Dadri: In the first sign that the BJP is abandoning its careful equivocation over the recent lynching of a Muslim man in a village near Delhi, a key party leader has described the victim and his family as “cow killers”. Levelling the incendiary charge during a visit to Bisara – the village where the murder took place on September 28 – BJP MLA Sangeet Som accused the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh of “appeasing” Muslims by framing innocent Hindus for the crime.
Som, who was accused of making inflammatory speeches during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal riots, visited the families of those arrested for the lynching on Sunday.
The Muslim man, Akhlaq, was killed by a mob enraged by a rumour that a calf had been killed in the village, and the MLA insisted the victim and his family had indeed been involved.
The UP government “has taken those who have slaughtered a cow in a plane”, he said – in a direct reference to Akhlaq’s surviving family members who traveled to Lucknow to meet Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Som was speaking to reporters at Bisara village.
The MLA’s remarks came even as BJP leader and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the incident should not be given communal colour or politicised.
Som questioned why the state government had allowed AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi to visit the village and spread “communal frenzy”.
“A person like Owaisi was allowed to come here from Hyderabad. Is the Samajwadi Party government colluding with him? A person from Hyderabad comes and is able to make such statements. Is it not the weakness of the government? … This is UP, we know how to send him packing.”
“This government is trying to appease a particular community. They want to do politics of appeasement which we will not allow,” said the MLA who also reportedly addressed a meeting at the local temple from where an announcement had triggered mob fury on Monday night.
Questioning the arrests in the lynching case, he said, “We don’t want that those guilty of murder should not be tried but the government should stop framing the innocent. Murder cases are on the rise in the state but is the government acting in the same manner in those cases. Are terrorists living here? Police should make arrests only after completing the investigation,” the MLA said. He accused the media of ignoring the fact that a Hindu man had been shot by the police during the lynching incident and demanded that he too be compensated by the government if not as handsomely as Akhlaq’s family had but “at least with five to seven lakh rupees.”
Aqlakh, 50, was dragged out of his home and stoned to death on a village street after a public announcement from the local temple that the family had slaughtered a calf and eaten its meat.
While Aqlakh died, his 22-year-old son Danish is battling for life at a hospital following two brain surgeries.
‘Talk of Beef makes Hindu souls shake’
Meanwhile, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma – who represents the area in Parliament – has reiterated his controversial description of the lynching as an accident. “You can use whatever expression you like — incident, accident, durghatana, haadsa — but it was not premeditated,” he told the Indian Express in Varanasi on October 4.
Among the other statements he made to the newspaper were:
- “You must have seen that whenever there is any buzz about cow slaughter, media, people all rush (to the spot). All those who love the cow rush (to the spot). It (the murder) took place as a reaction to that incident (cow slaughter). You must also consider that there was also a 17-year-old daughter in that home. Kisi ne usey ungli nahin lagaayi (nobody did anything to her).”
- “Whenever a person faces an attack by lathis, he thrusts his hands forward, and five-seven of his fingers are inevitably broken. I have 30 years’ experience as a doctor. He received at least 10-15 fractures in his body and fingers. Danish is admitted in my hospital. He does not have a single fracture in his entire body except a head injury that was caused when he was hit by a lathi. Maar diya hoga kisi shaitaan ne (Some devil must have hit hm) But it means that the intention was not to lynch.”
- “Momentarily hai (It was momentary). Gaay ke maans par hum logon ka… andar se aatma hilne lagti hai (On beef… our soul starts shaking). You can kill other animals, mutton, and people don’t (react)… (but) when you name cow… We have linked the cow with our mother.”
- “What happened there (in Bisara village) is that a calf had gone missing. There has been a spurt in the cases of cattle theft. Log raat ke time pashuon ko utha lete hain, wahin kaat daalte hain (People pick up cows at night and slaughter them on the spot). They know such an art. They tie the four legs (of the animal) in a special knot, use some instrument, kill it. Within minutes, they skin it, pack its meat in a vehicle, and escape. Within five-seven minutes, they skin an entire adult cow. A gang of just 3-4 persons can do it. They take out everything (from inside the animal’s body), leaving just the skin and bones behind.”
- “These (the slaughter of cows) are frequent incidents. Often trucks are seized and cows are recovered. It then causes a ruckus. A few hundred people gather, shout slogans. Someone sets the truck on fire in reaction.”
- “In the same way, someone said that it was beef (in Bisara). It also appeared like beef. Then they announced from the temple that ‘beef was recovered’. ‘Where was it found?’ ‘It was found in his (Akhlaq’s) home’. Perhaps there was a trail of blood coming out of that home. People then reached his home. They got furious, a mob gathered, broke the door. That’s how it happened.”
Police have arrested eight persons and detained a Home Guard for questioning after the local temple priest alleged that he forced him to make the announcement. One of the persons arrested, Vishal Rana, is the son of a local BJP leader, Sanjay Rana.
(With inputs from PTI)