BJP leader’s son held in Dadri lynching case

Five days after Mohammad Akhlaque Saifi was lynched over rumours about cow slaughter in this Uttar Pradesh village, Vishal, accused of inciting the mob, was arrested on Saturday.

Vishal is the son of Sanjay Rana, a local BJP leader associated with the party for the past two decades. Mr. Rana is reportedly close to Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma. The BJP State unit has distanced itself from Mr. Rana, who does not hold any party post.

The arrest came amid a volatile and tense situation in the village, which has become polarised with the Hindu community raging against the media for being “one-sided”. In two instances of attacks, two presspersons were injured and two vehicles damaged.

All roads lead to Dadri

9:30 am Women attack journalists in Mohd Akhlaque's village claiming media is biased
11:00 am Arvind Kejriwal arrives to meet Akhlaque's family but because of tense situation, the police take him to a guest house.
12:30 pm Kejriwal meets the family after police beef up security.
1:00 pm Stone throwing again as Kejriwal and the media leave the village.
2:00 pm Mob attacks media again, damage their cars.
5:00 pm Rahul Gandhi meets Akhlaque's family for about 15 minutes.

Family members of Mohammad Akhlaque Saifi, who was lynched over rumours about cow slaughter in this Uttar Pradesh village, had told the police about the possible role of Vishal, son of Sanjay Rana, a local BJP leader, in inciting the mob last Monday, sources say.

The family had told the local administration that they suspect that it was Vishal who had coerced the priest of the local temple to announce that a cow was slaughtered in Akhlaque’s house and that his family was eating beef.

Rana has alleged that his son was being framed.

Besides Vishal, another accused, Shivam, has been arrested. Local police officials said that with the arrest of eight of the accused, the investigation will speed up. The local administration substantially increased the police deployment in and around the village on Saturday.

With two high-profile visits, first by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and later by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, the area remained tense. Several hundreds of agitated village women on the streets protested against what they alleged to be “one-sided media coverage”.

Armed with stones, several hundred women took to the streets and abused presspersons and politicians. They chased the media outside the village in the morning and barred anyone from entering the village. The Delhi Chief Minister had to wait outside for over an hour to meet Akhlaque’s family.

Even when the local administration finally managed to control the women protesters with the help of women police personnel, they continued the protest on the road. Stones were hurled at Mr. Kejriwal and presspersons.

Mr. Kejriwal tried to talk to the protesters. He told one of them that what happened in the village was “against humanity”. “It was totally wrong. Neither Hindus nor Muslims benefited from it. It was just vote-bank politics of political parties,” he said.

“It is an extremely sad situation that while one party is trying to consolidate Hindu votes using this tragic incident, another party is in an attempt to consolidate Muslim votes by letting the tempers run high,” he later told presspersons.

He said Hinduism was never in danger because of any Muslim and anybody who thought otherwise was not a Hindu. But the residents of the village, mainly local Thakur community members, had problems with “too much attention given to only Akhlaque’s family”.

They argued with the media persons that nobody was showing the plight of the family of the accused who were “wrongly arrested”.

Muslims, who form about 10 per cent of the population of the Thakur-dominated village, remained in their houses. But the protesters were in no mood to let go of the opportunity. They gheroaed Mr. Kejriwal and tried to argue with the mediapersons. One of the protesters asked this correspondent, “Our sons were arrested by police and framed up by the SP government but nobody is showing the plight of the families.”

The two attacks on the media, one in the morning and second while Kejriwal was leaving, comes in the backdrop of the meeting Union Minister Mahesh Sharma held with the local Thakur leaders in the temple which was misused to incite the mob to lynch Akhlaque. Addressing the villagers, Mr. Sharma warned the media against “doing politics with words”. He expressed displeasure at the media coverage which the villagers complained as being “too one-sided”.

Later, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who kept his visit a secret and did not talk to the media, tweeted: “Met the family of Mohammad Akhlaque and expressed my deepest condolences. It is very sad to see the trust and harmony built over decades destroyed by the politics of hate.”

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced an increase in the financial assistance for the family from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 3:29:56 AM |

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