A week after the Uttar Pradesh police charged BJP leaders Mahesh Sharma and Sangeet Som for violating prohibitory orders in Dadri, where a 52-year-old Muslim man was allegedly lynched by a Hindu mob, party president Amit Shah has admitted that Som should not have visited the village.
"Sangeet Som went there eight days after the incident," said Shah in an exclusive interview with India Today, denying that Som had in fact said that he would take revenge on people who kill cows. "But, still, he shouldn't have gone there."
Som had allegedly said that a "befitting reply" will be given if "innocents were framed", reported The Indian Express.
He apparently made statement to a group of people outside the village temple, “Agar nirdoshon ke khilaf karyawahi ki gayi, to munh-tod jawab hamne pehle bhi diya hai aur abh bhi dena jante hain (If action is taken against innocent, we have given a befitting reply earlier and can do so again). We can give a reply whenever we want.”
Even UP BJP president Laxmikant Bajpai washed his hands off Som's visit to Dadri.
"The party has nothing to do with what he said in Dadri. What he said is not the official party line," Bajpai told The Times of India. "Politicians were only indulging in politics while the fact of the matter is that it was a case between those who eat beef and those who slaughter cows."
Shah defended his party's reaction so far on the issue, claiming that there had been no official statement from BJP since UP administration is the Samajwadi Party's responsibility, which forms the state government there. "Dadri is strictly a law & order issue," he said. "Why does this not happen in Gujarat, in Madhya Pradesh? Or in Goa, Maharashtra, Haryana?"
Shah denied that BJP was making the matter communal, claiming Sharma had every right to go to Dadri since he was the local representative for BJP there. While he maintained that whoever was found guilty should be arrested in the Dadri killing, he claimed that there were no arrests in other cases where Hindus died in western UP.
'Sangeet Som Fuelled Muzaffarnagar Riots With Hate Speech And Fake Video'
According to a report by the Justice Vishnu Sahai Commission, set up to inquire into the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013, that killed at least 62 people including 42 Muslims, Som as well as BSP MP Kadir Rana's provocative speeches and a video circulated by Som and several others led to the unrest.
However, the commission could not act against Som since a case against him for circulating the wrong video has already been lodged and the matter is being investigated.