to the root of the failure of prosecution and punishes those responsible for whitewashing the heinous crime.

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