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Police officers take on Azam Khan in court over Muzaffarnagar riots

Author: Anant Zanane & Amit Chaturvedi
Publication: NDTV.com
Date: October 10, 2013
URL: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/police-officers-take-on-azam-khan-in-court-over-muzaffarnagar-riots-430232?pfrom=home-lateststories

A damaging assortment of allegations has engulfed Akhilesh Yadav's government in Uttar Pradesh for last month's communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, in which nearly 50 people were killed.

Now, four officers in charge of police stations in villages that were mangled by the violence have levelled serious charges against senior minister Azam Khan in court.

They say that they were unfairly suspended from the police force on the orders of Mr Khan; the Allahabad High Court has put that on hold and given the minister, who is also the Muslim face of the ruling Samajwadi Party, 10 days to furnish an explanation.

The police officers claim that Mr Khan had them punished because he was upset that seven Muslims had been arrested for allegedly killing two brothers in the village of Kawal on August 27. They have said in court that under pressure from the minister, their bosses ordered the release of the suspects immediately.

The policemen who have taken their case to court say Hindus in the region were infuriated with the suspects being allowed to leave jail and their resentment erupted in violence.

Mr Khan last month denied that he pressured police officials to ignore the violence, a charge made by a police officer in a sting that aired on a private news channel. The footage showed police officers blaming "political pressure" for their inaction as riots tore through Muzaffarnagar. One officer said Mr Khan's instructions were being followed. Two cops who admitted to delayed intervention were transferred after the alleged expose was aired.

On August 27, a pair of Hindu men, who were cousins, murdered a young Muslim man who they accused of stalking their sister; within an hour, they had been lynched to death by a mob comprising largely of Muslims.

On September 7, thousands of Hindu farmers gathered to demand justice for the killed cousins. As they dispersed from a rally where politicians made allegedly incendiary speeches, they were attacked by mobs armed with funds, knives and swords. Over the next 48 hours, the violence was unstoppable.

The government called in the Army to enforce curfew.
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