On 3 August, the Samajwadi Party (SP) defended party leader Azam Khan, claiming that the attack on him, in the wake of his insensitive remark on the Bulandshahr gangrape incident, was an 'attack on secularism'.
Senior SP leader Rajendra Chaudhary said that the BJP-led Centre should focus on Delhi, where the crime is on a rise, instead of pointing fingers at Uttar Pradesh.
"The RSS and the BJP have communal agenda for the state. They are always focused on disrupting secularism and democratic setup. Mohammed Azam Khan is a secular leader and a very sensitive leader. His remarks should not be misinterpreted. RSS and BJP have always been trying to target Azam Khan. RSS and BJP have been misinterpreting Azam Khan's statement," Chaudhary said.
"Whenever elections are near, the BJP rakes of sensitive issues. They politicise everything. The people of Uttar Pradesh are secular and sensitive. Attack of Azam Khan is an attack on secularism," he added.
In what may come as an embarrassment for the Samajwadi Party government, Khan earlier hinted at a political conspiracy behind the gangrape of the mother-daughter duo in Bulandshahr.
Khan said that a desperate opposition could stoop to any level to defame and disgrace the government since the state elections are approaching.
Khan, however, later defended his remarks and said "I never said there is a conspiracy by the opposition. I said that as the elections are near, we all should find from where these protests and incidents are coming from. I never said that this was a conspiracy by the opposition."
A fast track court in Bulandshahr on 2 August sent the three accused arrested in connection with the case to 14-day judicial custody.
The incident took place on 29 July, when a 35-year-old woman and her daughter were allegedly gang-raped by a group of robbers in Bulandshahr district.
The victims were on their way from Noida to Shahjahanpur with the other family members when their vehicle was stopped near a cycle repairing shop in Dostpur village on NH-9, which connects Noida and Bulandshahr.