Ahead of Narendra Modis rally in Agra on Thursday, the BJP felicitated two of its MLAs accused of instigating the Muzaffarnagar riots of September, describing them as heroes who had ensured the safety of Hindus at the time.
Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana, MLAs from Sardhana in Meerut and Thana Bhawan in Shamli respectively, were honoured in the presence of senior state BJP president Lakshmikant Bajpayee and the partys UP election incharge Amit Shah, but well before Modi arrived.
Also present were senior BJP leaders Kalraj Mishra, Lalji Tandon, Vinay Katiyar and Rameshwar Chaurasia, and former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh.
A BJP worker named Sudhir Balyan too was felicitated.
The UP government has slapped cases under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) against Som and Rana for fanning the violence in which over 60 people were killed, a majority of them Muslims. Both MLAs are on bail.
They left the venue soon after the felicitation, and Modi, when he spoke, did not mention them. BJP president Rajnath Singh arrived only after Modi had finished and was preparing to leave. Rajnath apologised, saying his flight had been delayed.
Bajpayee called the two MLAs heroes and saviours of Hindus. We are felicitating them as they were wrongly implicated in the riots. They are the two heroes who reassured Hindus at a time when (UP minister) Azam Khan was ensuring that the guilty would escape. It is because of them that the Hindus could survive with some hope, he said.
Kalyan Singh praised the Jat women of Muzaffarnagar who he said had come out of their homes to confront rioters and the police, thereby ensuring that they and most of their families had survived.
Kalyan also spoke on rape. He said, Shoot the rapists of Lucknow and Delhi on road crossings. Ten bullets in them will finish off rape from the country. The Delhi government is protecting rapists.
On the alleged illegal surveillance of a woman in Gujarat allegedly on Amit Shahs orders, Chaurasia said: Women activists of the Congress did not protest against the price of onions, or when the Delhi gangrape victim died. But they are protesting against Modi when the father of the girl is in fact pleading for her privacy. Ladki ki izzat uchhal rahe hain apni politics ke liye.