Just as the campaigning for the first round of Lok Sabha poll in Uttar Pradesh (to be held on Thursday) ended, the Akhilesh Yadav government has moved court seeking cancellation of bail of the 50 politicians accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots in an obvious attempt by the Samajwadi Party to woo minority voters in the riot-hit districts of western UP.
The accused include BJP MLAs Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana and BSP MLA Kadir Rana.
The UP government appealed in the Allahabad high court to cancel bail against BJP MLA Sangeet Som, while it has sent an appeal in district court for others.
The UP government counsel told the court that the 50 accused could disturb peace during election and should therefore be arrested and kept behind bars.
The west UP riots last year killed nearly 60 and left thousands displaced. The Akhilesh Yadav government faces allegations of not doing enough for the minorities by way of safety, security and rehabilitation.
BSP MP Kadir Rana, who represents Muzaffarnagar in the Lok Sabha, his party legislator Noor Salim Rana and BJP MLA Bhartendu Singh are among the riot-accused men who should be arrested and sent to jail, the government counsel told the Allahabad high court.
The state government has moved against them just two days before Muzaffarnagar and another riot-affected district, Shamli, go to polls for the national election. The Supreme Court had asked the state to ensure that all riot-accused are arrested.
The accused politicians have been campaigning in west UP and have been accused of making inflammatory speeches to polarize voters.
Kadir Rana said in a recent speech, "Everywhere the enemy is watching...there is ammunition and weapons to target us...Muslims have been treated worse than they were in partition... I want to say that this election is for the honour of Muslims.. .and I see nothing wrong in asking for votes in the name of my religion. Muslims have made me who I am."
On the other hand, BJP general secretary Amit Shah recently called on the Hindus to vote to "avenge" the riots. Two FIRs have been registered against Shah and he has also been served notice by the Election Commission for the alleged hate speech.
The SIT, probing the Muzaffarnagar riots, had already begun the process in February of filing affidavits in the Allahabad high court in support of petitions by district authorities seeking cancellation of bail granted by lower courts to accused in last year's violence.
District authorities have also filed more than 45 petitions seeking cancellation of bail granted to riots accused.
According to SIT sources, its officials are filing affidavits in support of the petitions by the district administration for cancellations of bails.
More than 200 riots accused have been granted bail from the lower court, sources said.
Over 534 cases were registered against 6,423 people in which more than 245 were arrested and 45 surrendered in connection with deadly riots in Muzaffarnagar and neighbouring areas.
The SIT has so far filed charge sheets in 32 cases against about 235 accused.