Amid rising communal tension in Dadri days after the public lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq over allegations of cow slaughter, BJP MLA and a Muzaffarnagar riots-accused Sangeet Som visited Bishahra on Sunday and invoked Hindu retaliation during 2014 Muzaffarnagar riots.
Violating prohibitory orders, he addressed a charged and angry crowd of over several hundred. A week after Mohammad Akhlaq Saifi was lynched by violent mob over rumours of cow slaughter by him, the residents of Bishahra remain completely polarised and divided on religious lines.
Amid loud cheers and fanfare, Mr. Som, MLA from Sardhana constituency, walked up to the temple in the village from where a call was made announcing that Akhlaq was engaged in cow slaughter and demanding action against him. Minutes later Akhlaq was lynched by a mob.
While addressing the mob, Mr. Som declared that a “heinous crime” like cow slaughter was committed in the village and the Samajwadi government of Uttar Pradesh was acting in a “completely one sided way”.
“The government of U.P. is taking those who are accused of cow slaughters in airplane to Lucknow and is awarding money to them. Earlier they had done this with those who had organised Muzaffarnagar riots. Now they are taking the cow killers by aeroplane,” he told the cheering crowd.
“After the cow slaughter no action has been taken against the accused. Instead in a completely one sided action, innocents are being framed. We won't tolerate this,” added Mr. Som who was booked by the State police for inciting Muzaffarnagar riots by posting fake videos of violence. He is currently out on bail.
“People won't break the law but we will give a reply to the one sided action of the government. This government is anyway for very few days now. They are destroying themselves,”
Without naming Muzaffarnagar riots, Mr. Som warned, “ kanoon kanoon ki tarah kaam kare. Warna, ham pahle bhi muhtod jawab de chuke hai aur aage bhi denge [the law should act as law. Otherwise, we have given a strong reply in the past and would do that in future as well]”
In keeping with his Hindutva image in western UP, Mr. Som refused to condemn the mob lynching of Akhlaq. When The Hindu asked Mr. Som if he would go on to condemn the murder, he smiled and said,” Let the enquiry report come as to what happened that day”.
He also met the families of accused arrested for inciting and killing Akhlaq. He assured the families and the crowd that he would try to get them out on bail. One of the nine accused, Vishal is son of Sanjay Rana, a senior and old time BJP worker from the area. Sanjay Rana alleged that his son was being framed in the entire episode and the actual conspirators were not being arrested.
Later he told the media that “we have been saying that cows are being slaughtered across the State and that is leading to communal riots.”
After Mr. Som, president of Hindu Raksha Dal Bhupendra Tomar, went to the village and held a panchayat demanding a case to be filed against Akhlaq’s family for slaughtering cows.
While media was not allowed to enter the village Mr. Som and Hindu Raksha Dal leader Bhupendra Tomar were allowed to visit the village.
Asked if allowing Mr. Som and Mr. Tomar who are seen to be polarising figure, goes in the interests of law and order, the senior official told The Hindu, “People inside the village don't have any problem with Som or Tomar. But they will attack you if you go inside.”
The police officials also said that since Mr.. Som was also a riot accused, the entire speech was video recorded by the administration and a case would be filed if he is found to have made any controversial statement.
While the minority Muslims have largely remained silent, a large section among members of the majority community are on roads protesting against the arrest of the accused whom they regard “innocent”. The virtual ban of the media from entering the village has also created a problem for journalists who don't have access now to the victim families in the village. Journalists were attacked and chased out by a violent mob which broke several cars, snatched cameras and threw stones at them.
There are just two Muslim families in the neighbourhood where Akhlaque's family stays. Akhlaque's family has almost decided to leave the village and shift out to the airbase in Chennai where his younger son Sartaj works as a technician. In other parts of the village, about 52 Muslim houses are there.
At the end of the day further tension was reported from several villages in the vicinity of Bishahra, leading to heavy police deployment in the area.
|1||The Chief Minister had announced an increase in the financial assistance for the family from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.|
|2||Vishal, son of Sanjay Rana, a local BJP leader, was arrested in connection with the case. >Read more|
|3||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.|
|4||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”.|
|5||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.|
|6||Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha told presspersons that the Air Force was in touch with the family and was looking to move them to a secure military locality. >Read more|
|7||Union Minister Mahesh Sharma had described the lynching as an “accident” and said that no “communal colour” should be given to it. >Read more|
|8||The Uttar Pradesh government has ordered a probe into the incident. Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan said the probe would be completed on Wednesday. >Read more|
|9||In the wake of the killing, Vice-President Hamid Ansari said that progress and development can be achieved if the people of India are united.|
|10||In Dadri's Bishara village on September 28, a 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched and his son Danish (22) was brutally beaten up as punishment for allegedly eating beef on Eid and 'storing it' for later consumption.|