A fresh controversy over ‘fake votes’ in Muzaffarnagar is scuffing the scars of the 2013 riots on the first day of polling


  • In 2013, Jat-Muslim riots in Muzaffarnagar resulted in at least 60 deaths and the forced exodus of tens of thousands of Muslims.
  • And now, six years later, the 500,000 Muslim voters in the district are mulling whether or not to vote for a 80-year old Jat candidate fielded by the Opposition.
  • To make matters worse, Sanjeev Balyan, a BJP candidate, stoked the fire this morning by alleging that the identities of “burqa-clad” voters were not being verified by Election Commission officials.

As the electorate of Uttar Pradesh head to the polling booths, voters in one district have a tougher choice to make than most.

Six years after Jat-Muslim riots in Muzaffarnagar resulted in at least 60 deaths and the forced exodus of tens of thousands of Muslims, the 500,000 Muslim voters in the district are mulling whether or not to vote for a 80-year old Jat candidate, Ajit Singh, who is representing the Opposition alliance of the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal.

To make matters worse, Sanjeev Balyan, a BJP candidate, stoked the fire this morning by alleging that the identities of “burqa-clad” voters were not being verified by Election Commission officials.

The riots in August and September 2013 were a result of the polarisation caused in the build-up to the 2014 general elections, which led to a rupture between the Jat and Muslim communities in the region.

While a vote for a member of the community that was responsible for the violence against them might be cause for some cognitive dissonance for Muslim voters, it might seem a better option than voting for a BJP candidate.

Under the administration of Yogi Adityanath, who was elected CM in 2017 after the BJP won the state elections, communal violence has been on the rise in UP.

In fact, in 2017, UP once again topped the list of the Indian states with the highest instances of communal violence - with 195 instances compared to second-placed Karnataka, with a 100.

Adityanath has consistently baited communal tensions not only with his anti-Muslim rhetoric but also his repeated pledges to build the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

To make matters worse, justice for the kin of victims in the 2013 riots has been elusive. The UP government has been slow to take action against the aggressors of the riots - which is unsurprising since around 125 cases have been filed against members of the BJP for inciting the riots.



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