Woes of Azam Khan under Yogi Govt: Total 81 cases so fartext_fields
Rampur: Ever since the BJP government led by Yogi Adityanath took power in Uttar Pradesh in 2017, a total of 81 cases have been registered against Senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan in Rampur, spanning various charges including land grabbing, cheating, criminal trespass, and hate speech.
The latest development involves raids conducted by the Income Tax department at over 30 premises in Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Madhya Pradesh as part of a probe into an alleged tax evasion case involving Azam and his associates.
Azam Khan's legal troubles also extend to his family members, with his wife and former Member of Parliament, Tanzeen Fatima, and their son and former MLA, Abdullah Azam Khan, finding themselves embroiled in at least 40 cases. Despite these legal battles, all three individuals are currently out on bail.
According to a report published in The Indian Express, the saga took a significant turn in February 2020 when Azam Khan, along with his wife and son, was arrested in a forgery case involving Abdullah Azam Khan's birth certificate. Azam Khan was released from jail in May 2022, followed by Tanzeen's release in December 2020 and Abdullah's release in January 2022.
In October of the previous year, Azam Khan faced conviction in a hate speech case that had been lodged ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He was sentenced to three years in prison, leading to his disqualification as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and the declaration of his long-held seat, Rampur Sadar, as vacant.
The subsequent Rampur Sadar by-poll in December saw Azam Khan's longtime rival, BJP leader Akash Saxena, securing a victory over Azam's close confidant, Asim Raja, by a significant margin of 34,136 votes. Leading up to the by-poll, election officials ordered the removal of Azam Khan's name from the electoral roll, citing sections of the Representation of People Act.
The case that ultimately led to Azam's disqualification was filed on April 9, 2019, under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 153-A and 505(1), in addition to the Representation of the People Act's Section 125.
However, in May of the current year, Azam Khan's appeal against his conviction was successful in a higher court, resulting in his acquittal in the hate speech case. The court ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove that Azam's speech incited enmity based on factors such as religion, lineage, place of birth, residence, and language.
The court also took note of a statement from "Prosecution Witness 1," Anil Kumar Chauhan, an election official who admitted filing the complaint against Azam Khan "under pressure" from the then Rampur district magistrate, Aunjaneya Kumar Singh.
Despite his acquittal, the Uttar Pradesh government has filed an appeal against Azam's exoneration in the Allahabad High Court.
In a separate case in July, Azam Khan was convicted and sentenced to two years' imprisonment for another hate speech case registered on April 8, 2019, just prior to the Lok Sabha elections.
The complaint alleged that Azam delivered an "inflammatory" speech targeting Chief Minister Adityanath and the then Rampur district magistrate, Aunjaneya Kumar Singh, who also served as the returning officer.
Earlier in February, Azam Khan and his son Abdullah were sentenced to two years' imprisonment in a 15-year-old case in which they were booked for obstructing traffic after their vehicle was stopped by police for inspection. Abdullah's disqualification as an MLA resulted in the vacancy of his Suar seat, which is adjacent to Rampur.