A court in Rampur district, Uttar Pradesh, has convicted senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and former MLA, Mohd Azam Khan, in a hate speech case against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
The MP/MLA court sentenced Khan to a two-year jail term for his remarks made during a gathering in support of an alliance candidate ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The case was registered against Khan at Shahzad Nagar police station in Rampur, relating to the hate speech incident. This marks another setback for the SP, which is part of the opposition group preparing to challenge the ruling BJP in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
This is not the first timeAz Khan has faced legal consequences for hate speech. In 2019, he was convicted in another case and sentenced to three years in jail, which led to his disqualification from the Uttar Pradesh Assembly.
Adding to the complexity of the situation, a day after the Uttar Pradesh government withdrew Khan’s Y-category security cover, he has now been provided with “provisional security” at the district level. The decision came after a reappraisal of the security situation, and now, three gunners will be assigned to protect him, according to the police.
The SP expressed its discontent with the withdrawal of Khan’s security cover, terming the process as “undemocratic” and stressing that there is still a perceived threat to his life.
In a separate 2019 hate speech case against the UP Chief Minister, Khan was acquitted in May of this year. He had previously been convicted and sentenced to three years in prison, but his appeal in the MP/MLA court resulted in his innocence being declared.
The recent conviction of Mohd Azam Khan and the subsequent security changes have drawn attention and have implications for the political landscape in Uttar Pradesh, especially in light of the approaching 2024 Lok Sabha elections.