Continuing its crackdown on those involved in the Muzaffarnagar riots, Uttar Pradesh police on Saturday arrested Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Sangeet Som and Bahujan Samaj Party Member of Legislative Assembly Noor Saleem Rana, even as BJP President Rajnath Singh was prevented from touring the riot-hit district.
The arrests come a day after Uttar Pradesh police took into custody BJP MLA Suresh Rana in Lucknow on charges of making provocative speeches to incite riots in Muzaffarnagar.
"While BJP MLA Som was arrested in Meerut district, BSP legislator Noor Saleem Rana has been arrested from Muzaffarnagar," said Inspector General, Law and Order, R K Vishwakarma.
Som, who has been accused of uploading a fake video that provoked communal tension in Muzaffarnagar and making inflammatory speeches, was arrested in Meerut.
Senior Superintendent of Police Deepak Kumar said that Som was arrested from Salava village in his constituency Sardhana amid slogan-shouting by his supporters.
Though police said they had arrested Som, the supporters of the legislator claimed he had surrendered before Sardhana police.
"I will abide by the law in spite of the fact that this is a false case against me. I will respond in court. They (SP, BSP) have instigated the riots. We (BJP MLAs) are being made soft targets," Som told reporters.
The IG said Noor Saleem, a BSP MLA from Charthawal, has been arrested in Muzaffarnagar in connection with the violence.
Earlier in the day, the BJP president said in Delhi that he was denied permission to visit riot-hit Muzaffarnagar.
"I wanted to meet the families of the victims and take stock of the situation. But the district administration denied permission, saying my visit is not possible in the present circumstances," he said.
Accusing the Samajwadi Party of inciting riots in Uttar Pradesh whenever it comes to power in the state, Singh said a delegation would meet the President next week to give him an account of the prevailing situation in riot-hit areas.
Som was later brought to Muzaffarnagar and produced in the Chief Judicial Magistrate Kiran Pal Singh’s court which remanded him to 14-day judicial custody.
He would be produced in another court in connection with the inflammatory speech case, sources said.
BJP MLA Rana, arrested on charges of making a provocative speech to incite riots, was remanded to 14-day judicial custody by a local court in Muzaffarnagar, which also rejected his interim bail plea.
An MLA from Thana Bhawan in Shamli district, Rana, who was arrested in Lucknow on Friday, was produced in the court of Additional Judicial Magistrate Sunder Lal today morning.
The court, while rejecting his interim bail application, fixed September 24 as the next date for hearing a permanent bail application.
A court in Muzaffarnagar had on Wednesday issued arrest warrants against 16 politicians and community leaders including Som, BSP MP Qadir Rana, BJP MLA Bhartendu Singh, BSP MLAs Noor Saleem and Maulana Jameel, Congress leader Saeeduzaman and Bharatiya Kisan Union chief Naresh Tikait.
They are wanted for violating prohibitory orders and provoking communal tension by giving inflammatory speeches in different meetings (mahapanchayats) in the district, police said.
Som has been accused of allegedly uploading a fake video that provoked communal riots in Muzaffarnagar.
High drama had unfolded in front of Uttar Pradesh assembly on Wednesday when BJP leaders and workers, led by Uma Bharati, protested against the possible arrest of party MLA Som.
Facing criticism over the failure to arrest several MLAs despite warrants being issued against them by a court in Muzaffarnagar, IG, Law and Order, Vishwakarma had earlier said that the arrests were being "deliberately avoided" as a session of state assembly was in progress.
The communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas have claimed 47 lives and displaced over 40,000 people.
The BJP has lashed out at the Samajwadi Party government, alleging that its workers were being targeted and implicated in cases "without evidence".
The party has also called for a bandh in western UP districts on Sunday.
Image: BJP MLA Sangeet Som ' Photograph Courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/sangeet.som