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FIR and bar on BJP leader

Lucknow, July 6: Moradabad police today registered a fresh first information report against BJP legislator Sangeet Som, accusing him of conspiring to create a volatile situation over the ban on loudspeakers at a shrine that led to Friday’s violence.

The FIR also said Som, one of those accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots last year, tried to reach Kanth to attend a mahapanchayat despite a ban on entering the area.

A senior officer said the entire Uttar Pradesh district was now out of bounds for the legislator following the July 4 clashes between BJP workers and the police.

“We have banned the entry of the BJP MLA from Sardhana in neighbouring Bijnor, Sangeet Som,” Moradabad DIG Gulab Singh told reporters, adding that all the entry points had been put under high vigilance, especially the Kanth-Bijnor highway, to stop him from entering Moradabad.

“The legislator has been named in a second FIR filed today in which he has been accused of conspiring to create communal fissures under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code,” the DIG said.

“We are investigating the charges and, after a probe, action will be initiated against him. If more accused are found to be involved in the conspiracy, their names may be added to this,” Singh said.

The new FIR — the first one on Friday was mainly over the violence — was “based on interrogation of BJP workers already under arrest”, the officer added.

The mahapanchayat had been called against police restrictions on the use of loudspeakers at a shrine while members of another community held prayers at Kanth’s Akbarpur Chedri village. There had been fears the convention could stoke communal passions.

The Samajwadi government’s crackdown came amid fears that such a mahapanchayat could stoke passions like a similar gathering last year in Muzaffarnagar. Alleged inflammatory speeches by Som and others at that meeting were blamed for the riots that killed more than 60 people and left 40,000 homeless.

Som was among key BJP leaders then arrested and released on bail. Other prominent names included Sanjeev Balyan, who was later elected Muzaffarnagar MP and is now minister of state for agriculture in the Narendra Modi government.

On Friday, Som and MPs Kunwar Singh Tanwar, Satyapal Saini and Nepal Singh — who represent neighbouring Amroha, Sambhal and Rampur — were stopped around 11.30am while on their way to Kanth, the area where the shrine is located. The leaders were taken to the local police station and let off after an hour and a half.

But the detentions sparked a backlash with the leaders’ supporters fighting police and hurling stones, one of which hit Moradabad district magistrate Shree Chandrakant and left him injured.

Som said he would challenge the ban on entering Moradabad. “I and my supporters will visit wherever we like to. Let the district administration stop me,” he said in Bijnor.

A five-member, fact-finding team of BJP leaders, led by MLA Suresh Rana, that reached Moradabad today to probe the circumstances leading to the violence could not reach Kanth as prohibitory orders had already been enforced.

Rana said his team would meet the arrested party workers in jail as well as local people to find out what escalated the violence.

In Moradabad, 62 BJP workers arrested on July 4 were sent to jail custody yesterday by a court on the charges of illegal assembly, indulging in violence and attacking public servants.

Some 20 policemen were injured in stone throwing by a mob. District magistrate Chandrakant, who suffered severe eye injuries, has been referred to Chennai for treatment, the court was told.

Police sources said among those sent to jail yesterday were the BJP’s Sambhal district president Mahesh Chandra Gupta and Moradabad chief Narendra Singh.