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What was the Bulandshahr violence all about?

A policeman near a burnt vehicle near the Chingravati police post in Bulandshahr. File   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

Almost two weeks after a mob led by right-wing activists attacked a police outpost in Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh over discovery of cow carcasses, the key suspects are still at large.

What happened?

Two persons - inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and a protester Sumit - were shot dead in the incident, which involved the use of firearms, heavy stone-pelting, brick-batting, and arson of the police post in Syana.

Why the outburst?

As per the narrative, trouble started after some locals approached the police on December 3 saying they had found some cow carcasses in a field in Mahav village. But while the police team was investigating the matter, miscreants, allegedly egged on by members of the Bajrang Dal and its associates, carried the carcasses on a tractor trolley and parked it outside the police outpost and blockaded the road near it. While the matter is under probe, it appears more than just a coincidence that the allegations of cow slaughter and the blockade at a junction came about at a time a major Muslim congregation, an ijtema, was being held some 40 km away in the same district. Over 10 lakh persons attended the congregation and for days leading up to the event, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and its associates had been making allegations that cows were being slaughtered there for food. While they had no proof to back their allegations, even after the violence they continued to link the discovery of the carcasses to the ijtema.

Is there a law and order crisis?

The mob violence and attack on the police highlights the fragile law and order situation. There did not seem any local trigger or communal discord among the Hindus and Muslims prior to the incident, suggesting interference by motivated groups. Among those booked for instigating the violence are members of the Bajrang Dal and the BJP. The police team was overpowered by the mob.

Have there been such flare-ups?

Communal tension and violence in the State over allegations of cow slaughter have been reported in the recent past, from the same region. In Hapur, cattle-trader Qasim was beaten to death at Pilkhuwa in June allegedly over rumours of cow slaughter. Then, there is the Dadri case, which has links to the Bulandshahr incident through the deceased police officer. From September 28, 2015, to November 9, 2015, Subodh Kumar Singh was the investigating officer of the case of lynching of Akhlaq. His family alleged that he was killed because of that link. Viewed with the campaign by right-wing groups deriding the officer as anti-Hindu, this has raised more questions.

What is the situation now?

Over 70 persons, some of them allegedly having links to the VHP and its youth wing Bajrang Dal, were booked on charges of murder, attempt to murder, rioting, sedition, damage to public property and dacoity. A special investigation team is probing the matter. Around a dozen accused have been arrested, including an Army jawan Jeetu Fauji, suspected of shooting dead the police officer. However, some of the main accused, like Bajrang Dal convener Yogesh Raj and BJP Yuva Morcha Bulandshahr city head Shikhar Agarwal, are still on the run. Both issued videos claiming innocence in the mob violence case, following which non-bailable warrants have been issued against all the accused. No communal tension has been reported from this pocket of Bulandshahr since the incident.

What next?

The Yogi Adityanath government has been criticised for focussing only on cow slaughter and not arresting the accused in the mob violence. The claims made by the Bajrang Dal activist also came under question as his FIR named two minors and at least two persons who have been living outside Bulandshahr for over a decade. The government has called the episode a “conspiracy,” but questions remain.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 2:52:58 PM |

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